Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blog # 94: Thursday, June 25, 2009 - A Bad Day for Legends

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Sleep Well Sweet Princess

Farrah Fawcett 1947-2009 On Charlie’s Angels, "When the show was number three, I thought it was our acting. When we got to be number one, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”

Goodnight Sweet Prince

Michael Jackson - 1957 - 2009 Jackson seems to have followed Ms Fawcett into the true neverland by three or so hours. How ironic it is that the two legends, Ms Fawcett, the fantasy pinup of the 80’s and 90’s, and Mr. Jackson, the most prolific and successful songwriter, singer, dancer of all time, should both leave our consciousness within hours of each other. Thursday was a heavy day indeed.

The Irrelevant Pretend Relevance

This week a gaggle of irrelevant Republicans led by Senator John McCain and also consisting of Senator Lindsey Graham and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, have attempted to assert their foreign policy bona fidies onto the world stage by publicly urging President Obama to come out more strongly on the side of the demonstrators which have been filling the streets of Iran this past week.

As the befuddled Republican outcasts attempted to inject themselves into the world picture, thank heavens our President has had the empathy, the sensitivity, not to mention the smarts, to resist the chiding of the Republican whiners. For the lot of them are simply proving for once and for all the wisdom the American people showed in resisting Republican pre-election ravings when on election day 2008 a compelling majority of us went to the polls to elect Barack Obama as our president.


A short history lesson seems in order here. Ever since our C.I.A. overthrew Iran’s popularly elected prime minister in 1953 and set up the C.I.A.’s handpicked Shah as Iran’s leader, the Iranian populace has not held American meddling in a very high place on their list of favorite acts by a foreign government. And all it would take for the repressive forces led by the currently all powerful spiritual leader, supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to go completely berserk would be to inject the slightest hint of American interference, after which the blood would flow like rivers in springtime. President Obama knows this, of course, as does Senator Richard Lugar, the closest thing Republicans have to a genuine foreign policy expert. But the rabble rousing wing of the Grand Old Party keeps trying to brand Iran’s insurgents with an American stamp, as they vainly keep trying to label President Obama as weak.§


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It’s Raining Republican Morality!

And Two More Republicans Fall from Grace

Of course, at this moment our Republican friends are desperate to demonstrate that they still retain some kind of relevance in this world that seems to be passing them by. This is especially true since the previously squeaky clean Senator John Ensign has joined the ranks of once sainted, now defrocked Republicans. A cynical public must be looking over their ranks wondering just who is going to be the next one to fall from grace.

To add to the public’s cynicism, Senator Ensign did not follow his own advice, advice in which he forcefully proposed to former President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal that he should RESIGN forthwith. The resignation question was also framed in the context of former Sen. Larry Craig, after the Idaho Republican was arrested on charges that he sought sex in an airport men's room. At the time Senator Ensign quite strongly called on Craig to resign. But as to his own indiscretions, not a word about resigning. So much for the Senator from Nevada practicing what he preaches.

In an fascinating aside we learn from a Blog called News Corpse that our dear friends over at Fox News had prior knowledge of Ensign’s scandalous behavior some days before he came out with the news himself in a press conference, but they kept their lips tightly sealed. From News Corpse:

“In a letter dated five days before Sen. John Ensign’s public confession of an extramarital affair, Doug Hampton pleaded to a national Fox News anchorwoman for help in exposing the senator’s ‘heinous conduct and pursuit’ of Hampton’s wife.”

So Fox News knew of Ensign’s infidelity five days before Ensign came forward. They got the information from the husband of Ensign’s mistress. That’s a pretty good source, especially when he asserts that he had corroborating evidence. Yet Fox News failed to report the affair prior to Ensign’s press conference, and has still neglected to disclose their receipt of the letter from Mr. Hampton.

Mr. Hampton addressed the letter to Fox News anchor Megan Kelly. Both she and Fox News have yet to comment on the matter. However, the Las Vegas Sun obtained a copy of Hampton’s letter that began …

“More than any time in my life I understand why people take matters into their own hands. I am disheartened! I have sought wise counsel, tried to do the right thing and continue to run into road blocks (sic) in dealing with a very terrible circumstance and injustice that lives in my life. I am hoping you and Fox News can help.”

