Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blog #81: Obama’s Impervious Cool

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Ode to a Press Conference

(Loosely to the tune of John Lennon’s A Day in the Life)

They had a press conference, oh boy!

The room was filled with press, with many questions asked,

Inquiring minds do want to know, and all were quite polite

‘Til Henry’s verbal swipe,

He aimed to pierce Presidential cool,

But it was not to be, Obama’s cool was Henry free,

They had a press conference, oh boy

(spoken) Ed Henry uncool, Barack Obama very cool.

The Press and the President

My how times have have changed since my childhood. I grew up during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration. Newspapers and movie newsreels of the time (there was no television back then) never showed the President in his wheelchair, or being helped to his feet to make a speech, or being helped back in his chair afterwards. And on the personal side no media back then ever hinted that FDR had a live-in mistress through much of his presidency, who would be with him on the day he died.

Fast forward to Gary Hart’s ill-fated run for the presidency. He made the ultimate gaffe; he challenged a tabloid newspaper in Florida to catch him in any hanky panky. And did they ever. They followed him from a distance when he was boating with a paramour, and pictures of the two of them appeared in the next day’s papers, thereby torpedoing Hart’s presidential ambitions. Too bad, too, I think he would have made a good president, sharp as a knife, and basically an honest realist. And he looked the part.

Exposing Hart’s indiscretions served as the crack in the dam, and subsequent years have in retrospect produced stories of dalliances on the part of such presidential legends as Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. But such lapses, if true, in no way seemed to have affected their respective presidencies. Both were probably operating from a position of relative fulfillment, and thereby were alert and stable.

Of course, Republicans had a field day with the Bill Clinton presidency. Their hired gun, Kenneth Starr, dug very deep into every closet in the Clinton past, desperate to find something he could use against the President, and he finally succeeded only in charging Clinton with receiving oral sex from an intern who was of age, and who, by the way, had bragged to a friend before she came to Washington that she intended to earn her Presidential knee pads. So who set up who?

Clinton made the mistake of trying to deny the tryst which enabled Starr and the House Republican leaders to bring charges of impeachment for lying about the affair. Republicans brought the charges in the House, but fortunately for our nation the Senate had a higher mark for impeachment than did the House and Clinton went on to finish his term, leaving office and our economy with a healthy surplus, not a deficit. After slithering into office by way of a Supreme Court fiat, Republican George W. Bush gleefully jumped into the fray, doubling the national debt in his eight year tenure, spending more money in that time than all of the presidents who had preceded him combined.

In the recent presidential campaign Fox News successfully transitioned the spirit of tabloid newspapers to television news, thereby taking the slanting of the news to a new, grander level. In spite of their large audience, thankfully their attempts to color their news reports with their conservative views were not widely successful, as relatively few voters seemed to be converted to their point of view, and President Obama had a comfortable win. However, the Fox malaise seems to be contagious. Ed Henry, covering the President’s news conference for CNN last Tuesday evening, had a Fox News moment as in a completely disjointed way he attempted to cut through President Obama’s aura of cool. Henry:

“Thank you, Mr. President. You spoke again at the top about your anger about AIG. You’ve been saying that for days now. But why is it that it seems Andrew Cuomo seems to be, in New York, getting more actual action on it? And when you and Secretary Geithner first learned about this, 10 days, two weeks ago, you didn’t go public immediately with that outrage. You waited a few days, and then you went public after you realized Secretary Geithner really had no legal avenue to stop it.”

The Daily Beast said of that question, “This is a presidency defined by cable news food-fights and Maureen Dowd-style armchair psychoanalysis.” Henry further asked:

”And more broadly — I just want to follow up on Chip [Reid] and Jake [Tapper] — you’ve been very critical of President Bush doubling the national debt. And to be fair, it’s not just Republicans hitting you. Democrat Kent Conrad, as you know, said, quote, “When I look at this budget, I see the debt doubling again.” You keep saying that you’ve inherited a big fiscal mess. Do you worry, though, that your daughters, not to mention the next president, will be inheriting an even bigger fiscal mess if the spending goes out of control?”

Eric Alterman, a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College and a professor of journalism at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism wrote a compelling review of Obama’s news conference and Henry’s attempt to ruffle the President’s feathers in Wednesday’s Beast. He is the author, most recently, of Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Important Ideals. Mr. Alterman writes:

Note both Henry’s tone and content. First off, the question has no relationship to substance. Instead it’s about

a) An alleged political horserace between Andrew Cuomo and Obama that, as far as I can tell, does not exist

b) Why Obama “waited a few days” before “go[ing] public with that outrage?”

c) And following up on his bros “Chip and Jake,” he wants to know, why isn’t Obama’s budget enjoying universal praise, as “it’s not just Republicans hitting” him, but a conservative Democrat is as well.

Obama tried to explain the relationship between the priorities of his budget and the recovery he predicts, as well as the eventual reduction in the deficit he both inherited and will be increasing. But because Obama, unlike George W. Bush, decided to allow follow-up questions, which vastly reduces the ability to dodge questions he does not like, Henry was able to focus again, laser-like, on the president’s refusal to act out about AIG as quickly as Henry would have liked, and again raised the so-far nonexistent Cuomo vs. Obama contest:

“So on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage?” and goading him again, into a contest with Cuomo by using that most favored of journalistic weasel words, “seems.” (As Hamlet should have taught us, the word “seems” is a license to make shit up. “Seems madam?” he says to his lying mother, “Nay it is. I know not seems.”)

“It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long?”

President Obama’s answer: “Well, it took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

Touchè! CNN would like to think of itself as the News Channel of Record, much as the NY Times is looked upon as the newspaper of record. However, it is my feeling that Ed Henry’s grandstanding attempt to ruffle the President’s feathers and thereby establish himself as a player in the reportorial world of Washington correspondents, does not reflect well on CNN’s ambitions to be that channel of record. Reporters are supposed to report the news, not make it. If his questions had been rapier sharp, and right on the point, that might have been one thing. However his questions seemed disjointed, and were delivered self-consciously, as if a part of him was having well deserved second thoughts.

One wonders what his true motivation was, does he really hold that much animosity towards the President. If so he should ask for a change of assignment, because somehow I think his days of getting very much real news out of the White House have passed. If his motive was to project himself as a tough questioning journalist in the Sam Donaldson, Tim Russert mold, then I hate to disillusion Mr. Henry but he’s no Tim Russert. To many of us his questions seemed like a cheap shot, more typical of a Fox News correspondent than one from the News Channel of Record. Mr. Alterman’s full piece may be found here!

And for those of you unfortunate enough to have missed the presidential news conference, and Ed Henry’s attempt to fluster the President’s cool, you’re in for a real treat. Thanks to The Daily Beast, we can offer you a video of Henry’s moment in the sun. Just click on the arrow below and you can judge it for yourself.

