Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blog #46: Charming Europe plus a Bush Whacking

{Little Eddy is an 82 year old accomplisher of little to nothing who freely offers his opinions on subjects like war mongering politicians and the dogs who run with them. His perceptions which might at first seem a wee bit outrageous, have been known to make a certain amount of sense after a short settling in process. At that point you are free to either laugh or cry at your own discretion.}

Barack Obama gave his Berlin speech on Thursday. Addressing a huge crowd estimated by CNN as over 200,000, he called on nations to "renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons" and unite to defeat terrorism while tearing down the "new walls" that divide people nearly 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.” He could have easily won a German election had he chosen to enter one. "In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less," Obama told the massive throng that frequently interrupted him with applause. "Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity." And yes, my dear Republicans, he looked very, very, very presidential. And John McCain, be careful issuing those Town Hall invitations. Loose Lips Sink Ships. You may well get what you’re asking for, and if that German crowd is any indication, chances are pretty good you will live to regret it.
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How wonderful our politicians are. Particularly Republicans. Take our Bush whacked president. Because the U.N. Mandate that keeps U.S. troops in Iraq runs out at the end of this year, for months he has been quietly trying to reach an agreement with the Iraqi government which would allow American troops to stay in Iraq. Evidently in Bush’s mind his legacy rests in our troops continuing their occupation, the need for which his weird reasoning seems to use to try and justify his original decision to invade. But Iraqi citizens are understandably wary of any long term agreement on their occupation, and are growing increasingly impatient for us to leave. (The fact that private “security” firms like Blackwater seem to have free reign to kill and maim with impunity on public Bagdad streets just might be one fact0r contributing to the Iraqi impatience.) At any rate the Maliki government wants a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops before it will sign the damn thing. You read that right, the T word. A timetable.

Poor John McCain, he goaded Barack Obama into going to Iraq to find out what the situation is really like there, only to have Iraqi president Maliki all but endorse Obama’s withdrawal timetable. How presidential looking is that? And our poor, much maligned Bush, who has heroically resisted every Democratic Congressional attempt to tack on what he has consistently labeled an “artificial timetable” to its bills funding the war, how awful of that mean old Maliki to make an end run around the Bush backside insisting that the T word is not the least bit artificial and, thank you very much, he wants one before he’ll sign any papers allowing our military to stay. Damn, with Bush’s past history you can’t expect him to suddenly embrace, or even allow so much as a mention of the word timetable. So what to do?

A rose by any other name smells. As James Carville might put it, Call It Something Else, Stupid! For instance, how about “time horizon.” That should pretty well sanitize it. It even sounds scientific, doesn’t it, like it is somehow related to a black hole’s “event horizon?” It’s damned appropriate too, for the Iraq invasion is certainly the black hole of the Bush 43 legacy. We hate being the one to have to ring in the bad news, but as we write the American economy is disappearing lock, stock and barrel straight down the Iraqi “time horizon’s event horizon.” And since not even light itself can escape a black hole, the U.S. economy doesn’t stand a chance in hell.
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Do you ever ask yourself why a smart, well educated people like we 21st Century denizens of the 48 contiguous states repeatedly fall for these so-called President’s Wars like Korea, Vietnam, and now Iraq? I mean, why don’t we ever learn, one from the other. Well, in my opinion it begins early on when we are in elementary school. It is there that we are first taught to not rely on our own powers of observation and judgement, but instead to turn to “authority” to validate what is real or what isn’t. In school this means your teacher, once you’re out of school it is the expert we should listen to. This permeates through the entire educational system, even carrying itself into the realm of graduate thesis writing. Unsubstantiated data, like your own observations and your own line of reasoning to prove your thesis is not allowed. You must prove your points citing established authority, which is probably why so little of real value emanates from graduates of the academic world, and why the true titans of our modern high tech world are college dropouts like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Thus it is that our tradition of relying on experts rather than having the confidence to use our own observations and inborn sense of judgement is thrust upon us when we are young and impressionable. And this is the state of mind which allows these periodic incursions into the realm of political unreality to happen. Unreal statements like “we’ll bomb them back to the stone age” (heard incessantly during the Vietnam war) or “we’ll have those Japs licked in a matter of weeks.” Yeah, sure! (I actually remember hearing that phrase uttered many times in the days following Pearl Harbor.) The minute presidential anointed pundits begin their mouth offs promoting a new incursion sure to end in full blown war, none of us, neither journalist nor ordinary citizen, dare offer differing observations, our schooling having taught us we just aren’t qualified to challenge the assertions of so-called experts. And so we keep our mouths shut, although when we are truly bothered we tend to tune things out.

Remember Paul Wolf0witz’s fantasy testimony in the lead up to the Iraq invasion. The picture he painted of streets lined with Iraqi women and children waving flowers in greeting our humvee mounted troops as they motored into Bagdad as liberators. And Wolfowitz’s further assurances that this war would be over in weeks if not days, and would cost us absolutely nothing, because it would be paid for entirely by Iraqi oil? What a crock? And adding insult to injury Bush later attempted to reward the spewer of this garbage by appointing him director of the World Bank. Justice is not altogether dead, however, for the Bank later overruled Bush and stripped Wolfowitz of his title. Good riddance of bad rubbish, as we used to say when I was a kid.

If just once these so-called experts were held accountable for their hawkish misspeaks then maybe we could break this seemingly unending chain of presidents’ wars. We need to always keep in mind that the trade of the military is murder, state directed murder true, but indeed murder. And military success is measured in the number of casualties, translate that to mean “enemy soldiers” they have killed and maimed. Which is the reason that in a free country like ours we traditionally have civilians directing the military. However, the thing we discovered from our Iraq experience was beware of putting civilians who have never served in the military into positions of power over the military. Men who do not know the true horror of war and who tend to think of the military in terms of extending their own personal power are the truly dangerous ones, men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfield, and Paul Wolfowitz are far more dangerous running the military than professionally trained, experienced soldiers would be. And in a conflict free future civilians like these should always be properly rewarded for their breech of our trust. A well televised war crimes trial on the world stage would be the most appr0priate reward I could think of for repaying such wanton misbehavior, and it might even serve as a warning to future generations of would be conflict starters.
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Shame on T. Bone Pickens, the Texas oil man who helped fund the scurrilous Swift Boat Veterans for Lies, the group whose books, interviews and ads helped defeat John Kerry in the 2004 race for president. Would John Kerry have made a better president than George W. Bush? Who the hell knows, but he sure couldn’t have been any worse. And putting out a pack of lies is a helluva way to run a presidential race, though I’ve no doubt at all it would have have been the way to go in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. However, this is 2008, not 2004. And in 2008 Mr. Pickens seems to have found the road to redemption which he is motoring down at full throttle. We cite his excellent series of television ads pointing out that 70% of our oil is imported, causing the largest transfer of wealth in the history of our planet. And further pointing out the pressing need to somehow extricate ourselves from this gigantic monkey on our backs that is imported oil. His commercials give us h0pe as they show pictures of wind turbines and speak of the need for natural gas and solar power to help ease our addiction to foreign oil.

It is quite true that Mr. Pickens cowardly abandoned his offer to pay a million dollars to anyone who could prove the Swift Boaters were wrong. When presented with incontrovertible evidence he reneged on the offer, claiming that when he had made it he had meant only the tv commercials, although he failed to mention that at the time. He did thank the veteran’s group for their interest and their research, however, all the while sticking with the fiction of his meaning tv commercials only. But his 2008 call for relieving us of our addiction to foreign oil is most timely indeed, and his plan seems well worth careful consideration. It certainly goes far beyond what either presidential candidate or political party has yet put forth. And Mr. Pickens seems to have hooked himself up with a very talented ad agency, for the ad he is running is most arresting. We wish him all the luck in the world in his endeavor, and pray for its success for the future well being of our nation and the world.

We are sorry he helped fund that garbage back in 2004, Texas oilmen are known to be conservative to the point of freaking out six ways to Sunday when suddenly threatened with an unknown. However what kind of world would this be if there was no chance for redemption? All hail the 2008 Mr. Pickens for putting his money where his mouth is, and trying like hell to bring the rest of us along with him for the ride before it’s too late. And if I had a chance to meet and talk with him, I would ask him, “now isn’t funding a campaign intent on telling the truth a lot more rewarding than funding one consisting of scurrilous packs of lies? Welcome to the Light Side, Mr. Pickens. Neither Left nor Right, our side is illuminated by Twin Lights of Truth and Reason.
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Want to know where the future of news via the internet lies. If so go no further than: It is the home of Ariana Huffington’s Blog, of course, and her post this week introduces a brand new feature, HuffPost’s Big News Pages, which she labels as one stop shopping for Obamaniaks, Apple Junkies, Brangelina Freaks and News Obsessives of Every Ilk. It bills itself as news so big it needs its own page, and it may be found at:

Wednesday’s page under Politics included stories on Terrorism, Barack Obama, John McCain, Iraq, Nuclear Weapons (Bush 41 adviser Brent Scowcroft says he would advise Israel to “calm down” on Iran Strike), Blackwater (claims it is quitting the security/killing business), Iran, Jim Webb, Dick Cheney, George Bush, etc.