Mr Hampton’s eloquent pleading of his case to Fox News was indeed heart rending, except that according to Senator Ensign, Mr Hampton was at the same time attempting to extort money from him, which is why Senator Ensign decided to go public with so private a matter in the first place. And so the pot calls the kettle black, and verse visa. Perhaps Mr. Hampton would have been better off if he had submitted his news to msnbc, a network more antagonistic to the subject of his complaint. For the full News Corpse story of Mr. Hampton’s fruitless efforts to enlist Fox News simply direct your cursor and click here!

And from our “they’re dropping like flies” desk comes . . .

And it only took a matter of days for the next prominent Republican potential presidential candidate to fall from grace. That would be Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. When the good governor disappeared for five days last week it turns out he wasn’t walking the Appalachian Trail after all. Wednesday afternoon at a press conference as he announced his resignation as head of GOP Governors Association, he followed that by confessing that he had been in Argentina, having an extramarital affair with a woman he was visiting there. Way to go, guv!

Is there a virus of some sort traversing the halls of Republicanism, one that feeds on possible 2012 Republican Presidential candidates? It seems to be a virulent bug indeed. One that sends its victims straight into the arms of an unwed paramour, and then onto a press conference stage to announce their failings to a waiting world.§

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Don’t Forget to Care About Your Health

With the Iran spectacle taking over the television news channels it is important that we keep Health Care ever in our sights. I don’t know how many people have said it, but enough have said it that it has to have a measure of truth. We are probably either going to get Health Care reform this year, or we are not going to get it at all. That is why Health Care shouldn’t be allowed to get moved onto a back burner, but must be led to completion this year. President Obama knows this, but with the sticker shock as to its costs, it must be tackled while the President’s approval rating is in the 60 % range.

The problem with the so-called Free Market system that we have today is that such a system is only profitable when you cut on back services. Insurance companies cannot make money by taking on everyone, and particularly those with so-called pre-existing conditions. And yet basic economics teaches us that the only way to substantially reduce costs is to devise a system that is all inclusive, that truly serves everybody’s health care needs, which would thereby bring down the costs for all.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel winning economist who writes for the N.Y. Times, covers this area in a recent column, Not Enough Audacity, which you can access here!

Once the feds have taken the reins, and have included a government sponsored program which will be priced to allow all of those not currently covered to be covered, then the costs will be contained. However, we must remember that a government run entity must be in the package, no matter how passionately the Republicans whine otherwise. For if we do nothing, then what we will end up with is what we presently have, which would be no improvement, and thereby not acceptable.§

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We decided to run the above cover about the War in Iraq as a reminder that the turbulence in Iran has caused the resurfacing of certain Iraq era neocons such as the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, who echoes the McCain-Cantor line urging President Obama to side strongly with Iranian protesters. But underlying their ravings are the distinct drumbeats towards war. We never should have listened to the neocons back in 2002-2003, and as they once again beat their war drums we have far less reason to listen to them now.

Supremes Make School Child Strip Search a No No

According to an AP story, which the esteemed news organization does not wish us to link to (unless we pay them an arm and a leg), the Supreme Court on Thursday found 8-1 that the strip searching of then 13 year old Savana Redding in the rural town of Stafford Arizona was illegal. The school’s vice principal was looking for prescription strength ibuprofen, the equivalent of two Advil pills, after another student had charged that Savana had given it to her. Arizona obviously takes their drug laws seriously, and after nothing was found in the girl’s backpack she was taken to the nurse’s office and ordered to remove her outer garments Then her bra and panties were moved around in such a way that offered proof that no drugs were on her, but also offered the attendees a view of her very personal private areas.

"What was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."

However the majority opinion assessed no penalty on the school's vice principal, Kerry Wilson, the official who ordered the search. Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the portion of the ruling saying that Wilson could not be held financially liable. "Wilson's treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it," Ginsburg said in her dissent, proving once again why a woman’s perspective is so vitally needed on the court. Perhaps a more balanced court would have voted to assess damages to the perpetrator.

And we’ll give you one guess as to who the one dissenting vote belonged to. Justice Thomas, of course, who claims that the decision now makes a girls’ underwear the hiding place of choice for pill hiding girls, but who, in truth, could never find it in his heart to rule a strip search as being unlawful. The full story may be found here! §

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Steve Jobs with his game changing iPhone


Confessions of an Unremitting Apple Fan Boy

The news that most gladdened my tired old heart this week, was that Steve Jobs, Apple’s mercurial C.E.O., had a successful liver transplant two months ago in Nashville, Tennessee, and was seen on the Apple campus on Monday of this week. It may be hard to justify my undiminished admiration for Jobs and all things Apple, but just like the sun that rises in the east every morning, it exists.