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Our Truly Remarkable Age

What a remarkable age this is to live in. Time is finally under our control. At least in terms of time shifting many television programs. Thanks to the inventions first of the VHS, then the invention and evolvement of TiVo, and now the internet, suddenly we have been freed from the tyranny of the television clock. What I mean is that we are free to miss an important tv program that we really ought to see as we can either record it or catch it later via the internet. I have in mind the interview with President Obama that 60 Minutes aired last Sunday. You know me, I was probably watching NBA basketball and/or trolling for graphics instead of dutifully turning my television on to catch 60 Minutes last Sunday evening. Who keeps track of television programs these days, anyway?

Never you mind. I’ll google the speech. Which I did, and I found the interview in its entirety. It was the complete program, including a second story on a very talented mentally ill musician who was living on the streets of Los Angeles. The interview with the President was an extremely interesting one, I felt. Nothing world shaking in it, but President Obama is a pleasure to see and listen to. And the best thing about the entire experience is that CBS allows you to embed the video which you can then place on your blog. Which means that if you dear reader did not get a chance to watch the interview when it first came around, or if you wish to partake of it again (and it would be well worth your time to do so), it is right here for your viewing:

Watch CBS Videos Online
Watch CBS Videos Online

While we’re in our Obama phase we thought you might enjoy seeing this photograph of the real Obama Girls. All three of them.

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Pirates to the Rescue

How about them Swedes. Movies are big business and the Hollywood studios are putting all kind of pressure on governments and ISP’s throughout the U.S. and Europe to sniff out and punish file sharers. But like those Saturday morning movies we used to go to as kids, trumpets are sounding and pirates are riding to the rescue. Pirates? Riding to the rescue? Yes, it’s absolutely true, riding their galleons to our rescue would be the pirates of The Pirate Bay.

One of the really unique qualities of the web is how it tends to bring out the inborn collector in us all. Just about everything you could possibly wish to see or hear is out there somewhere just waiting for you to download and add to your collection. And thanks to the magic of search engines and bit torrent, obtaining a movie, record album, or book is as easy as pointing and clicking. It costs you nothing but the ISP fee you’re paying anyway.

It does take a certain amount of patience however, some things like a season of television’s longest running program, Saturday Night Live, may take a week or more to download, but when it happens you have an entire season of programs on your hard drive, and the downloading takes place entirely in the background. You can use your computer for other tasks without any appreciable slowdown or sluggishness. Movies might take several days. But now that my provider Comcast is no longer messing around with torrent streams, the average music album downloads in hours rather than days.

However, the paid content guys are trying their damndest to catch us. The music industry has finally given up its insane program of suing college students, and has joined with the movie industry in trying to persuade governments and ISP’s to sniff out file sharers and punish them. In Sweden, the home of the pirates of the bay, comes news of a new law meant to curb file sharing. From TorrentFreak:

For those who like to share files, one country set to introduce an extremely unpalatable law is Sweden. Due to come into force in just over a week, the controversial Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) legislation will make it easier for copyright holders to get their hands on the personal details of suspected illicit file-sharers.

But not if the crew of The Pirate Bay has anything to do with it.

Timed to coincide with the introduction of IPRED on April 1st 2009, a brand new service designed to neutralize the effects of the law will be launched. Dubbed ‘IPREDATOR’, this brand new anonymity service from the Pirate Bay promises to make subscribers “more anonymous” than when using traditional VPN services.

Peter Sunde, aka brokep, told TorrentFreak that the service is currently in beta and will be slowly opened to around 500 users. When those users are experiencing the service bug-free, it will be opened up to everyone.

Let’s hear it for them pirates. Here is how the process worked for me this week. I was on The Daily Beast, viewing some videos of Japanese commercials that Hollywood personalities had filmed. One of them featured Brad Pitt dressed in an all yellow outfit, and playing out a scene taken directly from Jacques Tati’s incomparable French comedy, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.

That got my blood churning, this black and white movie of the 1950’s was in direct line of the Classic silent movies of Charlie Chaplin. There was sound in the movie, but dialogue was sparse and inconsequential, the movie was one of the most visual of comedies I have ever seen. In my mind M. Hulot’s Holiday was pure comedy in its essence, and it puts its filmaker, star, Jacques Tati, in the exalted company of the masters, Chaplin and Ernie Kovacs, who developed visual comedy for black and white television. To me Mr. Hulot’s Holiday was the funniest single film I have ever seen. I saw it many times myself, and took my sons to see it as well.

Well, I reflected for not much over a minute before I opened Camino, which along with Safari is my web browser of choice, and went to Mininova, where I did a search for Mr. Hulot’s Holiday. One torrent came up. Score! I immediately started downloading it. I believe I have the movie somewhere on VHS, but who watches VHS tapes anymore. Anyway there are 6(26) seeds and 2(48) peers. (The more seeds the better, I’m told.) The film is 1.08 gigabyte in length.

Hollywood studios go ballistic over the thought of people downloading their precious movies over bit torrent. But listen, most people will buy a DVD if one is available, and if it is reasonably priced. And in the case of Mr. Hulot, I decided to google Tati, and came up with some interesting information on his Wikipedia page. From Wikipedia:

Tati films have little audible dialogue, but instead are built around elaborate, tightly-choreographed visual gags and carefully integrated sound effects. In all but his very last film, Tati plays the lead character, who - with the exception of his first and last films - is the gauche and socially inept Monsieur Hulot. With his trademark raincoat, umbrella and pipe, Hulot is among the most memorable comic characters in cinema. There exist several recurrent themes in Tati's comedic work, most notably in Mon Oncle, Playtime and Trafic: they include Western society's obsession with material goods, particularly American-style consumerism, the pressure-cooker environment of modern society, the superficiality of relationships among France's various social classes, and the cold and often impractical nature of space-age technology and design.

His second film, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, was released in 1953. Les Vacances introduced the character of M. Hulot and follows his adventures in France during the mandatory August vacation at a beach resort, lampooning several hidebound elements of French political and social classes along the way. The film was widely praised by critics, and earned Tati an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay which was shared with Henri Marquet.

Tati was born October 9 1907 and sadly left us November 5 1982. So my downloading Mr. Hulot has not deprived the man of any money, unlike if I had downloaded some current hit. However even downloads of current movies does not necessarily deprive film makers of money if the downloader wasn’t going to buy the DVD anyway. (Take that you packet sniffing studio dogs!)

An hour after my download began only 1.8% of it has come down (only 98.2% to go), which means it’s patience time, I’m probably a week away from having the movie in my drive. Speaking of drive, when it’s complete I’ll move it off of my iMac, and onto my 500 gigabyte extra drive. And when it finally gets here, reconnecting with that film will surely make my day. UPDATE: The magic words “Download Complete” rang out from my computer late Thursday evening. I’m going to view it first thing Saturday after I upload this blog.

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Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Who would you say was the luckiest man in the world? We would cast our vote for the Japenese gentleman pictured above. He is 93 years old, his name is Tsutomu Yamaguchi, and his accomplishment: surviving both atomic bomb detonations, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Story from the Guardian Co., UK:

A 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person to be certified as a survivor of both US atomic bombings at the end of the second world war, officials said today.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified "hibakusha," or radiation survivor, of the 9 August 1945 atomic bombing in Nagasaki. Now it has been confirmed that he also survived the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on 6 August 1945 when a US B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki.