Even before the addition of the Big News Pages the Huffington Post’s coverage of the news well exceeded that of most news sources I regularly check. And Wednesday the N.Y.Times reported that HuffPost’s new online citizen journalism project,, now boasts 7500 citizen correspondents, up from 300 one year ago. The group had two scoops which gained it national attention recently, Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments from a closed fundraiser, and in early June when Bill Clinton lashed out at a Vanity Fair writer. HuffPost news is presented in a way that is both colorful and exciting, and gives you the option of either reading an overview when you’re pressed for time, or diving fully into the material when you wish. Ariana’s posts are always right on target, and the Huffington Post has the most thorough collection of political and related news relevant to the moment.

As promised on Wednesday there was an Apple page among the Big News pages, with every conceivable article on the iPhone, Apple’s new software store, and the state of Steve Job’s health that you could possibly wish for. We especially liked the article on Dennis Kucinich’s attempt to Impeach President Bush, the one which advised him to boil his articles of impeachment down from 25 articles to ten, put one of them on iTunes, and get Steve Jobs to introduce the iPeachment, and don’t forget to have him point out that iPeachment 08 is also brought to you in partnership with AT&T.
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Speaking of Steve Jobs, ever since I viewed the June film of Job’s presentation of the iPhone 3G, I have been worried about the man’s health. He looked terrible. He had color, but way too much color, he looked almost jaundiced. And he was gaunt. The victims liberated from Nazi concentration camps at the end of world war II seemed almost overweight compared to Steve at that presentation. At the time Apple said he was recovering from a bug, but he was getting over it and wanted to do the iPhone 3G presentation. But he turned large parts of the presentation over to two underlings, which added to the concern of Steve watchers the world over.

And here it is over a month later and people are still worried about his health. The question came up during Apple’s recent financial report delivered by Apple’s financial officers. In it Apple reported that it had shipped more Macs in the quarter than ever before — 2.5 million, up 41 percent from a year ago, with desktop shipments growing even faster than laptops. Apple is now the third leading computer vendor in the United States, Macintosh has an 8.5 share of the American market. Apple said iPod shipments jumped 12 percent. However Jobs did not join in on the conference call with investors like he usually does, and that prompted one analyst to inquire about his health. Jobs has survived pancreatic cancer. Charles Wolf with Needham & Co. said Apple's stock would probably drop 20 or 30 percent if Jobs were to leave the company. "There is one person there who really makes that operation excel, and it is Steve Jobs," he said. "It's difficult to argue that he doesn't have superhuman powers, given what he's done over the last five years." "He has no plan to leave Apple," Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer assured. He added, "Steve's health is a private matter."

Sure Mr. Jobs’ health is a private matter, but that flew in one ear and out the other as there is not a CEO in any company, in America or the World, who is as personally linked to his company’s products as closely as Jobs is. He is there at every stage, from creation to completion. Here follows Little Eddy’s brief history of Apple in a nutshell:

Apple Computer was founded April 1st, 1976 by the two Steves, Steve Wozniac and Steve Jobs, and it was incorporated on January 3, 1977. In the 80’s Jobs led the group that developed the Macintosh, and shortly thereafter he was fired by John Scully, the very CEO he had lured from Pepsi Cola by asking him if he really wanted sugar water to be his legacy to the world. From that point on Apple’s road was rocky, and by the mid nineties Apple was a company floundering, each week brought more rumors of its eminent collapse. Things were so bad that at a graphic arts convention someone asked Michael Dell, of Dell computers, what he would do with Apple were he in charge, and he replied he would shut it down, sell off its assets, and give the money to stockholders. Fortunately for the tech world Apple’s history played out a bit differently.

After leaving Apple Jobs founded NEXT, a firm manufacturing computers for business. He returned to Apple in 1996 when Apple bought NEXT and contracted for the NEXT operating system to be the basis for the next Macintosh operating system, OS X. Soon after Jobs was made interim C. E. O., and was listed as iCEO, the first of a series of historic creations beginning with the small letter i. Jobs came back to a company with way too many models of computers, whose sales were lagging, and whose stock was gathering dust in computer stores around the country. Jobs began by ending cloning, which was bleeding the company of business by giving away its operating system to other vendors to run on hardware of their own making, although he very cleverly brought the telephone sales staff of the most successful of the clone operations to Cupertino to form the basis of the Apple online store. Next he broke down the Macintosh into four distinct groups, desktop computers for business and graphic artists, desktop computers for the home, notebooks for professionals, and notebooks for home and students. Those were it, there would be no other models.

Then he made what many feel was the most momentous decision of all, he had his engineers build an all in one computer (with the screen housed in the same shell as the other components) meant for the home market, a computer with a translucent shell so you could see it’s CRT innards. He called it an iMac, it began life being offered in bondi blue and it went on to be offered in many colors, and the beige box for Apple home computers was dead on arrival. And Apple’s history was therein changed forever.

People tend to forget that technically Apple has always led the way. The original Macintosh circa 1984 was also an all in one computer with its viewing screen housed with the computer’s other components. It was the first computer to use a mouse as well as a keyboard to input data. It was also the first computer to offer a 1.5” floppy disk from which to load in or save data, other computers of the time used 5 inch disks that were indeed floppy. It is ironic that after beginning the floppy disk era with their original Macintosh, it was the birth of the iMac of the late 90’s which signaled the end of the floppy disk era, as the iMac lacked a floppy disk port, instead allowing you to both import from and export data to compact discs. The iMac has evolved steadily ever since. Next in its evolution was the lampshade iMac, which the lcd screen swing freely in the air, while the computer’s workings were hidden in its half round bass unit. But that was relatively short lived and soon gave way to the iMac’s latest and greatest incarnation, with the computers guts hidden in the back of a large liquid crystal display screen. It is this configuration that has become standard, so much so that two of Apple’s leading competitors, Dell and Gateway, have both developed all in one computers with their guts hiding behind the lcd display imitating the iMac. So that people who want Windows in their all-in-ones can now have that choice.

Some people credit Apple’s entry into the MP3 player market with the iPod as being the game changer that brought Apple’s products to the masses. The iPod was by no means the first MP3 player. But Apple brought the developers of an MP3 player to Apple to design the software and assigned a team of engineers to design the hardware. According to Wikipedia the name iPod is credited to a freelance copy writer name Vince Cheico who with others was called together to figure out how to introduce the new player to the public. After Chieco saw the prototype he recalled the phrase from 2001: A Space Odyssey, "Open the pod bay door, Hal!", which refers to the white EVA Pods of the Discovery One spaceship. A check with the US Patent office disclosed that the name iPod was already in use for internet kiosks, but they were discontinued by 2001. Apple leased the name from the original owner until the trademark could be assigned to it in 2005. But the hidden hook in the iTunes world, the thing which makes it so popular that it has surpassed WalMart as the number one source for music in the United States, is the iTunes store where you can buy a song online for 99 cents, and download it to your computer where it is automatically placed in your song collection, and these days you can even download songs directly from your iPhone or iPod Touch courtesy wifi.

But of course the latest Apple coup was in the development of the iPhone. It debuted in 2007, and was updated to the 3G phone with assisted GPS this July. It is said by many in the know to be the mobile game changer, for it is the first mobile platform with a true operating system, consquently it is the first true hand held computing platform disguised as a phone and an ipod. Apple reported selling one million of the 3G in its first weekend, and expects sales to reach ten million iPhones sold by the end of 2008.

Several days ago a most interesting story bylined by Lonnie Lazar surfaced on the website, Cult of the Mac. It seems that a software engineer named Satoshi Nakajima, who had been the lead architect of Microsoft’s Windows 95, picked up a Mac for the first time two years ago. He was so impressed, he says he’ll never touch a PC again. Satoshi loves Apple products so much he started a company in April, Big Canvas, to develop for Apple’s iPhone platform full-time. “We have chosen iPhone as the platform to release our first product (for) several reasons,” explains his company’s website. “We love Apple products… You need love to be creative.”

Based in Bellevue, WA — right next to Microsoft’s home turf of Redmond — Satoshi spent nearly 14 years at Microsoft, serving as the software architect of Windows 95 and 98. He also oversaw the development of Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0. While at Microsoft, he developed the third largest portfolio of intellectual property of any employee at the company, according to his bio. Last week, Satoshi released his company’s first iPhone application, Photoshare, a free, social networking app for sharing pictures with the iPhone.