Of course, I am far from alone in my adoration. The tech website Gizmodo, has a striking compilation of articles on Jobs through the years which you can access by pointing your cursor and clicking here! But by far the most compelling appreciation of the Jobs mystique comes from Daniel Lyons, technology writer for Newsweek Magazine, who caused quite a stir in the tech community last year with his blog The Secret Diary of the Fake Steve Jobs, until he got unmasked by a N.Y. Times reporter. In his current piece, Why We Need Steve Jobs, he explains that he is in yet another line at an Apple store, there to get his hands on yet another piece of technology that he does not need, in this case the iPhone 3G S. You may access the entire piece here! However in it’s ending Lyons summed the mystique of Steve Jobs in as compelling a way as I have ever seen.

Then I went back to my office and tried to write this article on a PC on which I'm running the beta version of Windows 7, the brand-new version of Microsoft's operating system. I'd written a paragraph when the PC crashed, for no reason. I started up again, rewrote the paragraph, and then the PC froze—again for no reason. At that point I gave up and just wrote the story on my Apple MacBook Pro, a pricey but rock-solid little notebook that runs on an operating system I can't remember ever crashing. I have no idea what makes one operating system work better than another, except that I know you need to have someone in charge who keeps telling the engineers that it's not good enough — go back and do better. And that, my friends, is why Apple, and all of us, need Steve Jobs.

Well said Daniel Lyons. And perhaps you should inquire of Microsoft’s System 7 team as to whether it was at CEO Steve Ballmer’s insistence that a bit of code has been inserted which causes Windows Seven to freeze at any appearance of the name Steve Jobs. As absurd as it sounds, it is no more absurd than many of Mr. Ballmer’s public predictions about Apple products.

To say Jobs embodies all things secretive would be an understatement. News organizations, whose job it is to expose secrets, hate such corporate secrecy but few would deny what its penchant for secrecy has done for Apple and its bottom line. An uncountable number of websites exist only to speculate and expose news of Apple’s new projects. What other product in the tech world or otherwise, can claim such intense interest. And public interest in news of the company soars, and especially when the time nears for the worldwide developers conference, or some other occasion appropriate for the launching new and improved products.

The award for the most obnoxious coverage of Job’s and Apple’s secrecy policies, and particularly of Job’s health issues, belongs to a business writer named Joe Nocera, who writes a column in the N.Y. Times. In Mr. Nocera’s latest tome he seems to think that Jobs and Apple’s board of directors owe he and the stockholders he purports to represent minute by minute tweets on the state of Job’s health. His irrational rant may be found here! It is a free stockmarket, Mr. Nocera, and stockholders who agree with you are free to sell off their stocks and take their business elsewhere. One doesn’t see very many of them doing that. What is fascinating is to read the reader’s comments to Mr. Nocera’s blog, most of which show far greater perception and sensitivity than those of the columnist himself. One wonders if Mr. Nocera’s superiors at the Times ever bother to read the comments his column generates, and if so, why he is still writing on the topic?

But like it or not, Steve Jobs, the Apple world has an untiring interest in your well being, and in your health. Hopefully most of us are not as obnoxious about it as is Mr. Nocera, but we are guilty none the less. Not that it is any of our business, but hell, there’s an awful lot in this world that’s none of our business, things that we are constantly attempting to stick our noses into. Of course you have every right to keep your private life, and for that matter, your public life secret. However, it is equally true and many of us will continue to pursue news of you unrelentingly.

Your devoted followers have been given the rather condescending moniker Apple Fan Boys, a term undoubtedly having its origins in Redmond, Washington, home of Microsoft, the Colossus that Envy Built. But let’s face it, you have had an indelible effect on the computer industry, unmatched by any other individual. Two major computer makers, Dell and Gateway, presently sport imitations of your all-in-one iMac computer. Even your most famous failure, the G-4 Cube computer, won design awards worldwide, and a model is on exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in N.Y.C. And another one sits at 12022 N. Fairhollow Ln, as a backup computer to my iMac. And the computer has a cult following to this day, and sells well on eBay.

But it was the original build of the all in one, CRT iMac computer that really changed the face of the computer industry. Home computers of the day were square, box-like contraptions that came in several pieces, the computer, the monitor, and of course keyboard and mouse to control it. And their color was universally beige. Then came the all-in-one CRT iMacs with their curved shapes, their cool colors, and their translucent skins. The Macintosh had become an all in one computer again, like it had been in its very first incarnation, the Macintosh Classic. And it was that computer, the CRT iMac, that singlehandedly brought Apple back from its death bed allowing Apple to re-establish its place as the most innovating computer company of them all.