"As far as we know, he is the first one to be officially recognised as a survivor of atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki," said Nagasaki city official Toshiro Miyamoto. "It's such an unfortunate case, but it is possible that there are more people like him.

It is difficult to imagine anyone surviving one atomic blast, much less two. As we googled Hiroshima we came across a description of the effects of the bombing of Hiroshima which is posted on a site hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

On the ground moments before the blast it was a calm and sunny Monday morning. An air raid alert from earlier that morning had been called off after only a solitary aircraft was seen (the weather plane), and by 8:15 the city was alive with activity – soldiers doing their morning calisthenics, commuters on foot or on bicycles, groups of women and children working outside to clear firebreaks. Those closest to the explosion died instantly, victims of atomic attack with the pattern of her clothing burned into her back. their bodies turned to black char. Nearby birds burst into flames in mid-air, and dry, combustible materials such as paper instantly ignited as far away as 6,400 feet from ground zero. The white light acted as a giant flashbulb, burning the dark patterns of clothing onto skin (right) and the shadows of bodies onto walls. Survivors outdoors close to the blast generally describe a literally blinding light combined with a sudden and overwhelming wave of heat. (The effects of radiation are usually not immediately apparent.) The blast wave followed almost instantly for those close-in, often knocking them from their feet. Those that were indoors were usually spared the flash burns, but flying glass from broken windows filled most rooms, and all but the very strongest structures collapsed. One boy was blown through the windows of his house and across the street as the house collapsed behind him. Within minutes 9 out of 10 people half a mile or less from ground zero were dead.

The above excerpt of the Enola Gay’s day is from a piece called The Manhattan Project, An Interactive History. Reading it will make indelibly clear that if it is possible to put one Genie back into the bottle, this would be the one to put back in. The paper makes a fascinating read, and may be found here!

It is a grisly account to be sure, but the fact remains that it was the United States which set that bomb off not once, but twice, and according to data later uncovered the Japanese were on the verge of surrendering after the fire bombings of Tokyo’s factories, and DOD had to rush the atomic tests forward as it would be the only opportunity to actually test the effects of this new, untried weapon under field conditions. To try to justify our use of the bomb to our own people President Truman used the excuse of trying to end the war sooner. OSS members who spoke Japanese (OSS was the precursor of the CIA) were brought near to Japan so they could be rushed in after the bombings and gauge their effectiveness.

In closing, the world has known only two atomic bomb explosions, and we, the United States, dropped both of them. Albert Einstein, upon whose theory the bomb was created, and who was among a number of scientists urging its development because it was believed Germany might have been working on one, at one point realized the terrible possibility of the bomb’s misuse by politicians and military, and he spent his later years fervently campaigning against its use, and for his concern he was vilified far and wide as a leftist pinko. Fortunately for the human race, to date only the U.S has used the bomb.

This is a test. This is only a test.”

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On that somber note we have calmly run this week’s blog aground. As our parting shot let us sling an arrow at the food fighting Creationists in Austin, Tx., trying to monkey with scientific education by casting aspersions on Darwin’s theory of evolution. Knuckleheads, if we weren’t related to other species of animals then testing drugs on them would be a colossal waste of time. However the real imposition is these people of so-called faith trying to force their unprovable beliefs on the school children of Texas. Separation of church and state – it’s in the constitution folks. Down creationists!

We expect the good ship EddyBlog to regain floatation at next Saturday morning’s high tide, at which time we’ll once again take pokes at all of our favorite straw men. We hope you’ll come back for the party. Meantime, thanks for coming by this week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Blog #80: the 83 Birthday Blog

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Smashing a Presidential Tradition

President Barack Obama broke his way out of the bubble Thursday night and became the first sitting president to appear on a late night talk show with an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Hopeful presidential candidates appear by the dozens, but a sitting president, never. Until Thursday night.

Leno remarked that he hopes his civics teacher was watching. By his appearance Obama proved that he is funny, personable and extremely likable. He also showed a grasp of the current culture by comparing Washington with American Idol. “Everybody is Simon Cowell, everybody has an opinion.”

It is certainly refreshing to have a president who is a warm, affable human being, as well as a brilliant leader and orator. A man who exudes confidence. We haven’t had that in awhile. Well, since Bill Clinton, anyway. We just wonder how green David Letterman turned in his own Green Room.

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A Stark Lesson in Injustice

photo from The Daily Beast

Next we have a story for the ages. It concerns two 17 year olds, caught having sex with their 14 year old girl and boy friends respectively. The story, by Constantino Diaz-Duran, was published in Thursday’s Daily Beast. It brings to the forefront what we feel is a pressing quandary for our time. From Diaz-Duran’s piece:

Alan Jepsen was playing videogames at his home in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, when the cops came knocking on his door. He was handcuffed in front of his sister and thrown in jail. In the words of his attorney, Jeffrey Purnell, “This child, this 17-year-old high-school kid, had to spend a week in jail — they locked him up and they put him in jail with grown-ups. His crime: Having sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend. And, perhaps, being a boy.

The day after Alan's arrest, Sheboygan authorities arrested Norma Guthrie, also 17, for having sex with her 14-year-old boyfriend. Norma, however, did not have to spend a single day in jail. She was released immediately on signature bond, while Alan was held on a $1,000 cash bond, which his family could not afford. Sheboygan County Assistant District Attorney Jim Haasch is handling both cases.

The disparity in the punishment of these 17-year-olds, both accused of having sex with the 14-year-olds they were dating, goes much deeper. Haasch charged Alan with a Class C felony, which, according to court records obtained by The Daily Beast, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Norma, on the other hand, was charged only with a misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail, after having been released immediately on signature bond.

Absurd! You betcha! Most puzzling of all, both 17 year olds are from the same city, and have been charged by the same District Attorney. Is this that always fair D.A. that was portrayed on the radio show Mr. District Attorney that I grew up listening to, and who would go to great lengths to fight for justice, no matter how long it took. (On the radio it always took a one half hour episode.) Is it justice to jail one of the 17 year olds, charging him with a Class C felony which can carry a maximum penalty of up to 40 years in prison, while giving the other, the girl, a misdemeanor charge which at most puts her in jail for nine months? Same crime, only the sex of the 17 year olds was different.

Well, folks that radio D.A. guy was pure unadulterated myth, not a word of truth in that entire series. A real DA takes to his job like that dreadful Nancy Grace zeros in on offenders on Headline News. Real D.A.’s never question the justice of a situation, they only approach each case for its legal possibilities for conviction, and for what taking the case might mean for their legal careers.

A truly enlightened society does not allow self-aggrandizing politicians to make something as sweet and natural as sex a crime, to be punished by mindless District Attorneys blinded by personal ambition. Perhaps some punishments should be devised for youngsters who try to push the envelope at too early an age, and particularly those who might be a little too forceful in their pursuits. But not a punishment which will ruin their young lives, certainly not 40 years in an adult prison.