Reassuring news concerning his health came from Steve Jobs himself, by way of Joe Nocera writing in the N.Y. Times of “Apple’s Culture of Secrecy.” Mr. Nocera wrote: “Thursday afternoon, several hours after I’d gotten my final “Steve’s health is a private matter” — and much to my amazement — Mr. Jobs called me. “This is Steve Jobs,” he began. “You think I’m an arrogant [expletive] who thinks he’s above the law, and I think you’re a slime bucket who gets most of his facts wrong.” After that rather arresting opening, he went on to say that he would give me some details about his recent health problems, but only if I would agree to keep them off the record. I tried to argue him out of it, but he said he wouldn’t talk if I insisted on an on-the-record conversation. So I agreed. Because the conversation was off the record, I cannot disclose what Mr. Jobs told me. Suffice it to say that I didn’t hear anything that contradicted the reporting that John Markoff and I did this week. While his health problems amounted to a good deal more than “a common bug,” they weren’t life-threatening and he doesn’t have a recurrence of cancer.” In quoting from Mr. Nocera’s generally excellent article on Apple’s secrecy and Steve Jobs’ health, I left off his parting, slightly snide closing. It went like this: After he hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I had just been handed, by Mr. Jobs himself, the very information he was refusing to share with the shareholders who have entrusted him with their money. You would think he’d want them to know before me. But apparently not.

I add it here with the notation, of course he wanted to inform his stockholders, that’s why he called you. And how clever of him to swear you to secrecy, so that they don’t really know, but have to take your word on the state of his health. In a way that tells more really, than if he had opened the conversation, because it shows how well he is in charge.

How refreshing to read that Mr. Jobs came on in the venacular of the late Fake Steve Jobs. Damn it S J, whether you like it or not, you are the secret sauce of Apple’s entire lineup of Big Macs, pods, and phones. It is your vision, your expertise, your unmitigated devotion to your product line that remains unmatched in the world of manufacturing and business. Already the rumor mills are cranking out news of exciting breakthrough products waiting in the wings. We’re glad as hell you’re alright and hope you have many good years ahead of you. Please stay well so you can bring each and every one of these unique creations to us in your own inimitable style. And keep those breathtaking innovations coming. Many of us out here in dull real world have a real jones for the fruits of your high tech loom.
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Little Eddy’s weekly musings are dedicated to the memory of Samuel B. Clements, aka Mark Twain, who in literature was the first to capture true American life and speech, and who in his lectures and writings spent much of his time berating the shenanigans of our government. We are also inspired by the work of the late George Carlin, who told it like he saw it, with acute insight and unblushing honesty. We thank you for dropping by and hope to see you again next week. We post Saturday mornings and it stays up all week. Please come and see us again, and point any friends who you think might enjoy our ruminations towards us. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blog #45: Earth from 31 Million Miles

Want a great image to start the week. Check out this NASA image of the earth and moon from 31 million miles away, thanks to Eric Berger’s science blog in and of course NASA and YouTube. As you are checking it out you can pretend you’re either leaving earth, or better yet, discovering it for the first time.

Too happy for you? Prefer a depressing thought instead? Try this one on for size: our soon to be erstwhile president George W. Bush and his main man for vice, Dick Cheney, feel absolutely no guilt whatsoever over the near irreparable damage that together they have inflicted upon the U.S. constitution and American values, with their unlimited detentions, their illicit trawling of email traffic thanks to the generosity of cooperating telecoms, the lies and distortions they used to run up to the invasion of Iraq, and their conscious running of the war in Iraq for the economic profits of big corporations, and most especially those associated with veep Cheney. In point of fact I’m quite sure they sleep with the innocence of babes, and in their waking moments they probably take a great deal of pride in the damage they have managed to inflict on the American Way of Life.

Quote of the week: It is really, really, really hard to put a finger on Bush's worst blunder. I mean they all could stand a good chance of taking that title. Environment, oil company tax breaks, tax cuts for the rich, Iraq, Iran, play cowboy antics, et. al. This guy is quite simply the worst acting president (Cheney is vice-president in chief) this country has ever had. And while he continued to destroy the environment he destroyed almost everything else he touched as well. – a comment by rkoenn posted in the Huffington Post appending an article on Bush and Global Warming.

Enter satire eager to help those of us burdened with both a conscience and a feel for traditional values deal with today’s surreal happenings. Will sharp humor help us t0 retain our sanity during the countdown to the end of the Bush administration? The New Yorker tried its hand this past week with its cartoonish cover depicting a muslim clad Barack Obama and his well-armed wife Michelle bumping fists in the oval office, as an American flag burned in the fireplace, and a picture of Osama Bin Laden looked down approvingly from the wall. Every right wing fantasy you’ve heard of served up in that one cover, right?

Well, the only media person who seemed to see this for what it really was, funny and inconsequential as regards the presidential campaign, was surprisingly, James Carville, the former advisor for the Clinton White House who is generally credited with having created the campaign slogan which got Clinton elected the first time around, “It’s the Economy, Stupid!” Most media types chose to affect an air of being offended, including Obama himself who said he didn’t mind it personally, as running for the presidency soon outfits you with a rather thick skin, but he decried how it might offend Muslims. However Jon Daily of the Stewart Show (his own juxtaposition by the way) put all of the media uproar, and Wolf Blitzer in particular, in proper perspective and then some. To experience it go here:

Little Eddy note: while it is refreshing to be able to access episodes of The Daily Show online, and we’re really glad that the Daily Show and Comedy Central have their own web site and are doing well with it, will somebody please explain to Sumner Redstone who is continuing Viacom’s suit against YouTube for doing exactly what he himself is now doing online, will somebody please explain to him that the reason Comedy Central is doing so well in its online offerings is because YouTube did it first and showed the public’s need for online access to tv, that videos from tv shows was something they would want to see? Comedy Central is directly benefitting from what YouTube created, it even allows its videos to be embedded on other people’s websites so they can be picked up and spread all over the web, like mushrooms popping up in the woods and the fields in late summer. However, we did not embed it here for fear of riling Viacom further, being as how Google and YouTube are being sued as we write.

If it’s Election Time it must be JibJab time. Satire on a different plane from our favorite creators of politically hilarious animations, the brothers JibJab. Their latest creation, to the tune of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A’Changing, is called It’s Time for Campaigning. You’ve probably seen pieces of it on the news channels. In the JibJab tradition it is a no holds barred brilliant and funny exposition of the electioneering process. You can see it here:

And as an added bonus you can even put yourself or a friend in the video. Just follow the instructions at the end of the video.
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The Tech world, or a least a substantial part of it, went ga-ga last week over Apple’s latest variation of the iPhone, called the iPhone 3-G. In spite of the tech hell experienced by many during activation on first day purchases, most people who went through the two or three hours of activation nightmares, seemed to be forgiving, even those who were not able to activate while still in the store.

Word from the early reviewers seems very positive too, even though a couple of major deficiencies which the first phone suffered from were evidently not corrected in the second. No cut and paste, for instance, and still a battery which can’t be swapped out as needed, but when it will no longer charge must be sent back to the factory for replacement. However, in addition to the faster 3-G service and the inclusion of a GPS positioning chip, the main improvement seems to be Apple’s new online App Store, to distribute the programs that developers have been working on since the SDK was distributed some months ago. Word is that with it’s rapid fire internet access it’s collection of true computer programs being written for it, the Apple iPhone is the first true mobile computing platform which the entire breed of smartphones will be measured against. And for the first time ever a good many laptop users will be able to leave their laptops at home on that next trip, having their computing needs met by their iPhones.

For a good time at iPhone’s expense check out JamesWax, who posted a very funny blog called, Why We Wait in Line for iPhone 3-G and You Are Inferior.
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It is a truly interesting age, this age we live in, is it not?. If you are online the word of the day, any day, is discovery. Last Sunday I was checking out Mininova, the site that bills itself as the ultimate bit torrent site, and which claim the latest survey bears out, with Pirate’s Bay coming in second. Usually I know what I’m after, so I type the name of whatever I’m interested into the search box at the top of the page and go from there. However, on this day I had nothing specific in mind, so I scrolled down Mininova’s list of favored offerings. When I got to the movie section I was intrigued with the very first title on the list. It was called: Y. P. F. (which stands for Young People doing what that famous onomatopoetic Carlin seven word that begins with an F refers to. I’m sure just about everybody alive knows the word, but for some strange reason we’re not supposed to say it on television, or in polite company.)

At any rate, what an intriguing title. Damn, what could it be about? Is it a serious? Or pornographic? Either way I’ll take it, but it would be neat if it was serious. Well, two clicks and it was added to my download queues. And although movies are large files which usually take days to download, there was something like 61 people seeding this movie, and it completed downloading in well under four hours. Whee!

Folks, it is a fascinating movie. About, well even a seven year old knows from the title pretty much what it was about. But of course, what you don’t know was whether this was a serious attempt to document mankind’s most popular and fruitful pastime, or was it just another X-rated piece of trash. I’m happy to report that it is the former, a fascinating and at times humorous attempt to cover several types of sexual escapades. It is well acted and well filmed, a straightforward legitimate movie completed with help from the Canadian Film Board. There are no actors I recognized in it, which for me makes it all the better, for I have no preconceived notions about them. It’s just with a title like that, how is it going to find an audience? True it found me by way of bit torrent. But that’s not going to help the film company pay its bills.