But Mr. Jobs didn’t stop there. Always the music fan Jobs and Apple did not invent the MP3 Player, there were several out there when Apple decided to enter the market. What Apple did do though that was unique was develop not only a stylish, completely intuitive player, but then build an entire ecosystem around it. A system that saved what was left of the music industry by offering downloads of music you could buy from the iTunes store at a reasonable price rather than steal them from so-called pirate sites.

As far as Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone market, we think it most intriguing to remember Microsoft CEO’s Steve Ballmer’s reaction to Apple’s entering the cellphone market. The following he said on April 30, 2007, "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance," said Ballmer. "It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get."

Can you think of any other example of the CEO of a gigantic dominating company being so publicly wrong about a competitor’s product? Such is the weird karma that seems to synergistically exist between Cupertino and Redmond, probably going back to a time when Apple discovered that Microsoft, which was developing several software products for the Mac OS at the time, was also developing an operating system to run on msdos machines that was an imitation of the Mac OS and which was named Windows. The Apple that was not being led by Steve Jobs at the time attempted to sue Microsoft in the courts, but since the GUI was originally developed at the Zerox research facility at Palo Alto, the case was lost in the courts. Upon Jobs return to Apple the suit was dropped, Jobs talked Bill Gates into buying a large amount of nonvoting Apple stock, and consequently Microsoft materially helped fund Apple’s comeback at a critical time in it’s history.

But the animosity seems to persist between Cupertino and Redmond. Both Ballmer and Melinda Gates have publicly announced that their children, certainly among the richest in the country, are not allowed to own either iPods or iPhones. When we first read this we satirically suggested taking up a collection to fund the purchase of iPhones and iPods for these exceedingly rich but otherwise culturally deprived children. Of course this is a free country, and every parent has the right to restrict what their offspring may own. But on the other hand, what could possibly be the motive of keeping such innovative, game changing products as the iPod and iPhone away from their children. How many out there really think a Zune can replace an iPod, or a phone running Microsoft mobile can replace an iPhone?

But I think the real secret to Apple’s recent success can be found in it’s retail stores located in many of the nation’s leading malls. Jobs opened the stores because he knew his Apple computers would not be pushed in the usual computer stores. At the time Apple was opening its stores, Gateway Computers was closing their’s. But there was a big difference; Gateway stores carried no stock, if you saw a computer you liked you had to order it like anybody else. But Apple stores are fully loaded with products that you can walk out of the store with. And not just Apple products like computers, iPods and iPhones, but also many peripherals like sound systems, extra hard drives, plus all kind of software.

And unlike most retail operations, even children who obviously aren’t going to buy anything, are allowed to play on computers to their heart’s content. The day I was seeking a pair of stereo speakers for my iMac the Apple associate who was serving me apologized that he could not demonstrate a certain kind of speaker because a nine-year old girl was playing a game on the computer they were attached to. He was apologetic but firm.

To an ordinary person that may sound absurd, completely unbusinesslike. But looking back, every visit to my local Apple store found it with dozens of children playing computer games. And don’t you just know that in a few years those children are going to grow up to be dedicated Apple fan boys and girls. Thinking back on it, it’s one of the most ingenious marketing ideas I have ever encountered. It is no wonder Apple’s retail stores are making marketing history and breathing new life into Apple's bottom line.§

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And so a lousy, momentous week has finally dragged on by. The good news of the week was tempered by the bad, as two icons checked out for parts unknown on Thursday. We plan to do the same at this point, but we hope to be able to find our way back this time next week. And of course we hope you will want to do the same. Meantime, sweet dreams Farrah and Michael, and the same to our readers. See you next week. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Blog #93: The Comedian-in-Chief Has Spoken . . .Again!