Since the beginnings of the human race children have experimented with sex on their own timetable, a timetable triggered by mother nature, not one conceived and put into law by would be controlling politicians. The studies of Margaret Meade confirm that this curiosity has also been with our more primitive cousins since the beginnings of the human race. And a truly honest look back at one’s own growing up will likely further attest to it’s truth. Think about it. I’m not sure what any of us can really do about it, but we should certainly take note of it. And if you live in Sheboygan you might give County Assistant D.A. Jim Haasch a call. For more on this story go here!

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A.I.G. Executives Sucking the Taxpayer’s Tit!

Senator Charles Grassley

Anger at the executives at the downtrodden insurance company A.I.G. is swirling around the country faster than a firestorm on wings of a Tsunami. But Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, takes the honor of most succinctly crystalizing our anger. First, in an interview with Cedar Rapids radio station WMT on Monday he said, "I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed. But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they'd follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say 'I'm sorry,' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology."

Well, you can well imagine the nation’s reaction to that. It was met with cheers, but hey, suicide is illegal and a sin, isn’t it? And so of course Sen. Grassley had no choice but to come back the next day and say that he didn’t really mean suicide, just a small amount of contrition would do just fine, thank you. "From my standpoint, it's irresponsible for corporations to give bonuses at this time when they're sucking the tit of the taxpayer.” He continued to express his displeasure with the company that is distributing $165 million in bonuses over lawmakers' objections. He said executives should not be rewarded for running their corporation into the ground.

"It would make me feel a lot better if our corporate structure would adopt that culture from Japan for the reason that I have not heard anybody apologize for running the corporation ... into the ground, and AIG's just one example of it," Grassley said. He said he's made that point a number of times and, "I don't know why it caught on yesterday."

More information on Senator Grassley’s comments may be found here! And also here! However, as always there is a second side to the story, one that you are not likely to come across with all the raging hysteria, unless you keep yourself informed by sources such as the Washington Post. The Post actually carried the AIG excutives side of the story, and it is indeed compelling. You can find it here!

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The State of What Union?

Cheney – The Ultimate Dick

Last Sunday morning on the latest CNN show to crib its name from a Washington based national political tradition, the State of the Union, in our opinion host John King wasted a great deal of his time with his first change of the guard interview with former vice president Dick Cheney. To say that Mr. Cheney was adamant in his “we did nothing wrong” stance would be putting it mildly. However, Mr. Cheney, a product of maturation during the Nixon, Ford, and various Bush administrations, obviously has his rear view mirror seriously tainted with rose tinted glasses.

In our view Cheney’s most outrageous charge was that in his view the American people are less safe from terrorists under President Obama than under Bush/Cheney. Can you believe, this person who was so intimately involved in the changing of our national policy from one of Liberty and Justice to All to one which violates the Geneva accords against torture and cruelty to our fellow human beings, and he is trying to imply that it has been these warped policies which have kept we Americans safe during these post 9/11 years? It was interesting that within minutes of Cheney’s fantasy reminiscences a Red Cross report in which America’s elite prisoners’ themselves described the measures of torture used against them was leaked to the media.

It is absolutely true that we Americans take our fear very seriously, so seriously that when an atrocity like 9/11 is inflicted upon us, we take on some very unAmerican characteristics in our desperate attempts in self protection. But at heart, we don’t want to appear to the world as bullies and torturers, even to those who we think have done us the ultimate wrong. At least most of us don’t.

One reason for this being dangerous is because there is a religion involved, and there are clerics who in reacting against those punitive characteristics of ours are thereby swelling the ranks of those who would do us harm. And whereas the Saudi king is in bed with various Bush family members, something like 18 of the 21 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. And what Mr. Cheney and the others who support the Bush policies of torture and the “lock them up forever and throw away the key” syndrome, are saying is that we are dealing with people who don’t count as people. And since you cannot try them without disclosing the treatment they went through to elicit their confessions, and since no American jury is likely to convict people who have been tortured into confessing, then you simply, and illegally, hold onto them forever.

And in a case of subterfuge you keep them in a lockup completely out of the United States borders. Of course such an outcome is against the very foundations upon which our legal system is built. And even a basically conservative court like our Supremes will sooner or later strike down such decidedly unAmerican procedures. At least we can hope so, and several recent rulings have indicated such an outcome might be in our future.

And a reminder that such treatment which is now known to the world in spite of the Bush regime’s best efforts to keep the lid on it, makes it a recruiting tool par excellence for those who would plot and recruit against us. Whereas it is perfectly true that there have been no attacks on American soil since 9/11, there are many reasons for this, the most obvious ones being attacks on Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. However President Barack Obama has taken the far more moderate and logical position that the less we fire up our enemies, the better chance we will have of keeping them out of our back yard.

We Americans have a very bad habit of assuming that our valuations of foreign movements are one hundred percent correct, when frequently they are completely out of the ballpark. Vietnam comes to mind. Ho Chi Minh and his movement for a Vietnam independent of French rule was a wholly understandable and laudable ambition (after all we broke from our Colonial masters and as a people we have never looked back) but America’s rulers used the fact that the Vietnamese movement was Communist in nature to rally against it and take up the cause where the French left off. We took the Dulles (John Foster, Secretary of State under Eisenhower, and Allen, head of the C.I.A.) brothers “domino theory” as gospel. It said if one Far Eastern nation fell to Communism then the others would fall like dominoes. But the domino theory proved to be wrong, every bit as wrong as those reports of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons were to be later on. Communism won in the end in Vietnam, and all of the east did not fall in kind. And the mother ship, the Soviet Union, was itself to break apart after not too long a time had passed.

For additional information on the conditions that brought in the U.S. participation in Vietnam we offer the following from Wikipedia.

Ho Chi Minh the Fierce

After the war, the Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, made a provisional division of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, and the south becoming the State of Vietnam under Emperor Bảo Đại. A year later, Bảo Đại would be deposed by his prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, creating the Republic of Vietnam. Diem's refusal to enter into negotiations with North Vietnam about holding nationwide elections in 1956, as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference, would eventually lead to war breaking out again in South Vietnam in 1959 - the Second Indochina War

The Geneva Accords promised elections in 1956 to determine a national government for a united Vietnam. However, the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to sign the document. From his home in France, Emperor Bảo Đại appointed Ngô Ðình Diệm as Prime Minister of South Vietnam. With American support, in 1955 Diệm used a referendum to remove the former Emperor and declare himself the president of the Republic of Vietnam.

When the elections were prevented from happening by the Americans and the South, Việt Minh cadres who stayed behind in South Vietnam were activated and started to fight the government. North Vietnam also invaded and occupied portions of Laos to assist in supplying the guerilla fighting National Liberation Front in South Vietnam. The war gradually escalated into the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam War in the West and the American War in Vietnam.

So much for the political acumen of our political leaders. After the Tet Offensive which made clear to most astute Americans that we were not wanted there, General Ky was showing several influential visiting Congressmen around Saigon, flitting from place to place in heavily armored vehicles, with overwhelming security at each stopover. Ky reportedly apologized to the Congressmen, lamenting the fact that it just wasn’t fair. In the south they had to travel around with such a high level of protection while to the north Ho Chi Minh, wearing his sandals made from rubber taken from the tires of downed American airplanes, could walk around freely with not a bodyguard in sight.