I decided to write about the movie in my blog, because I found it a film well worth seeing, reminiscent of some of those foreign movies I used to seek out in the 1950’s, and I thought if you read about it one or two of you out there might want to see it when it is available. The first thing I did was to do a search at to see if a DVD was available. Nothing came up. Then I returned to Google and did a search for: movie Y. P. F. (Young People Fucking) which is how it had been listed in Mininova. And this generated a movie revue by, of all people, Roger Ebert:

Ebert’s review reported that the film opened June 13 in Canada, and is scheduled to open later in the summer in the U.S. From his revue: “Having seen the film and been pleasantly surprised by it, I now have more thoughts about the title, which is "Young People Fucking" on the print itself, and "Young People F***ing" in the advertising. I'm not convinced the title does the film any favors. Yes, it calls attention to itself and generates publicity, but it doesn't suggest that this will be a good-humored, thoughtful, observant film, which it is.

“To get the essential question out of the way at the beginning: Yes, this is an "adult" film, but only technically. It is not hard-core. It contains no genitals of either sex, and no "money shots," as the porn industry inelegantly calls them. It is simply about five couples who meet, talk, and have sex. Sometimes they even seem to be making love. It was shot in five apartments, and some doorsteps.”

Roger’s favorite of the tales he reports on was the story titled The Roomates. He writes: “Here we get Gord (Ennis Ermer) and his roommate Dave (Peter Oldring), and Gord's girlfriend Inez (Natalie Lisinska). Gord suggests Dave join him and Inez in bed. Dave, a quiet kinda guy, goes along with it. Then it turns out Gord would rather watch (while eating a submarine sandwich) than participate. Then Gord starts coaching Dave: "She really likes it when you grab her hair!" Then Gord's hand is on Dave's butt, which Dave does not appreciate. Finally all three are smoking cigarettes.

“And so it goes. Not a great movie, but fun, and the title makes it sound cheaper than it is. I liked a sequence in which a girl employs a sexual device on her guy(’s hindquarters), the guy afterwards complaining that when he said "wait," "stop," and “no" nothing happened. He complained, "When a girl says 'no,' that means to stop!" You have to admit he has a point.”

In Little Eddy’s summation, I can’t imagine this film arriving at your neighborhood multiplex any time soon. But I suspect it will draw comfortable sized audiences to the Art Theatre of your choice. Most probably if the producers are smart it will also come out on DVD sometime soon, so you’ll be able to wrap your eyes around it in the privacy of your own home. If you just can’t wait to see it and your computer is into bit torrents you can go where I went: However, when I tried this link on Monday, the day after I had downloaded the movie myself, I drew a blank. Y. P. F. wasn’t listed under Monday’s movies, and when I went to the top of the page and did a search for it, nothing came up which could lead an observant person to speculate that the movie was pulled for one reason or another. However, I did another search in Google for: movie Y.P.F. (Young People Fucking), and once again I got Roger Ebert’s revue at the top of the page, but the second listing offered a free bit torrent download of the movie. Which I suppose you can try if you’re interested. If it’s in Google it must be real, right? Good luck .
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Speaking of films, the London Telegraph has released correspondence to and from the late film director Stanley Kubrick, who directed such films as 2001, A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, as well as Spartacus, Lolita, and Eyes Wide Shut. The full text of the letters may be found here:

Spartacus was the film that would establish Kubrick as major force in cinema. But not everyone was happy throughout filming.

June 5, 1959 To Laurence Olivier

Dear Larry, I am sorry the rushes were late yesterday and I was unable to come by for that drink. I hope that when you see the finished film you will be less disturbed about certain things than are now. In any case, I should like to thank you for the decent way you have behaved about the things with which you were in such disagreement. Good luck and Best Regards, Stanley.

LOLITA, 1962 (with James Mason as Humbert and Sue Lyon as Lolita)

Laurence Olivier, who had originally agreed to star as Professor Humbert Humbert if he could co-write the script, pulls out of the project.

December 15, 1959 To Stanley Kubrick from Laurence Olivier

Having scrutinised the book curiously and intensely during the last week I do not feel my mind grasping a film conception of the subject and I therefore don’t feel that I can very well bear the onus of the responsibility of partnership in the script of a subject concerning which strong doubts are so uppermost in my mind. These doubts come from a conviction that the chief merit in the book lies in the author’s brilliant original and witty descriptive powers and I can’t see how this particular virtue is photographable. I fear that told in terms of dialogue the subject would be reduced to the level of pornography to which I’m afraid quite a few people already consign it. I could not guarantee to myself that I would be much use in getting it right and therefore cannot feel that I should guarantee to you that I would play the part whatever happened. Full of admiration as I am for the book my faith in it as a film subject is shaky.

Kubrick outlines the project to Peter Ustinov, perhaps with a view to casting…

May 20, 1960 To Peter Ustinov

I think the most important thing to say about Lolita is that it is a love story. A sad tender eventually heart-breaking story of passion-love. Humbert’s love is a passion-love. It is in the tradition of the middle ages, the tradition of courtly love, a love that is at once scandalous, masochistic and tortured. It is a very different love than the modern ideal, where the values are placed in “maturity”, “togetherness” and “health”. The literal meaning of the word passion will quickly suggest how far from the modern ideal it is. The passion-lover is sick with his love. His passion fills his entire being to the total exclusion of everything else. He expects his mistress to make him suffer and submits willingly to her cruelty and enslavement ... the censorship thing does not concern me very much. The film will be fairly innocent as far as what the eye will see.

And Kubrick shows that he is against “sexing up” the film for more liberal European audiences.

October 3, 1961 To Eliot Hyman, Lolita’s executive producer

Dear Eliot, RE: Addition Humbert crawling into bed segment. Needless to say the confusion and chances for screw-ups don’t seem to balance the questionable gain of the sequence. The people who will be disappointed that Lolita is not a filthy picture with slobber love scenes, semi-nudity and outrageous postures will not be appeased, while on the other hand there are some people who will be horrified, shocked and offended by this sequence which is not in the same genre of the film. Artistically it contributes nothing that would otherwise be lacking. I would strongly recommend that we drop the idea.


In pre-production, and casting matters arise, but Kubrick ever has his eye on the money.

November 19, 1962 To James Harris, producer

Thanks very much for the Gene Kelly matter. I think he’ll be a fabulous off-beat choice if we can work things out with him. Please try to create the impression in his mind that we’re very tight on money (we are).

July 22, 1963 To Jack Wiener, in Columbia Pictures, Paris

I have checked a number of sources (most of them in France) on the subtitle. Bim bam bombe sounds like a Jerry Lewis picture.

Late 1963 Telex to Editor of the London Evening Standard

I must correct a false impression… In the case of Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the choice of England was solely dictated by the fact that Peter Sellers’ presence in England was required during the filming in order to appear in court for his divorce. But don’t get me wrong. I love England.

December 17,1964 To an un-named advertising executive

If you place any value on my friendship you will discontinue this bewildering display of rudeness. I am not used to being treated as a pest. I am used to having my phone calls promptly returned – not being brushed off to assistants. You are the only one who has ever done this to me and my willingness to accept this method of operation has apparently destroyed all perspective as to what might constitute reasonable treatment of me. The lack of what might even be considered routine planning has resulted in no proper screening facilities being available for the Academy. It has also resulted in an amateurishly mis-booking at the Crest theater which can contribute little to the nominations, opening the day before the ballots are sent. I know you are very busy, but so am I. I am working around the clock with a writer who has a tax deadline by which he must leave the country. And I have two stars who are making almost daily trans-Atlantic phone calls trying to juggle other start dates. The whole thing has virtually stopped all work on my script and between the realities of the problem and the maddening attempts to reach you the effect has been disastrous to my time.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, 1968 The process of collaboration between Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke begins.

March 31, 1964
Dear Mr Clarke, It’s a very interesting coincidence that our mutual friend Caras mentioned you in a conversation we were having about a Questar telescope. I had been a great admirer of your books for quite a time and had always wanted to discuss with you the possibility of doing the proverbial really good science-fiction movie. My main interest lies along these broad areas naturally assuming great plot and character.

1. The reasons for believing in the existence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.
2. The impact (and perhaps even lack on impact in some quarters) such discovery would have on earth in the near future.
3. A space probe with a landing and exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Would you consider coming sooner with a view to a meeting, the purpose of which would be to determine whether an idea might exist or arise which could sufficiently interest both of us enough to want to collaborate on a screenplay?”

And so went the letters. After experiencing masterpieces such as Kubrick’s films it is refreshing to note that their creator was not omnipotent after all, but human, very human. And in realizing his projects he was faced with frustrations not unlike those the rest of us are daily faced with. If you find yourself really getting into Kubrick be sure to go to Chris Hasting’s interview with his widow, Christiane Kubrick, for a more complete picture of one of film’s more interesting icons. You can find it here:

Little Eddy, who was for many years a film buff, places Stanley Kubrick in such lofty cinematic company as Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish born explorer of the vagaries of the human personality, and Luis Bunuel, the Spanish born father of cinematic surrealism. Kubrick’s epics have in some cases changed society’s behavior, for example Dr. Strangelove, which turned the spotlight on the US Cold War paranoid practice of flying nuclear armed bombers right up to Russia’s borders, then back to their bases.