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Friday night, June 19, 2009 President Obama spoke at the Radio and Television Correspondents Annual dinner. He noted that it gave him a chance to use some of the jokes that weren’t funny enough to be used at the recent Correspondents dinner. The Comedian-in-Chief has a decided bent for comedy, and his talk made us realize once again how lucky we are to have him at the helm in these troubled times. Starting the evening off was the latest JibJab parody, below, which features the President as a Super Hero. It’s pretty funny too, which you can check out by putting your cursor below and clicking on the arrow.§

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

President Barack Obama saw this video for the first time Friday night at the Radio and Television Correspondents Association dinner. Depending on when you access our page you may be seeing it shortly after the President as we upload our blog early Saturday morning.§

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Surprise, surprise. Republicans Criticize Obama

Republicans this week, including ex-presidential candidate John McCain, were critical of President Obama for “not injecting himself, and America, into the Iranian conflict on the side of the dissenters. What wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans. For the truth is that Barack Obama has more leadership in his little finger than the entire Republican leadership has in their totality. Ever since our wonderful CIA overturned a democratically run Iranian election and set up the hated Shah in power, the Iranian people have held a quite understandable mile high grudge against the hidden powers that be in the United States, as President Jimmie Carter was unfortunate enough to find out the hard way.

And so the very last thing that an American leader should do is to take any position at all in the turmoil that is sweeping Iran. To state otherwise it to make one wonder whether what is left of the Republican Party’s leaders power of reason? Can they get anything at all right? And it continues to make us thankful that the American people finally had the courage to resist the Republican electioneering lies and scare tactics, and vote into office a man of brilliant intellect whose sole purpose is to put into effect those changes that the American people have indicated they want.

What is happening in Iran is a purely homegrown phenomenon that no one predicted, but whose crowds are stretching impressively across our television screens. And if not a single Republican chooses to go along with Obama’s policy of hands off, then so be it! To each his own, as the song goes. Of course, Republican who are really in the know like Senator Lugar, support President Obama’s approach to the problem of Iran. The real reason those Republicans who are snapping their criticism are doing it is the dichotomy, they do not admit to the CIA’s original interference with the Iranian elections, and so see nothing wrong with an American president taking sides in the current conflict. Fortunately for America and the world those people are not running our government. McCain made a good case for his foreign policy expertise during the run up to the election, and he lost soundly. Enough said.

But Democrats, in the skewered name of bipartisanship please do not allow Republicans to water down your legislations for change. And especially not that in the field of health care. Nothing short of a government sponsored alternative can possibly make a dent in breaking this hold over our healthcare by the insurance companies and HMOs presently exercise. For-profit companies must make a profit at any cost. Executives and stock holders demand it. And the only way insurance companies can turn a profit in health care is by denying service when expensive medical procedures are called for.

A government option will change that. For once there will be real competition, and the established companies will either change their ways in their quest to be competitive, or else they will lose membership to a government spawned entity which has no profit motive, and thereby no interest in curtailing choice of medical procedures. One of these days, will someone please present to me a logical argument as to why we Americans ought to support a for-profit program which restricts services over an all-inclusive program which does not restrict services. Only an idiot or a Republican on the take from the health care establishment would fall for a line like that.§

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This artist’s rendition of the high flying Beatles celebrates the gift of freedom that the ‘60’s gave us, personified by those irrepressible Beatles.

Graphic from


This Week’s Blog Dedicated to the high flying World Wide Web

This week’s blog is dedicated to the world wide web, a most amazing tool that empowers each of us in a way that no other tool has ever done before. Many of you will know much of what I am celebrating this week, for this blog is being written as an introduction for any of you out there who have yet to really dip you feet into this remarkable pool of knowledge and applications.

Is Iran on the edge of revolution, or will those in charge manage to strong arm the opposition once again? Stay tuned to CNN on cable, or if you’re on the web go to Twitter to monitor events in real time. And just in time Google is offering a tool to translate Persian (Farsi) into English, and vice versa. Isn’t it amazing how quickly new web forces can challenge established political structure? Why, because the web is the most democratizing force on the face of the earth, as it empowers people one on one. Just as the survivors of that flight which crash landed into the Hudson River, stood on the airship’s wings waiting for rescue and Twittered their plight to a waiting world, so in Iran dissidents are busy twittering their friends and others announcing protest meetings, etc. Of course, the government is quick to block access to social networking sites like Twitter, but those with the knowledge can easily get around the government’s attempts to block.

What a monster is this that has been unleashed on a world so desperately in need of it. This tool of instant communication, combined with the always available cell phone, and especially the new smart phones which can both simultaneously surf the internet and text your message to the world, these are certainly the most empowering tools for democracy in my lifetime.

The web, or to call it by its full name, the world wide web, is a phenomenon which has not existed before, well, before the early 1900’s. It was then that the internet’s first web browser, Mosaic, was developed to actually allow access to the web which linked the Unix based computers of the time together. Mosaic was a college developed program, developed so that the browser could be used on Unix based systems to access the web of computers that Tim Berniers-Lee had linked together. And thanks to the phenomenon of the web the story of the birth of the browser may be found here!