What General Ky didn’t say was that Ho Chi Minh was protected by the love of his people. For Uncle Ho, as they affectionately called him, had worked much of his life trying to free his people from the yoke that was French Colonialism. The devotion of the Vietnamese people to Ho Chi Minh was comparable to the love of the people of India for Mahatma Ghandi, who had devoted his life to the freeing of the people of India, and in which process he had invented the tactic of nonviolent confrontation. However, in the United States we were not told this. The rise of communism in Russia and the threat of it in the Far East had struck fear deep in the heart of capitalist America, and we painted Uncle Ho as a pariah. President Dwight Eisenhower admitted towards the end of his term that the reason the American government had not allowed the election to unite Vietnam that had been called for in the peace treaty to be held was that 80% of the population would have voted for Uncle Ho. So much for our claims of supporting democracy.

And so you can see that Iraq certainly wasn’t the first major mistake by leaders with high ideals but absolutely no sense as to what is really going on. We were well versed in turning fantasy into fact from both the Korean and Vietnam skirmishes so that by the time Iraq came around we were experts. And I’m afraid those wars probably won’t be the last. But keeping ourselves free of war and pestilence is going to take careful monitoring by the American electorate, and we must be careful not to fall for politicians with global ambitions. I think Barack Obama, and the team he has put around him, is a gigantic step in the right direction. It is 2012 and most especially 2016 that we have to worry about.

And as for Mr. Cheney’s motivation, likely it is to add what he feels is a Republican stamp of approval to the Rush Limbaugh claim of branding the Obama administration as failure. And as to his crediting the lack of attacks since 9/11 to Bush administration (his) criminal policies, Mr. Cheney is possibly positioning himself against any subsequent charges of war crimes which might well come sometime down the pike. Not that there is any disposition towards that in the Obama administration, but it is we, the United States, that brought and prosecuted Nazi Germany’s elite for war crimes after World War II. And considering everything that has happened in our own run up to the invasion of Iraq, the erroneous and outright false intelligence, the massive attempt on the part of Bush/Cheney to combine fact with fiction, and stamping every utterance with anti Hussein rhetoric, and finally the arbitrary invasion of a country that had done doing nothing to us at the time, if there was truly justice in this world, at the very least hearings on these matters should be held for the world’s consideration. Let’s just not hold our breaths.

For more complete coverage of the King-Cheney interview go here! And further information on the leaked Red Cross report may be found by pointing your cursor here!

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Politics in a Nutshell

The American political situation has been likened to a gigantic pendulum which swings to the left during some years, and to the right during others. That description is all well and good, except that by making the word liberal synonymous with left wing, socialism and even communism, Republicans for years have caused our American pendulum to hardly swing left of center at all. And it swung far to the right during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, for during many of those years Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, and the Republican party was enshrining Ronald Reagan’s motto that “the trouble with the country couldn’t be fixed by the federal government – for the federal government was the problem.” They addressed this so-called problem by staffing the federal government with incompetents, as all the while they were gleefully stripping industry and banking of as many regulations as they were able to get away with. Regulations which had been put into play only after painful excesses had required them in previous years.

It is not really talked about in this country, but there was a deliberate effort by the corporate community to shift Americans to the political right. It began in the wake of World War II, when the major radio networks hastily shifted their radio commentators to new time slots, preparatory to casting them adrift. The most trusted voices of the times, John W. Vandercook, Robert St. John, H. V. Kaltenborn, even the esteemed William L. Shirer, these voices which had helped see Americans through the rigors of World War II, were subsequently put out to pasture, as the networks looked for a less liberal bias in their news organizations. Only the venerable Edward R. Murrow, noted for his reports from London during World War II, was able to survive this changing of the reportorial guard. And the nation reflected this political shift in its choice of presidents, beginning with that of Dwight Eisenhower who of course governed from the right. John F. Kennedy swung the pendulum somewhat to the center, and after his assassination LBJ followed through on Civil Rights legislation which began the process of giving all of our citizens the right to vote, and eventually, to strive for equality.

But the pendulum was never allowed to take it’s normal swing to the left during these time because of Republican efforts to equate “liberal” with socialism, communism, tax and spend Democrats, and bad breath. And so Presidents Carter and Clinton, were cozying up to the center, rather than riding the pendulum on its leftward swing.

The economic meltdown we are currently experiencing is a direct result of eight years of Republican misrule, six of which saw them controlling both houses of Congress as well as the presidency. And how quaint it is that the only Republican suggestions so far for recovery is “tax cuts.” And keep in mind they mean tax cuts for the wealthy, of course, for they pooh poohed Obama’s stated intent to bring tax cuts to the rest of us. Republicans have been chanting tax cuts ad nauseam since the 1980’s during which time they were fighting wars off the books and spending on credit like there is no tomorrow. However, let us give the Super Spender his due, during his eight years in office President George W. Bush has gone through more money than all of his predecessors combined. Under his watch the national debt has doubled. So much for Republican solutions to the problems they made happen, solutions that in the real world aren’t worth a tub of warm spit.

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No Rush to Judgement!

Rush’s Slice of the Pie

Well, what do you know? CBS News has been out there taking polls on what you and I think, as if that was going to open the portals to truth and world peace. And in taking their poll they made note of the fact that the White House casting of Rush Limbaugh as the new head of the Republican Party may not be so far off the mark after all. According to a brand new CBS News poll every conservative’s favorite radio talk show host has a favorable rating which stands at l9%, and which is a full 43 points below President Obama’s rating. So spout on, Rush. The world is waiting with baited breath for your guidance and direction. NOT!!!

Limbaugh’s unfavorable rating is double his favorable one, standing at 40 percent, while the other 41 percent say they don’t know or don’t have an opinion. It is not a surprise that the conservative commentator, who has said he hopes that our president’s economic policies fail, is far more popular with Republicans – 47 percent view him favorably – than with Democrats, just seven percent of whom view him favorably.

By linking Republicans to Limbaugh and his kind the Obama administration can foresee many more years of clear sailing, as it tries to tack to the treacherous winds of Republican ruffled waters. The sailing will not be easy, as a media striving to present both sides of a story repeatedly puts pundits of the right on their television screens. But if only we American people can muster up a little patience, a truly gifted leader with abounding intelligence and infinite skills is going to be in a position to take us most anywhere. And I expect it to be a ride that we won’t soon forget.

However you don’t need to take our word for Rush Limbaugh’s slice of the pie. The full story on Rush’s ratings may be found here!

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As Uncle Pan mulls over a return to the writing of erotic literature, the following appeared in his g-mail box: Anonymous to me: In the Park, the story of the little girl who had pictures taken by a waterfall by a much older man was one of the best I have ever read. It was
sensitive yet sexual without being vulgar even though the girl was only 11. I would give my left arm to find a young girl like her. I wish that
there were more stories of this nature for our reading pleasure. By the way - You Do Good Work!!!

Clicking Away. and some of Uncle Pan’s other stories, may be found here! A more complete collection may be found at where a paid membership is required.