Thank you for visiting us this week. We hope to see you again next week.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blog #44: Let's Hear It for YouTube

Ain’t YouTube grand? Nobody can get away with nothing any more. If they try it will surely be posted on YouTube. For instance, the McCain campaign had a 61 year old librarian removed from a rally in Denver, Colo. Friday for carrying a handwritten sign. The sign said simply: McCain = Bush. You can view the video here and see for yourself:

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Let us shed a sympathetic tear for the G.O.P. This past spring the once noble party of Abraham Lincoln (with George W. Bush on the other end of the seesaw) lost all three of its congressional races to Democratic challengers, each one in a rock solid Republican district, and according to reliable reports from reputable sources this bad news and various other assorted omens are serving to convince Republican activists that they are in what Bush the father might have termed deep doodoo. (At least Bush 1’s #1 imitator Dana Carvey liked to use the term.) However, the never to be flustered Republicans are already planning ahead trying and find a way out of the losses they fully expect this November. Their strategy is centered on winning gubernatorial races of various states in 2010. Presently there are 28 Democratic governors. If Republicans can just turn the tide at a statewide level, they could attempt to regain their Congressional majorities by redistricting those states to facilitate Republican races following the 2010 Census.

"The 2010 elections are almost as important or equally important as the elections this year,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association, whose comments reflect a massive dose of wishful fantasy and pipe dreaming with or without a controlled substance. “After redistricting in 2011, the governors are going to have a huge influence in determining the political makeup of this country," . "We could feasibly see 25 to 30 congressional seats swing as the result of redistricting. And the state legislatures and governors could determine that swing. Can the National Republican Congressional Committee make a statement like that with a straight face? It would be harder for them."

That strategy was the precise route taken by Texas’ own dearly departed Tom DeLay, the former House leader from Sugarland, Texas who several years ago reshaped the Texas House delegation with a highly partisan redistricting of the state. DeLay got his Republican House all right, but his consequent grand jury indictment at the hands of Austin district attorney Ronnie Earle tended to put somewhat of a damper on his future in the House, since after his indictment he was forced by House Rules to resign his seat. His silk stocking Sugarland district is currently being represented, horror upon horror, by Nick Lampson, a Democrat, whose former district was melded into DeLay’s Sugarland district. That’ll show you Tom DeLay, redistricting can be a two-way, as well as a dead end street.

Of course, as a last resort errant Republicans could try serving the interests of the majority of their constituency, rather than just serving the interests of the monied few at the top of the economic heap. However, if they did that they would undoubtedly lose much of their luster and most 0f their funding, and would probably end up being all but indistinguishable from Democrats. Bite your tongue, Little Eddy!
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Another Texas alumni is in the news these days. Dear old Phil Gramm, who once taught economics to future farmers (at Texas A&M college.) The former senator's suggestion that much of Americans' economic pain and uncertainty is psychosomatic came in an interview with the conservative Washington Times. "You've heard of mental depression. This is a mental recession," he told the paper. "We have sort of become a nation of whiners. ... You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."

"I guess what he meant was, it's a figment of your imagination, these high gas prices," Barack Obama told supporters in Fairfax, Va. "America already has one Dr. Phil. We don't need another one when it comes to the economy." Mr. McCain – clearly unhappy with the distraction – said that people who've lost their jobs or are struggling to pay bills aren't suffering from a " 'mental recession.' ... America is in great difficulty, and we are experiencing economic challenges."

Asked if he still would consider Mr. Gramm for Treasury secretary or another top administration post, he said, "Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I'm not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that." Although most felt that to be a joke, while delivering it McCain did not crack a smile.

Mr. Gramm is a "pretty savvy guy" on economics, said political scientist Bruce Buchanan at the University of Texas at Austin. But "what Gramm is doing here is effectively insulting the American people. ... Gramm ought to know better than that as a former presidential candidate. But people with strong opinions sometimes speak too strongly to be politic." Dr. Buchanan predicted that Mr. Gramm will be forced into a far lower profile, perhaps offering advice only by telephone from now on.

Mr. Gramm didn't respond to an interview request placed through aides at UBS, the Swiss banking firm where he is vice chairman. But he called the Washington Times on Thursday to clarify that he wasn't criticizing the public. Rather, he was faulting "American leaders who whine instead of lead. ... Certainly too many members of Congress and the Barack Obama campaign fall into the category of whiners." We hold out hopes that after the coming November election the loudest whiners of all will be all of the Republicans who will have been soundly voted out of office.
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The new iphone 3G went on sale Friday in Apple and AT&T stores nationwide, amd although there is definite interest in the phone, of course the interest is nowhere near comparable to the interest created by the initial iphone offering. What few have noted, however, is that with the creation of the Applications Store the iphone has become an even hotter property, and Apple’s OS X mobile system has the possibility of doing in the smart phone field what Apple failed to do early on in the computer business. That is, draw up an operating system that will likely become an industry standard.

Few companies have the obsession with quality and ease of use that Apple has for its products (a company that has similar standards in kitchen products would be Cuisinart.) A recent survey of the original iphone showed that after only six months of availability the Apple iphone had garnered 28% of the smart phone market, second only to RIM (Blackberry) products, but more than all other software providers combined, including Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile. However, recently several speculators have conjectured that with Apple’s new phone’s inclusion of “push” capabilities for email, etc., the iphone, combined with its other talents, has a very good chance of doing in the mobile computing world what Apple’s Macintosh system had not been able to do in the world of personal computing, and that is become the standard platform of choice. Nothing is set in stone as yet, of course, Apple is still a minority player in the mobile industry, but because of it’s diversity and ease of use the iphone’s prospects seem huge.
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When a Belgium brewer is in friendly talks to buy Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser and Bud Lite, what does that say about the state of the American economy and the place of the United States in the world’s economy? After initial hostility to the idea of it being taken over by the Belgium brewer, Anheuser-Busch is now reported to be in friendly talks. InBev has raised its offer to $70 a share, more than the $65 it had initially offered, a person close to the talks said. Helping drive the deal was an indication that some of Anheuser’s largest shareholders, including Warren E. Buffett, were leaning towards backing a deal with InBev. Next foreign interests will be buying our purple mountains majesty and our amber waves of grain.
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With the installation of Firefox 3, although Camino (also a product of the Mozilla Foundation, but a browser more closely matched with Mac OS X) is the browser of my choice, I have taken a renewed interest in Firefox which sports a Stumble Upon button on its tool bar. Stumble Upon is a website which matches you up with sites of interests which match the profile you give it. It is a fascinating experience. For instance I hit the Stumble button just now and an article called the Improbably of God by Richard Dawkins came up: Mr. Dawkins starts out by reminding us of what attrocities people have done in the name of God. “Irishmen blow each other up in his name. Arabs blow themselves up in his name. Imams and ayatollahs oppress women in his name. Celibate popes and priests mess up people's sex lives in his name. Jewish shohets cut live animals' throats in his name. The achievements of religion in past history – bloody crusades, torturing inquisitions, mass-murdering conquistadors, culture-destroying missionaries, legally enforced resistance to each new piece of scientific truth until the last possible moment – are even more impressive.” In case what you’ve read so far intrigues you here is the page’s URL:

This morning’s second Stumble turned up a page with a Random Title Generator. There are six places for titles and when I pressed the Give Me Some Titles button the following appeared: Forgotten Consort, The Final Night, Door of Voyages, The Ships’s Man, The Soul of the Trainer, Night in the Stones. Interesting, what?

My third Stumble of the morning brought me to AccuRadio, which calls itself the Next Generation of Radio, where you can click of various types of music channels, or Build Your Own Channel.

My fourth Stumble produced a series of labels that heretics can paste onto the Gideon Bibles one finds in hotel and motel rooms. Labels like: Warning Literal belief in this book may endanger your mental health and life!

And at: we stumbled upon the following quotations: Albert Einstein: I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his [sic] creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious ourselves.

Bertrand Russell: In conclusion, there is a marvelous anecdote from the occasion of Russell's ninetieth birthday that best serves to summarize his attitude toward God and religion. A London lady sat next to him at this party, and over the soup she suggested to him that he was not only the world's most famous atheist but, by this time, very probably the world's oldest atheist. "What will you do, Bertie, if it turns out you're wrong?" she asked. "I mean, what if -- uh -- when the time comes, you should meet Him? What will you say?" Russell was delighted with the question. His bright, birdlike eyes grew even brighter as he contemplated this possible future dialogue, and then he pointed a finger upward and cried, "Why, I should say, 'God, you gave us insufficient evidence.'" (Al Seckel, in Preface to Bertrand Russell on God and Religion)

I’m sure you get the idea. For those of you who would like to do your own stumbling you can go to: and sign up.
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T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman, was so sure that the 2004 campaign to discredit John Kerry’s war record run by the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was accurate that last November he offered $1 million to anyone who could disprove any of the accusations. Now that a second group, the first of which was Kerry himself, has taken him up on his offer and provided proof, he is changing his story.