The commercial evolution of the web browser happened when Jim Clark recruited Marc Andreesseen and many of the college developers of Mosaic, to develop a commercial version of their browser, whose first incarnation was named Mosaic Netscape 0.9. Later at the insistence of the college Mosaic was removed from the name. For the full story go here!

What has resulted has been this ever growing presence which has changed the way content, including news, is accessed and assimilated. The vast majority of web content is free beyond whatever charges your internet service provider tacks on.

We hereby suggest prayer for Creationists, which I am absolutely sure they will deliver with conviction. It goes like this: “God Bless Evolution, and for the maturation which is yet to come.” For as surely as evolution has guided the development of all life on this planet the same phenomenon has guided all developments of computing and of the web. Newspapers and magazines first appeared on the web during the middle 1900’s as online equivalents of their paper antecedents. But as html was being developed, soon news stories and articles began using html’s unique ability to link content. This is what the web does that did not exist before its invention.

In the days before the development of the web, in order to research something you went to the public library and checked out books which you felt might explain what you were seeking. A tedious, hit or miss process at best. Now the internet has replaced the local library, and the search engine, in most of our cases Google, has replaced library cards. You type your inquiry into Google, hit return, and chances are somewhere in the results will be the very information you are seeking.

Storied newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post are available to you without cost in addition to your monthly internet service provider fee which keeps you connected. And they offer guidance and opinion which compel your attention. Take these words by Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman, discussing the Sotomayor nomination for Supreme Court Justice.

The hearings begin on July 13. The very fact that she has to prove her impartiality to a Senate that is more than three-fourths white and male is a bit bizarre. But let us dedicate these hearings to the memory of Ginger Rogers. As the late Ann Richards once said, Ginger had to do everything Fred Astaire did, only she had to do it backward and in high heels. Sonia Sotomayor is going to have to do this dance forward and on crutches.

And of course html can offer you full access to Ms. Goodman’s words on the Sotomayor nomination by pointing your cursor and clicking here! And another click will bring you Ms Goodman’s excellent article on the murder of Dr. Tiller here!

In addition to conventional newspapers which are offering their content, there is a brand new evolution of websites which are known as aggregators, sites which pull in news and opinion from all over. Examples of this are, of course, the Drudge Report (which covers the right wing), The Huffington Post, which covers a broad field of news with a more liberal bent, and Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, which is our favorite aggregator (which you had undoubtedly noticed by the prevalence of material we aggregate from her site. Including the frightful sight below:

The GOP’s living dead won’t stop haunting their party, says lifelong Republican John Batchelor. Now Rush, Newt, and Dick are doing what zombies do best: laying waste to everyone’s brains.

The 3 Zombies of Republicanism

Photo from The Daily Beast

In a Daily Beast blog titled Attack of the Zombie Republicans, John Batchelor, a lifelong Republicans, takes a sharp look at dead of brain spokesmen for the Republican Party today, Limbaugh, Cheney, Gingrich, Cantor. He calls them Zombie Republicans. His last paragraph goes as follows:

None of these mewling half-measures speak to the fact that a once idealistic, decent political party of all the states and all demographics for 150 years has now become a cruel cadre that defines itself like a jihad by what it is against. Now and again, I want to shout at them that the city on a hill that is America was not built by four centuries of honest strife to be a gated-community of vain whiners. But then I relax and let them do the talking. “Fail” is a word that ties together Limbaugh, Gingrich, Cheney, and Cantor, and they use the word like a curse routinely. “Fail, Obama.” “Fail, Powell.” “Fail, Pelosi.” “Fail, liberals.” “Fail, Moslems.” “Fail, health care.” “Fail, moderates.” “Fail, city on a hill.” The zombies hurl the word at whoever does not look like them or listen to them or need them. They are speaking into the looking glass. “Who’s the fairest of them all?”

And true to the web’s ingenuity and ease of use, access to Mr. Batchelor’s entire piece is the proverbial one click away, to be accessed simply by pointing your cursor and clicking here which will allow you to fully score.§

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The Supreme Joy of World War II’s End


Above we reprint the famous LIFE Magazine photo celebrating the end of World War II. In a moment of celebration two people who did not know each other, joined in spontaneous celebration of the end of America’s longest war up to that time. We have always been fascinated by this uninhibited expression of joy, and googled the story from a nurse’s website. You can access the full page by pointing your cursor and clicking here!