And so we mull on. And so this week’s rant winds its way into the sunset, or into the dawn depending on what time you happen to be reading this. Somehow we thought these topics, and our take on them, might tweak your interest, and if we succeeded we invite you to join us again next week, same URL. We post on Saturday mornings.

Bye now, and join me in wishing Little Eddy a happy 83rd birthday. It happened yesterday, March 20, the first day of spring. No candles please, his lungs aren’t quite up to blowing out 83 of them. But diabetes or no diabetes he can take care of that cake.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Blog #79:A Titanic of a Tanking

Ode to Nov. 4, 2008!

Graphic found on

This week has been a telling one. The man who has inadvertently put his face upon our nation’s disastrous fiscal situation, Bernard L. Madoff, finally traded his Get Out of Jail card for guilty pleas, and entered the prison system where he will undoubtedly spend the rest of his life. The man who has been operating what is believed to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history, pleaded guilty to all of the charges which had been filed against him. But his case is remarkably in sync with the nation’s economy generally. Imagine a country whose economy is tanking so bad that the bartender who inspired the television show Cheers is being laid off after working there for thirty-five years. Sad but true. Eddie Doyle, the Sam Malone of the real life Boston bar Cheers, he who made a career out of knowing everybody’s name, now finds himself out of a job and a future of not ever having to know a name again.

Doyle recently reminisced about the show. “At the height of the show’s popularity, 3,000 people would pass through the bar daily, and 5,000 on weekends,” he said. The traffic kept him hopping and filled his pockets. But he recalled that many of the regulars who didn’t appreciate the new found crush of people wandered off to new haunts. It didn’t matter much to Doyle, who used the bar’s fame to start a charity auction.

Doyle said he doesn’t know what’s next for him, but added he’s grateful to be at an age where he can take his time and think about things. His boss is paying him until the end of the year, but his last day at Cheers will come at a going-away party later this month.

He’ll be leaving a place best known for the fiction it inspired, perhaps, but he noted that the place was actually a lot like the tv show, despite their sometimes goofy plots. The interactions between characters reminds Doyle of what the real Cheers was: “a bunch of eccentrics that could get together and become friends.”

“When it came down to the end, I said, you know, they actually hit it right on the head.”

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”It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.” Well, so the famous Beatles’ song goes, but what we are celebrating on this March 13 was a little bit bigger than a band, actually. It’s the entire goddamn internet. For it was 20 years ago today, March 13, 1989, that an English gentleman named Tim Berners-Lee authored "Information Management: A proposal," a document which set the technology world on fire?

Back in 1989, Berners-Lee was a software consultant working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research outside of Geneva, Switzerland. On March 13 of that year, he submitted a plan to management on how to better monitor the flow of research at the labs. People were coming and going at such a clip that an increasingly frustrated Berners-Lee complained that CERN was losing track of valuable project information because of the rapid turnover of personnel. It did not help matters that the place was chockablock with incompatible computers people brought with them to the office.

"When two years is a typical length of stay, information is constantly being lost. The introduction of the new people demands a fair amount of their time and that of others before they have any idea of what goes on. The technical details of past projects are sometimes lost forever, or only recovered after a detective investigation in an emergency. Often, the information has been recorded, it just cannot be found."

And so it was that he submitted the document, which is amazing to read today with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight. But it would take Berners-Lee another couple of years before he could demo his idea. And even then, the actual realization of his theory had to wait until the middle of the 1990s when Jim Clark and Marc Andreessen popularized the notion of commercial Web browsing with Netscape, and the world wide web (www) that we know today was born. Happy Birthday World Wide Web! Here is your birth announcement.

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Iconic actress and personality Lauren Bacall, born Betty Joan Perske, was in Houston the other night, for a showing of To Have or Have Not, to be followed by a Q and A session at the River Oaks Theater. Houston Chronicle reporter Maggie Galehouse spoke with the actress. In case you missed the interview we reprint a few relevant excerpts here:

(Bacall on movies) My feeling about the movies is that most of them are terrible. If you don’t have a decent script and a decent director, forget it. That’s why I thought the Benjamin Button movie was so encouraging. … I’ll forgive anybody anything if they have talent. What I find most disconcerting is that people in the profession are not creative but only interested in money, which is what this country is most about. It doesn’t appreciate talent. … For eight years we had a moron in the White House who didn’t even know what art meant.

Q: You mean George W. Bush?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you like Barack Obama?

A: I love him. I think he’s brilliant.

Q: There was a 25-year age gap between you and Humphrey Bogart. When you married, you were 20 to his 45. What was the biggest challenge of that generational difference?

A: My challenge was to keep up with him. He was a man of extreme energy and intelligence. Sentimental. Loving. An extraordinary man. I had to learn his ways. I was so thrilled to meet his friends. Noel Coward! I never would have known those people. I was in awe all the time. He adored me. I’d never had it before, and I’ll never have it again. I was lucky to have it at all.

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It is amazing what can be brought to life these days. Imagine, a robot trained to dance, and to lift glasses filled with water then pouring the liquids from one utensil to another without spilling the contents. A click on the arrow below will prove that seeing is indeed believing.

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What could possibly be more exciting than watching an elegant robot tripping the light fantastic? Why getting to witness the original nerd and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s historic debut on Dancing with the Stars for one thing. From the photo gracing the video it looks like Wozniak has been bitten by the same black turtleneck bug which has bitten Steve Jobs and the rest of the Cupertino campus. "I don't know if it was hilarious or delirious," declared Bruno Tonioli, usually the harshest of the judges. "It was like watching a Teletubbie go mad." Ouch! Len Goodman, another judge, was fascinated by Wozniak's dancing and said that he liked the knee spin, but then put the knife in. "Overall, it was a disaster."

Carrie Ann Inaba, who is the easiest grader, simply applauded Wozniak's effort, telling him you're "definitely going out on a limb" and that "you make us want to cheer for you." Clicking the arrow below will allow you to witness Woz’s historic performance for yourself, thereby undoubtedly bringing to life one of your fondest dreams.

What is it about our species which makes even level headed athletes like former NBA star Clyde Drexler and notable nerds like Steve Wozniak risk public ridicule by appearing on a national television program like Dancing With the Stars? Is there a Fred Astaire gene lying hidden within our dna, just waiting to blossom forth on ABC’s beck and call? We have to admit that in retrospect, seeing Wozniak’s performance was a real experience, possibly even a life changing one. For the better or not though, we haven’t yet decided.

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Patrick Stewart is an English actor who had specialized in doing Shakespeare for Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company over a career of many years, when Gene Roddenberry and the other Star Trek franchise elite selected him to play the leading role of Captain Jean Luc Pickard, commander of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, The Next Generation, the second iteration of the Star Trek television series. This summer, the 43 year old Star Trek franchise hits the big screen again, and it aims to attract a far wider audience than the usual 'Trekkie' crowd.