A group of Swift boat veterans sympathetic to Mr. Kerry sent Mr. Pickens a letter last week taking him up on the challenge. In 12 pages, plus a 42-page attachment of military records and other documents, they identified not just one but ten lies in the group’s campaign against Mr. Kerry. They offered to meet with him to provide Mr. Kerry’s journals and videotapes from Vietnam and a copy of his full military record certified by the Navy – a key demand of Mr. Pickens and veterans who believe Mr. Kerry lied about his service to win his military decorations.

Mr. Pickens replied with a one-page letter, thanking the veterans for their research and their service, but politely saying there had been a misunderstanding. “Key aspects of my offer of $1 million have not been accurately reported,” he wrote. When he offered the reward at an American Spectator dinner in November, blogs sympathetic to Mr. Pickens reported that he had not challenged anyone to disprove “anything” the Swift boat group said. In his letter, Mr. Pickens explained that his bet actually applied to only the television ads the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth bought, and not to their bestselling book or the media interviews that generated more attention than the ads themselves.

“In reviewing your material, none of the information you provide speaks specifically to the issues contained in the ads,” he wrote, “and, as a result, does not qualify for the $1 million.” It was pretty much the same response he had given to Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, who seized the challenge immediately after Mr. Pickens made it last year. Pickens offered more generous compliments in his letter to the veterans, and suggested that they take up their issues with John O’Neill, the founder of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. (Mr. O’Neill, who first debated Mr. Kerry about the war in Vietnam on the Dick Cavett show in 1971, does not cede anything.) As for this this presidential cycle, Mr. Pickens says he will not give any money to partisan causes.

However, in spite of the foolishness he helped fund in 2004 which helped perpetuate this trainwreck that is our current Washington leadership, he does seem to be coming to his economic senses in 2008. His observations on the state of the nation’s fuel situation seem accurate, and he is certainly putting his own money where his mouth is. More than likely you’ve already run into his little sermon on America’s energy situation. If not click below:

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The now lonely and occasionally delusional CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer (Bill Gates has left the building), was in Houston last week to address a convention of Microsoft Partners. Brad Hem in the Houston Chronicle reported on the event: On a day when most of the technology buzz surrounded Friday's scheduled debut of Apple's new 3-G iPhone, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a crowd in Houston his company needs to do more "cool" stuff. "We haven't surprised people quite as much as we need to," Ballmer said, speaking Wednesday to thousands of Microsoft partners in town for an annual conference. "What we need to do is have products that surprise people, that delight people." He disputed the idea that Apple or Google is cooler than Microsoft. "They're more newsworthy," he acknowledged.

Of course what Mr. Ballmer seems to have failed to grasp is that before you can put out products that are “cool” you have to be able to identify what exactly makes a product “cool.” While Microsoft with its X-Box was busy trying to outdo the graphics of Sony’s PlayStation, Nintendo surged ahead of both of them with its motion controlled Wii system. And Microsoft’s MP3 player, the Zune, is certainly no iPod killer, it isn’t even the second or third ranking MP3 player out there. These days Microsoft seems to excel in just one thing: Envy. Google Envy and Apple Envy come to mind. Not that Microsoft is in any immediate danger of losing it’s hold on desktop computing in spite of Apple’s recent gains in the market, and the open source world of Linux that is beckoning those who have begun to resent MS’s substantially priced software. And then there’re the European Union’s continual fines against the very corporate behavior which had allowed Microsoft to build its monopoly in the first place.

On the other hand putting aside Microsoft’s original hold on the world of the computer, Windows and Office, it’s products are not that much better than the competition, and in some cases are inferior. And rewarding people with cash for clicking on products in its search engine might bring up, will not work nearly as well as Google’s algorithms which bring up your information requests faster and with more accuracy. Also Google realized the true characteristic of the internet: that it should be open to everyone who wishes it and it should be free. It is no secret why Google search rules the web, it is better and faster than the competition. And obviously search is the most valuable vehicle for finding content on the web.

Mr. Ballmers also promised the partners that MS was going to do a series of ads on its own to counter the Apple ads. However, Mr. Ballmer needs to worry less about being cool and answering Apple’s computer guy ads, and more about directing his company to produce an operating system that people will truly want to own. One that’s so undeniably fast and stable that Apple’s computer guy commercials won’t be relevant any more. In short he doesn’t need to fight Apple’s ads with ads of his own. He needs to make a stable operating system that people will celebrate, as many people celebrate Apple’s OS X.
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I have an interesting question to pose for your prudent ponderability. Why do we as a nation refuse to admit to our past mistakes and pretend we can do no wrong? I mean really, we proved that to be a lie with the torture rampant at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. But in our heart of hearts we deny that we have ever done anything wrong. It is so basic a law of nature. Neither a country nor an individual can improve his/its behavior as long as he/it refuses to admit bad behavior or reason to change.

We are waist deep in the Big Muddy that is Iraq because we would not admit to our failures in Korea and Vietnam, and the fallacy under which we originally entered those conflicts. Consequently we left ourselves open for a repeat in kind.

Let’s face it, we were engaged in warfare first in Korea and later in Vietnam because the powers that be in Washington, what the late David Halberstam called “the best and the brightest,” sincerely deluded themselves into believing that America was engaged in a power struggle to the death for the hearts and minds of the people of Asia and the world against communism. In Vietnam we had hopelessly confused freedom with servitude under the remnants of Colonial rule that was created when the generals from the north who moved south after the peace treaty was signed.

As ridiculous as it seems in the wake of the demise of Soviet Russia and the subsequent disintegration of the Berlin Wall, our foreign policy from the end of World War II until the demise of the Wall was predicated on the assumption that we were in a constant life and death strugle with the communist world. We as a nation were so paranoid that during the 1950’s our bombers armed with nuclear weapons flew night and day sorties right up to Russian air space, at which point they then turned around and flew back to their bases. This of course, wasn’t common knowledge at the time, if people had realized that such an absurdity was going on surely there would have been enough sane Americans to protest it. This ridiculous, expensive, and highly dangerous practice was finally abandoned thanks in part to the Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Stangelove, which for the first time showed the people of the United States a depiction of the practice, and what its dire consequences might be.

During the entire cold war this country operated on the assumption that Communism was evil and wrong, but if one tiny bastion of communism should set its foot down anywhere in the world, other nations would fall to the evil. This theory was developed during the Eisenhower regime by the brothers Dulles (John Foster was Secretary of State and Allen Dulles headed the CIA) and it was widely believed, and it even had a name. The Domino Theory. And its true believers permeated the federal government from State to Defense to CIA, to what have you. Said President Dwight D. Eisenhower in describing it: “Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.” This theory was the impetus which got us into two wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. In each case our involvement was intended to stem the ever incursive surge of the communist menace.

Of course, the entire country had suffered through World War II and in order to be victorious it had been necessary for all of us to give up things. Because of the massiveness of the Second World War, requiring engagement on many fronts, the American people had willingly put up with these hardships. However, neither Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower in the case of Korea nor Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon in the case of Vietnam dared put the American population through the kind 0f sacrifices which would have been required to wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat. Lyndon Johnson even coined the term “guns and butter” to describe how the country was going to wage the war in a way that would be painless to the American people. And especially in the case of Vietnam the US leadership clearly misjudged a strong nationalist desire for independence from colonial rule with the menace of communism.

Korea ended up where it began, at the 38th parallel, with neither side showing any particular gain from the conflict. The communist regime in North Korea remained in power, as did the so-called democratically elected regime in South Korea. The Domino was held in check. United States meddling in the case of Vietnam was more distinct. Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the north, was as much a nationalist as he was communist. He had worked all his life to gain Vietnam’s idependence from French rulers of the colony. When the communists defeated the French in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu the peace treaty called for elections to be held in both halves of the severed Vietnam. However, the United States failed to hold the elections called for because as president Eisenhower later put it, “Ho Chi Minh would have gotten 80% of South Vietnam’s vote.” Of course, isn’t a plurality of 80% of the population just what democracy is all about? Well, not in the fifties, not if the 80% favored a communist leadership.

If we had not been guided by obsessed, misguided leadership after World War II we might have never gotten involved in Korea and Vietnam, a massive waste of lives and resources. And if we were the type of nation to admit to our mistakes and attempt to learn from them, we would not have been such fodder for the Bush leadup to the invasion of Iraq. Bush might have railed against Sadamm Hussein’s corrupt regime, but the fact is that Washington has always been quick to support dictatorships, seemingly the bloodier the better. The U. S. Army even trains soldiers from select South American dictatorships in the fine points of keeping a people repressed. It is a democracy in which the people of a country freely cast their vote to put their government in power that the powers that be in Washington are most suspicious of. And in many cases we subsequently begin covertly subverting the country toward the dictator of our preference. Ah well, maybe next time we’ll know better. SAY WHAT???!!!