Among the excited crowd was Edith Shain, a nursing school student, along with her roommate who had taken the subway to Times Square when they heard the war was over. “We ran to Times Square because that’s where celebrations happen in New York City,” Shain said.

According to historical documents, the Times news ticker in Times Square went dark at 7 p.m. and then at 7:03 p.m., the crowd roared in jubilation as the words “OFFICIAL — TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER” blazed across the news scroll. Elated by the news, people in the crowd were hugging and crying tears of joy, but it was a far different experience for Shain.

“This sailor just grabbed me and kissed me,” she said. “Any female closes her eyes when she’s about to kiss so I never saw the guy, and then I walked away. I was kind of embarrassed. I didn’t say anything about it to anyone.”

What Shain didn’t realize, until a week later, was that her “indiscretion” was caught on film. While browsing a copy of a Life magazine, Shain, then 27-years-old, recognized herself in what has became an iconic photo titled “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan) of a sailor slightly dipping a nurse in a white uniform and kissing her. Of the kiss, Shain said, “It was very nice, and of course, it was in the days before you’d scream and go to an attorney. It was the best of times.”

The famous photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt, a photojournalist for Life Magazine. In his memoirs, Eisenstaedt explained that when he saw a sailor running along kissing any girl in sight, he ran ahead of the sailor while making sure to look back so that he wouldn’t miss anything. “Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed,” Eisenstaedt said. “I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse .…. People tell me that when I am in heaven they will remember this picture.”

Though Eisenstaedt died in 1995 at the age of 96, the celebrated picture has not lost its significance. In celebration of the 60th anniversary of V-J Day, Shain flew to New York City where a slightly larger-than-life-size statue titled “Unconditional Soldier” by J. Seward Johnson based on the Life photograph was unveiled on Aug. 11, in Times Square. Though the sailor has never been identified, Carl Muscarello, 78, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who is one of about 20 men who believes he is the sailor in the famed photo, was also in attendance. He gave Shain a hug and a kiss (this time on the cheek) for nostalgia’s sake.§

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Steve Jobs

Good News for Apple Fans!

The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday morning that Steve Jobs, the mercurial CEO of Apple, Inc., had a liver transplant recently in Tennessee. Jobs has been on a medical leave from Apple for most of the year because of an unspecified health issue, but is reported to be returning to the job sometime this month. Apple’s stock has risen in price since his absence, which seems to indicate that skittish stock holders have retained their confidence in the company.§

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Happy Birthday Number Six Sol Dean-Badeaux

As we prepare to wind down Blog #93 we would like to extend our fondest birthday wishes to our youngest grandchild, Sol Dean-Badeaux, who’s family is celebrating the sixth anniversary of his entry into this world on the very afternoon of this posting. His grandmother Anne, his uncle Joel and I have sent our gift, and we one and all wish him a most happy occasion. Which I am quite sure it will be.§

The gigantic clock on our wall has run out on us, leaving us living on borrowed time as it were. If we were a little light in the sails this week, well such is life. Next week you can never tell, we may come up with our “killer” piece which might actually direct a surfer or two to our site. Then again, maybe not. You will never know unless you come back and check us out. Meantime all that is left is to say, “bye now.”§

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Blog #92: Health, With or Without the Care

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Would You Like Your Health With or Without Care?

(Senator Shelby, in answer to Chris Wallace’s question, what’s wrong with President Obama finally coming around to backing a government run program, and mandates on businesses to supply their employees health care.) “There's two things. One, you don't know how much its going to cost, and who's going to pay for it. And secondly, it will be the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known. (Why is that?) Because when the government is involved more and more in the details, and you start the one pay deal, and you've got the government competing with private enterprise with all of the incentives and the power, they will destroy the marketplace for health care and it would be a mistake, and the American people better be careful in what they want.”

Friends, what you have in Senator Shelby’s rant is pure warmed over Reaganomics. What’s wrong with his analysis? On his first point, sure you know very well who’s going to pay for it. All of us. Including business, and the rich who can afford to finance their own health care, but who will also get to contribute to the care of the community. And as to his second point, and this is the ringer, “it will be the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.”