Patrick Stewart once said in an interview on Michael Parkinson's TV program that a reporter talked to Roddenberry about the choice of Stewart for the captain's role; the reporter said, "Look, it doesn't make sense. You got a bald actor playing this part. Surely, by the 24th century, they have found the cure for baldness." Roddenberry replied, "By the 24th century, no one will care."

In a conversation with Clive James, Patrick Stewart said he was proud to have walked the deck of the Starship Enterprise. Famous for his portrayal of kings and emperors as a star of the RSC, Stewart took the unusual step of moving to Hollywood to play Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

"All those years of working for the Royal Shakespeare Company... sitting in the throne of England, was nothing but a preparation for sitting in the Captain's chair on the Enterprise," he said. Patrick Stewart recalled his Enterprise days in a discussion with Clive James. Unfortunately the video did not exhibit embedding information, but through the magic of html and the infinite wonders of the internet you can see it in its entirety by merely pointing your cursor and clicking here! And as your reward for clicking here, and listening to the brief interview to its end, you will learn which American actor was the only other contender for the part of Captain Pickard. And you might just be surprised.

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According to a report by Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press a new survey of Americans show that these days fewer of us are religious. A wide-ranging study on American religious life has found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all.

Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey. Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

“No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state,” the study’s authors said. We here at Little Eddy are sure that some of this comes from a few religious zealot’s never-ending quest to incorporate biblical laws into the civil laws of the land. A case in point comes to us from Rio de Janeiro, where a Catholic archbishop recently excommunicated the mother of a nine year old, and her attending doctors, for aborting the child’s babies. The 80 pound nine year old was a victim of rape from her stepfather, and was pregnant with twins.

RIO DE JANEIRO — A Roman Catholic archbishop says the abortion of twins carried by a 9-year-old girl who allegedly was raped by her stepfather means excommunication for the girl’s mother and for her doctors. “Despite the nature of the case, the church had to hold its line against abortion,” Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said in an interview aired last week by Globo television.

“The law of God is higher than any human laws,” he said Thursday. “When a human law — that is, a law enacted by human legislators — is against the law of God, that law has no value. The adults who approved, who carried out this abortion have incurred excommunication.”

Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao rebuked the archbishop, saying, “I’m shocked by two facts: by what happened to the girl and by the position of the archbishop, who in saying he defends life puts another at risk.”

Abortion is generally illegal in Brazil, but the procedure is allowed when the mother’s life is in danger, when the fetus has no chance of survival or in rape cases where the woman has not passed her 20th week of pregnancy. Doctors said the girl was 15 weeks pregnant when the abortion was performed. Health officials said the life of the girl — who weighs 80 pounds — was in danger.

The problem with theocrats interpreting God’s Law is that they are human, but can be unwavering in their interpretation, since they are not interested in seeing the matter from the human viewpoint, instead ruling on it from a position of absoluteness. From the humanist point of view, the life of the nine-year old would be paramount. To our immutable archbishop, in his eyes it was the life brought about by familial rape of the parent which took clear precedence over the life of the 80 pound nine year old, who was pretty sure to have lost her life if she had been forced to carry the pregnancy to full term. It seems a simple enough question to me, what do you think? You be the judge. And do you find yourself part of the 14.2 percent?

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — What would you think of a canny chimpanzee who calmly collects a stash of rocks and then later hurls them at zoo visitors in fits of rage. Well, among other things it has confirmed the fact that apes can plan ahead just like we humans. Santino the chimpanzee whose anti-social behavior has stunned both visitors and keepers at the Furuvik Zoo, but has fascinated researchers because it was so carefully prepared.

According to a report in the journal Current Biology, the 31-year-old alpha male started building his weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a "hailstorm" of rocks against visitors, the study said.

"These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way," said the author of the report, Lund University Ph.D. student Mathias Osvath. "It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including lifelike mental simulations of potential events."

"Every time you can combine experimental and observational data and you get a consistent result, that is very powerful," said an author of the 2006 study, Joseph Call. "This is an important observation."
He noted that individual differences are big among chimpanzees so the observation might not mean all chimpanzees are capable of the same planning. "It could be that he is a genius, only more research will tell. On the other hand our research showed the same in orangutans and bonobos so he is not alone," Call said.

Osvath said the chimpanzee had also been observed tapping on concrete boulders in the park to identify weak parts and then knocking out a piece. If it was too big for throwing, he broke it into smaller pieces, before adding them to his arsenal. "It is very special that he first realizes that he can make these and then plans on how to use them," Osvath said. "This is more complex than what has been showed before."

The fact that the ape stayed calm while preparing his weapons but when using them became extremely agitated proves that the planning behavior was not based on an immediate emotional drive, Osvath said.

For a while, zoo keepers tried locking Santino up in the morning so he couldn't collect ammunition for his assaults, but he remained aggressive. They ultimately decided to castrate him in the autumn last year, but will have to wait until the summer to see if that helps. The chimpanzees are only kept outdoors between April and October and Santino's special behavior usually occurs in June and July.

"It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings ... It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing," Osvath said. "It cannot be good to be so furious all the time."

The good news about this story is that the chimpanzee is a lousy shot, and hasn’t as yet hit or injured any of his zoo going targets. The super good news also is that as yet the chimp hasn’t developed the skills of producing incendiary or explosive missiles. But given the degree of his aggressiveness, can nuclear weapons be far behind? We shudder at the thought.

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And while we shudder this way and that, that old tyrant named time has run out on us, and we find ourselves sputtering incoherently down the page. The only known cure: throw in the proverbial towel. Here it is. If you want more come back again next week. Meantime take a moment to take care and spread it around generously. Care is something the world cannot get enough of. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blog #78: Send in the “you know whats!”

Isn't it rich?

Are we a pair?

Me here at last on the ground,

You in mid-air.

Send in the clowns.

Isn't it bliss?

Don't you approve?

One who keeps tearing around,

One who can't move.

Where are the clowns?

   Send in the clowns.

Just when I'd stopped opening doors,

Finally knowing the one that I wanted was yours,

Making my entrance again with my usual flair,

Sure of my lines,

No one is there.

Don't you love farce?

My fault I fear.

I thought that you'd want what I want.

Sorry, my dear.

But where are the clowns?

Quick, send in the clowns.

Don't bother, they're here.

Isn't it rich?

Isn't it queer,

Losing my timing this late

In my career?

And where are the clowns?

There ought to be clowns.

Well, maybe next year.

Little Eddy would like to thank A Little Night Music for the poem, and for the images.

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My how time flies. Remember back to those dark, dingy days of yesteryear when Apple Computer was simply that haven for hippies and the unwashed. The Macintosh was a computer with an operating system so easy and intuitive that even a small child could use it? Which of course meant that real business people and serious computer users would have nothing to do with it? Apple made “toys” the business community snorted back then. In terms of real computers there was IBM first, and then they sent in the Clones (You know who you are, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.). And it took eleven years from the introduction of the first Macintosh in 1984 until 1995 before Redmond brought its first attempt at replicating the Macintosh experience into the world of IBM clones with Windows 95. In an attempt to get it right, or at least better, they came out with Windows 98 a scant three years later. Well, as Bob Dylan once rightfully noted, “The Times They Are a’Changing.” According to that unblushing clarion call of capitalism, Fortune Magazine, Apple is the most “admired” company in the world. And would you believe, it is that for the second year in a row? Way to go, Apple! In the current issue of Fortune, Alyssa Abkowitz makes note of this.