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Blog #43: A Creative Juices Overflow

Our creative juices have been overflowing of late, and to give them a proper direction we have created the following television commercial which we hereby donate without asking compensation to the John McCain presidential campaign.

Scene: Fully armed American soldiers storming a residence in Iraq.

Narrator: We here at the Bush administration know that wars can get quite boring after four or five years, even the ones we start, and especially those we are not winning. (Don’t you dare translate not winning to losing. The American military does not lose!) You will be interested to know that our president feels the pain of your boredom, night after night seeing the same old soldiers storming the same old buildings.

Scene: More soldiers storming more Iraqi residences.

Narrator: Now we’re not altogether dumb here in the Bush administration, in spite of what some of you nasty bloggers out there might infer. We know we sold you a bill of goods back in 2003, a bill of goods which allowed us to invade the independent nation of Iraq without causing John and Suzy Q. Public to get their entrails tied up in knots. And we also know that as of now most of you know that what we sold you back then was a fictitious bill of goods.

Scene: Soldiers storming building dissolves into a tranquil nighttime scene. A pastoral scene of peace and beauty, palm trees gently shimmering in the breeze, their swaying illuminated by moonlight.

Narrator: However, that was then, and this is now. Our new warnings come from very special intelligence we have obtained from deep in the heart of Iran. Intelligence which is true and accurate, honest injun! Did you know that Iran is working night and day to develop nuclear weapons? I realize that they have given testimony that they are pursuing only peaceful uses of atomic energy, and our government’s own intelligence sources reported that Iran had given up nuclear weapon development back in 2003. Well, if you believe that my friends I have an administration in Washington which I would be happy to sell you. Cheap.

Scene: The darkness of the night is suddenly lit up by a gigantic flash, the ensuing firestorm creating a gigantic mushroom cloud which fills the screen.

Narrator: However, you must take claims like Iran is only developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes with the gigantic grain of salt it deserves. For in the Iranian language of “death to all Americans and Israelites”, do most certainly means don’t, and won’t of course really means will. Our president knows this, and he is most anxious for you to join him in this knowledge, so that he might spice up your evening news with nightly freshly taken Pentagon footage of myriad streams of bombs leaving the gaping bomb-bays of our noble flying machines on their way to their new home in Iran.

Scene: Gaping bomb-bays show streams of bombs in perfect alignment as they fall to the land below. Far below the series of resulting explosions looks tiny in the great distance as they strike the ground.

Narrator: That’s all there is to it, my friends. Not one word out of any of you is guaranteed to bring nightly scenes of destruction like this to your high definition television screens like you won’t believe, and it will also help ensure John McCain’s election to the presidency, which will mean the enthusiastic continuation of all of those mid east policies you have grown to know and love during the Bush years.

Scene: shifts to an Iranian road lined with women and children shedding tears of joy and holding flowers and waving to the unending line of oncoming hunvee vehicles bearing the troops of the American occupation.

Narrator: And there in a nutshell you have the story of president Bush’s Iranian invasion, the victory of which we can assure you will come a lot quicker than our Iraqi victory has. And ladies and gentlemen, if you can believe this we have a John McCain presidency for your consideration.
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Well friends, I really hate to bring this up at a time like this, so soon after our country’s birthday, but I am afraid that as a nation we are in what a classical mind might term DEEP EXCRETA! We’re talking mile high stools here, if you get my drift. Just be careful not to stand downwind from it.

As I see it our problem is that we happen to have this president who has the absolute lowest rating in the entire history of presidential popularity polling, and who from all appearances could care less. However as he nears the blessed end of his highly delusional reign word is that he is finally becoming concerned with his legacy. It's about goddam time! Now it’s a damn shame he didn’t think about this when he needlessly invaded Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003. Or in the ensuing five years as our troops’ monthly losses have continued to pile up. Just like most of the rest of us W. seems to prefer waiting until the last minute to worry about his legacy, and now that it is finally creeping up on him he has evidently acquired a brand new fixation. It seems Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer enough, his newest crusade is to prevent Iran’s dabbling in nuclear weapons by militarily engaging Iran, thereby saving Israel and the free world from extinction. He views that as his legacy. Yes, you read that right. Two’s not enough, three’s company, right?

Well, not that he gives a tinker’s damn, but how would you grade the George W. Bush administration? Would you grade it high, in the middle, or down the tubes? And what one word would you pick that sums up the Bush legacy? My own personal grade of the Bush 7 years and counting would be less than one grade point out of ten. Maybe 50% of a point, 75% at best. And the one word I would choose to characterize the Bush years would be incompetence. Massive unrepentant incompetence. No matter what they tried, the war in Iraq, pursuing Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, or reacting to Hurricane Katrina, this administration has managed to consistently fail in truly spectacular fashion. In fact the only thing they have succeeded in doing is running up what is undoubtedly the largest debt in our nation’s history. In my eighty plus years of life I have yet to observe a government attempt to reach higher and fail more miserably than this one. Even Richard Nixon was able to attempt to somewhat balance his negatives with a level of competence that saw him through until the Watergate thing opened its toxic can of worms.

Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton over a small, personal moral failing (a failing which I strongly believe just about any breathing male of our species would fall prey to), but in the case of Bush there is a wealth of real impeachable material. Manipulation of intelligence reporting on Iraq weaponry, implying there were WMD where there were none, pulling the inspectors out of Iraq before they could ascertain that Iraq was indeed free of WMD (they didn’t want the inspectors to succeed in not finding WMD because they wanted to invade), the push to invade in spite of the United States long standing reluctance to invading a country that was of absolutely no threat to us, the stacking of the Justice Department with Bush political loyalists, the torture and mistreatment of prisoners of war ignoring the Geneva Conventions, and finally the hitherto unprecedented indifference to the suffering of our own American citizens who were the victims of the fury of Hurricane Katrina. The list is a long one, and these are true crimes and misdemeanors against our citizenry, but as we said the Democratic spine is lamentably weak. Unlike their Republican counterparts Democrats seem to have no stomach for the negatives of impeachment. However, as the curtain is pulled back on the remaining days of the administration of the Bush the late Molly Ivins liked to refer to as Shrub, one wonders whether Democrats should be ingesting some spine enhancing beverage. For there seems to be a dark cloud hovering over our immediate horizon.

In spite of the intelligence reports that Iran had quit pursuing atomic weaponry back in 2003, our dear, thrice blessed George W. seems to be currently fixated on Iran’s possible interest in the development of nuclear weapons. If you have the money rush right out and buy the current issue of The New Yorker magazine. If you don’t have the money you can google the article on your computer. It is essential reading, and pasting the URL below into your browser’s destination window will bring it to your waiting eyeballs:

According to author Seymour M. Hersch, “Bush and others in the White House view him (Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) as a potential Adolf Hitler,” a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

“One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

“This is much more than a nuclear issue,” one high-ranking diplomat told me in Vienna,” reports Hersch in the article. “That’s just a rallying point, and there is still time to fix it. But the Administration believes it cannot be fixed unless they control the hearts and minds of Iran. The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years.”

Also according to Hersch’s piece, “A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

OMG! What in god’s name are they smoking in the west wing? Does Bush really think his legacy is going to depend on his starting up of yet a third middle east conflagration? I wonder where he got that notion? It sounds like some of that wonderful old Karl Rove pipe dreaming shining forth. Could it be that because Rove managed to get Bush reelected in 2004 by the skin of his teefy-teeth-teeth, under the premise of the nation should not change horses midstream in a war, that Bush is still clinging to the fiction that war somehow strengthens his position? And therefore his legacy? Is it really true that because Americans are getting tired of the news from Iraq, that maybe they would respond more favorably to news of a brand new inferno across the border in Iran?

Would some denizen of the west wing please step forward and inform his most delusional excellency that his legacy is not hanging on the opening of yet another front in the middle east. Is our military is not stretched more than enough being engaged on two fronts? The fact is they are so stretched that they require civilians to drive their trucks and prepare their meals, and all of that of course at many times the expense of what those same services would be costing if the military was handling them for themselves.

Now you’re talking a corporate dream war. Taxpayers taxed to the utmost for the benefit of corporate America, and most particularly its military industrial complex. That’s a war made in Dick Cheney heaven. And now our soon (but alas not soon enough) to be erstwhile leader wants to broaden the fighting front. How does the thought of George W. Bush rescuing the middle east from Iranian nuclear weapons strike you? Does that thought make you rest easy, sleep well, and calm your nerves better than half a dozen valiums? Or what?
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Speaking of interesting revellations, guess where both the CIA and military inquisitors at Guantánamo Bay got those clever ideas for the unorthodox interrogation techniques which have subsequently brought the shame of much of the world upon our government? Methods that have long been considered torture by most of the civilized world, but which were just what the doctor ordered in the world of Bush/Cheney. Where did all of those hot ideas for prying information out of captives come from anyway? Well, the trainers who came to the base on the island of Cuba may or may not have known the origins of the techniques they taught. What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them later proving to be false, from American prisoners.

Isn’t that lovely? How proud must we be of those astute Bush/Cheneyites who managed to cop such neat interrogation ideas from such a truly historic source, Chinese Communist wartime interrogation techniques. After all they were time tested, right? By our own troops back in the Korean War? Positively ingenious! Makes us proud enough to bust a gut, don’t it? Well, somebody’s gut, anyway. Now that, my friends, is real leadership! Real Republican leadership!
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If our past is any indication presidential candidates who run against a running war have not fared at all well. In my lifetime the two cases which instantly come to mind are John F. Kennedy, who as president had discussed pulling our advisers out of Vietnam just before his assassination in Dallas, Texas. (Just five days after taking office Lyndon Johnson was persuaded to change the status of our involvement from employing advisors to full offensive participation, better known as out and out war.) Four years later John Kennedy’s younger brother Bobby, who had picked up Eugene McCarthy’s peace mantle and was running full speed ahead with it, was assassinated on the very night he won the Democratic primary race in California in what many feel was a real life case of the Manchurian Candidate syndrome.

What are we implying here? Just what Hillary Clinton was musing about when she was explaining why she was staying in the presidential race for longer than Barrack Obama supporters wished her too. She made reference to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, then backed off of it when people began to realize just what she was inferring. What she was inferring of course was that the prowar faction runs very deep in our national collective unconscious, and just as John F. and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated for their opposition of the Vietnam War, so someone among this anonymous group of gun worshippers might attempt to remove Obama from the presidential mix if he continues to come down so strongly on removing our troops from Iraq. But JFK and Bobby K. had Secret Service protection, didn’t they? They certainly did, for all the good it did them. And my friends, I hate to say this in print but an assassination attempt against Obama does loom as a distinct possibility. Perhaps this is why in the past day or two Senator Obama has softened his positions somewhat, explaining that he would not remove troops without first consulting with commanders in the field, and would certainly not do so if such a move would endanger the lives of the remaining troops.

Although people are beginning to tag Obama with the term “flip flopper” the truth is that John McCain has flipped flopped all over the place, making his “straight talk express” claims a mockery when contrasted to his 2000 bus talk. McCain has learned a telling lesson in the ensuing seven years. You cannot win the Republican nomination by talking straight to people, you have to fictionalize your offerings, telling each diverse Republican constituency what it wants to hear. Then once you secure the nomination you must reverse your far right course as much as you can by moving yourself towards the center where the bulk of the American people live. The same is roughly true for Obama and the left. Both men are moving front and center as fast as their would-be presidential legs will take them.

But make no mistake about it, those two centers are light years apart. If McCain is elected Bush’s misguided war in Iraq will go on in perpetuity. And if Bush manages to strike a blow in Iran before leaving office, you can bet McCain will happily see that one through to the bitter end also. And as for the economy, it will again be guided by the Republican rule of thumb, everything-for-the-wealthy (and as little as possible for the rest of us). And as for the Supreme Court, you can bet your sweet bippy (which is probably all you’ll have left) that under a McCain reign you will see the end of legalized abortion, with abortions once again relegated to back alleys.

Senator Obama’s campaign on the other hand sports a more progressive attitude. He will consult experts who in the spirit of Franklin D. Roosevelt will not be afraid to tinker with our nation’s economy to help it through its bumpy periods, and he will once again propagate the tax codes favorable to the middle classes and the poor, instead of continuing the Republican system which blesses benefits to the wealthy who have already proven their ability to do quite alright by themselves, without the government’s help, thank you very much. What is even more important, the Supreme Court will once again be substantially tilted to the center. No more close votes on important, life altering decisions.

What all of this boils down to is that in the Republican sense, the word conservative has come to mean every man for himself, with the federal government only interested in assisting those very wealthy and poweful in gaining even greater wealth. You could define it also with the word selfish. Contrast this with the canons the Democratic party which believes: in the spirit of community, and the use of the government where appropriate in helping the nation’s citizens in times of turmoil and trouble. Democrats aren’t immune to delving in foreign policy to the detriment of our domestic fare, but hopefully Obama will firmly entrench himself in the problems of the poor and middle classes in hope of assisting them in their times of need.
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I am the possessor of odd and mostly meaningless accomplishments. For instance, I once talked on the telephone with Harpo Marx (who played the part of a deaf mute his entire professional career) as I reported on in Blog #1. I also managed to field strip two fifty calliber machine guns while in the air in a Sperry Ball Turret during training in World War II (Blog #4). More recently I was probably one of the few to have played George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television on the radio. I was not the one at WBAI in New York who played it, which playing brought on the famous court trial. But some months later, after the lower court had upheld the station’s right to air the routine, (and before the Supreme Court was later to reverse the decision) I played the routine on my radio program Nightsong, heard on KPFT, Pacifica radio in Houston, between one and three am on a weeknight. Of course we got no complaints concerning the airing, which was perfectly legal free speech, it was the playing during daylight hours when children could hear it, which had brought on all the ire and vitriol.

At any rate I have just finished Nightsong #12, and had decided to call a halt until I get myself a website on which to make the programs available to the world, when what did I get the other day, but George Carlin’s record Class Clown, the disc that contained the historic bit. So much for quitting at twelve. I will be forced to make it a baker’s dozen, since I can’t resist reuniting Carlin’s historic routine with the new Nightsong podcasts. Incidentally, I got the idea and inspiration for Nightsong while living in New York City and listening to Alison Steele, the Nightbird on WNEW-FM. It was on her program that I first heard the haunting Tama, from the album TONTO’s Expanding Headband, which I took as Nightsong’s theme. This from her Wikipedia page: Alison didn't know much about progressive rock when she started at this, and neither, apparently did the management of WNEW-FM. She was basically left to her own devices and in this process, developed her persona, The Nightbird. She would start her show reciting poetry over Andean flute music, then introduce her show in her well-known sultry, smoky voice: “The flutter of wings, the shadow across the moon, the sounds of the night, as the Nightbird spreads her wings and soars, above the earth, into another level of comprehension, where we exist only to feel. Come, fly with me, Alison Steele, the Nightbird, at WNEW-FM, until dawn.” See what being sleepless in NYC can do for (to) you?
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"After three years of pursuing a home health aide in Brooklyn who has never even used a computer, the RIAA has announced it's ready to throw in the towel. Only thing; it wants the dismissal to be 'without prejudice' so it won't be liable for attorney's fees. The courts have been saying that where a copyright plaintiff gives up, the defendant is presumptively entitled to an attorney's fee award. So, Ms. Lindor says 'no way.' She wants the dismissal to be 'with prejudice,' and she wants her attorney's fees." Good for her, demanding compensation from the RIAA. It rankles me as until recently the RIAA didn’t even have to prove that anyone had ever downloaded a song, only that copyrighted material was in a so-called public folder where it could have been downloaded. When the courts finally got around to questioning this, the RIAA pleaded that it is way too difficult to prove anyone actually downloaded anything. Jammie Thomas, the mother of two who actually lost her case in the courts, whose story we reported on in Blog #10 (November 2007), was found guilty without the RIAA having to prove as much as one song was downloaded from her computer. Her case has not come up for appeal yet, but when it does hopefully the Appeals Court with reflect this new requirement for conviction.
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And there’s good news from the folks that have brought us Firefox #3. From the Mozilla Blog:

“The Firefox community is the proud new owner of a Guinness World Record — each and every one of you! Mozilla today received confirmation from Guinness World Records that we’ve officially achieved the record for the “largest number of software downloads in 24 hours.” From 18:16 UTC on June 17, 2008 to 18:16 UTC on June 18, 2008, 8,002,530 people downloaded Firefox 3!

“This is another wonderful accomplishment in a long line of them for our community! Ever since Firefox was launched in 2004 we’ve relied on our community to help us spread the word, and thanks to projects including crop circles, newspaper ads, giant stickers, videos, blogs and more we now have over 180 million users in more than 230 countries. Incredible work!”

Recent reports have indicated that Firefox is approaching 20% of active browsers.
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And finally news from the world of bit torrents. A report today over at TorrentFreak takes a look at the way that Google ranks Torrent sites and finds that Google’s information seems comparable to that reported by the sites themselves which hasn’t always been the case when looking at Alexa rankings for the sites. Using Google, it was determined that Mininova is the most popular Torrent site and The Pirate Bay comes in second. Rankings indicate that Torrentz and Isohunt compete closely for third place and then there are a handful of other torrent sites that also rank fairly high although the popularity of these sites varies between countries. The stats also indicate that Torrent sharing via all of these sites is on the rise.

News to feed the motion picture and the music industry's nightmares. And with that we call a halt to #43. We’re glad you came, and hope you’ll come back again next week. Meantime, so long now.

The Real Little Eddy