“It’s been a rocky year for Apple,” writes Alyssa Abkowitz. “CEO Steve Jobs’ health made headlines, and critics said Cupertino wasn’t being open enough about it. But customers remained loyal to the brand that made white ear buds cool. As much of the computer industry struggled, Apple shipped 22.7 million iPods during its first quarter (up 3 percent from last year), 2.5 million Macs (up 9 percent), and 4.4 million iPhones. No wonder Apple tops our Most Admired list for the second year in a row.”

In the nine key attributes used to rank the companies, Apple got top marks (1 out of 12) for innovation, people management and quality of products/services. It got lower marks (5 out of 12) for social responsibility and global competitiveness.

Curiously, when judged by its peers (i.e. other companies in the computer industry), Apple came in No. 2 after Xerox (XRX) and above Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

In the broader list of most admired companies in any industry — judged by companies both inside and outside the computer field — HP came in No. 30 and Xerox didn’t make the cut.

For further details about Apple’s sweep of the Fortune poll of the World’s Most admired companies go here!

And here is a side note of a bit of news of which I just know you’re most anxious to happen upon: Bill and Melinda Gates do not let their children have iPods and iPhones. Shocking news I know, that these who are surely among America’s richest children could be so deprived, but according to Melinda Gates in the current issue of Vogue Magazine, it is absolutely true. As they are growing up these poor children from what was at one time America’s wealthiest family, are being deprived of their Cupertino granted constitutional rights to own their very own iPods and iPhones. What could possibly be the reason for this rank deprivation? Are the Gates parental units involved in a desperate conspiracy to conceal from their progeny the built in superiority of the Apple brand? Since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also publicly boasted that his children are equally iPod deprived, perhaps there is some kind of anti-Apple bug running rampant through that Death Star to the North known as Redmond, Washington? Perhaps a fund needs to be started, a fund to furnish sparkling new iPods and iPhones to a growing generation of Gates and Ballmer scions, for what is wealth without genuine Cupertino white ear buds to sport in one’s aural cavities. Perhaps we could begin the process of taking up a collection here!.

Oh well, you can be absolutely sure that these otherwise blessed offspring are being allowed the full range of Zune products, although whether or not this is something worth twittering about is indeed a mute question. But most intriguing of all, could a ZunePhone be in their near future? For the full, unblushing story go here.!

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To “Twitter” or not to Twitter. Would that have been Hamlet’s dark dilemma had Shakespeare lived in this brand new 21st Century? And none have treated the problem with more inborn acumen than has Daily Show star Jon Stewart. If Shakespeare was living in 2009, would he have Hamlet twittering “to be or not to be?” It’s certainly well under the legal twitter limit of 140 characters a twit. Well, we were on track to bring you Stewart’s enlightening dissertation on the “Twitter” phenomenon when someone masking as Sumner Redstone threw us a curve. It turns out that the YouTube video we had originally embedded showing Stewart’s take on the fine art of Twittering was suddenly pulled from YouTube due to one of those nasty copyright infringements we have learned to put up with, if not love. In our desperation to fulfill our reading public’s well known need for its regular Jon Stewart fix we turned to the NBC and Fox owned website where we found the following complete program from March 3, 2009 which features former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor as Stewart’s guest. It is priceless, and Stewart reviews that Limbaugh speech to CPAC which so impressed us here at Little Eddy’s Blog and which has since been having reverberations all across America, if you are to believe what you hear on CNN and Fox. Thanks to the fine art of video embedding we are pleased to be able to bring you the entire program. Clear yourself a half hour of time and enjoy.

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How should Bill Gates introduce Bill Gates? That’s the father introducing the son to the Rotary Club in Seattle:

"If you'd indulge me for a minute, I'd like to get something off my chest. There was a time when I was somebody in this town. (Laughter, applause.) Those were the days when somebody said, 'Bill Gates,' they were talking about me! I ran a law firm, had a lot of employees, when local groups like Rotary were looking for a speaker, I was a hot -- maybe warm -- ticket.

"Look at me. Now I don't even have a name. I've become just 'Senior.' A suffix. Nobody reports to me. But I report to my son.

"Worst of all, I've been reduced to a warm-up act at Rotary.

“Bill Gates Sr.

"Now, seriously, let's get into this introduction. Having introduced and been introduced before, I have developed some very fixed ideas about the standards to be observed on such occasions. One, identify the very best thing you can say about the speaker. Hopefully something that ends with "est." Two, do not exaggerate.

"So I went into some very careful thought based on these rules as I prepared for this evening.

"Youngest. Well, pretty young. But youngest what?

"Richest. Doesn't work anymore. The folks at the Forbes 400 put an end to that.

"Smartest might be OK. But I don't honestly know the IQs of everyone, or even everyone in this room.

"Then it came.

"Fellow Rotarians, families and friends. Let me introduce Bill Gates. Bill Gates who, with the support of his wife, Melinda, is the largest philanthropist in the history of the world."

Our thanks to Todd Bishop and the TechFlash Technology news site for this. You can find it by clicking here!

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And finally there’s good news out there for readers of Nick Scipio’s ongoing novel, Summer Camp, Book Four, Christy. Chapter fifteen has just been posted, and may be found here! Summer Camp is a delicious series of books about a young boy’s coming of age spending summers at a nudist camp. The books take you through his growing up, and are named for his original teacher, Susan (Book 1), his first girl friend Gina (Book 2), his second girl friend, Kendall (Book 3), and the final book is named for the one he eventually marries, although the story hasn’t taken us that far as yet. (Book 4, Christy)

It is quite a different experience, reading a book as it is being written. It is certainly not something for the impatient or feint of heart. However, there it lies, blossoming before your eyes, though several months may pass between chapters. The series is for those of you out there who feel that there’s more to life than what the usual author puts down to page. Scipio, by taking you through Paul’s conquests in great detail, allows you to relive them with him to the extent that the printed page (make that the computer screen) will allow. What is so refreshing about Scipio’s Summer Camp series is that the characters are drawn so clearly, especially Paul, but also including his friend Tripp and all of the other characters in the story. Paul’s life, probably like yours and mine, gets messy at times, and it is fascinating to see how he handles his problems as they come up. And for most of the rest of us, we could just wish Paul’s problems paralleled ours.

Even if you decide to await Book 4’s conclusion before diving in, the first three books are lying there beckoning on his home page. Storiesonline is also home to my other two favorite authors, Wizard (the Trailer Park Series) and Russell Hoisington (the Wynter series.) Although he has been shamelessly derelict of late, some of Uncle Pan’s stories also reside at, although the bulk of them live on in perpetuity at

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And so another week’s Little Eddy Blog winds down. Like that snake you ran over the other day, this week’s blog spasms its final throes. Hopefully we’ll be able to revive the sucker this time next week. Hopefully too we’ll see you then.

The Real Little Eddy