Really, Senator Shelby? Of course you personally have excellent health care, under a system run by the very federal government you’re trying your damnedest to scare the rest of us to death about using. President Obama simply wants you and your fellow Senators and House Members to share . . . he wants all of our citizenry to have access to that system par excellence that serves the members of the Senate and House. He gets depressed when your wonderful private insurance providers deny patients’ treatments in order to save money and create profits for their executives and stockholders. He thinks people who pay monthly premiums for health care insurance should be able to get the care their doctors order and which they have paid for. Which is often not the case for the Health Insurance companies hire skilled persons whose sole job is to find ways to deny coverage to policy holders services which will cost the company money.

And as for the Senator’s statement about it being “the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known,” yes, ours may well be the best health care system the world has ever known. For those few who can afford it. It’s a damn shame that most of us are priced out of it. The whole point of the president’s initiative is to correct the free market system you praise so glowingly. To help it get to the point where it will include us all.

You cry that the poor private insurance companies won’t be able to compete with a government run agency which does not need to make a profit, and thereby would not stand in the way of their patients needing treatments. If the private insurance companies can’t compete, then so be it. Let them fail. That’s capitalism in its purest form.

We the people of these United States need to be offered a system which unconditionally offers us the treatments we need, a system that does not hold back services so that insurance company stockholders can earn dividends on the denial of service to the insured. That lame-o minority leader of the House, John Boehner whined Thursday that if we want health care run like the Post Office then be his guest. Well, friends, the Post Office is a privately run company, one which just has to have the postage rates approved by Congress. What President Obama has proposed is a Government entity which would exist so that every person who wished could get as fine a health care as do Senator Shelby and Rep. Boehner.

And so conservative purists and libertarians will scream to high heaven about our abandoning our basic “every man for himself” philosophy and they’ll decry the government’s intrusion into the private free market. But the United States of America is the richest and most powerful industrial nation in the world. We pay the highest health care rates of any country, and yet we rank 37th in the quality of our care, and that ranking is shameful. Obama said it clearly, and we couldn’t agree more. America can do better than that. It is simply a matter of focusing on the problem, and removing the dead weight, and feeding upon that which works.

And so, Richard Shelby, turncoat Senator (first elected as a Democrat, then switched to Republican the year the Republicans took over the House) just what would it take for you to convince me that you are indeed serious and the people of America need to listen to you? How about if you first renounce that cushy government run Health Care program you qualify for as a Senator? Renounce it and then sign up with Humana, or one of those other for-profit gouging companies you are so busy extolling. However, if you did do that then it would be plain as the nose on your face that you had lost your power of reasoning, and so Senator or not, no one in his right mind would take you seriously. Senator Shelby congratulations, you have come up with the 2009 version of an honest-to-god Catch 22. Welcome to the Twilight Zone in the World of the Irrelevant.

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Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security


Homeland Security Report Right on the Money

Remember all that crap back in April when someone outed that report being prepared by the Department of Homeland Security that predicted right wing extremists might be going out of control due to several factors, the country had elected a black man for president, a fear that the Obama administration was going to take people’s guns away, and that President Obama was turning the country into a socialist state, not to mention the crashing economy thanks to the mess left by the Bush/Cheney regime. Remember what a tsunami of indignation that news of the report stirred up among the outraged right, so much so that Homeland Security honcho Janet Napolitano had to renounce the report and apologize for its preparation.

Well, guess what? That report’s prophecies are unfolding right before our very eyes and ears. Last Sunday an abortion doctor who had been nightly assailed on that slanted travesty of television that Rupert Murdoch laughingly calls Fox News, was forcibly removed from this life. Finally one of Bill O’Reilly’s listeners took him up on his nightly tirade and murdered the doctor as he was acting as an usher in his church. Murdered in cold blood in a house of peace no less? That’s a principled pro-lifer for you. And O’Reilly, like his boss Murdoch, lacks basic human qualities like shame. He feels no remorse, he boasts loudly that he would do it all over again. And he probably will, ranting on about whoever takes over Dr. Tiller’s practice. Isn’t it wonderful to be a deity, standing head and shoulders above mortals, in a zone where have no responsibilities, and you can do no wrong.

The Many Faces of Conservatism

Photo from


In addition to the doctor’s demise an army private was murdered in front of a recruiting office by a would be muslim recruit. Three sheriff’s deputies were murdered in Florida recently, and finally on Wednesday a guard at Washington’s Holocaust Museum was murdered by an 88 year old white racist who probably wanted to go out in a blaze of glory himself. He did get shot for his trouble, but the last I heard he was still alive.

A Face of Rant

Is that enough proof for you, Murdoch and O’Reilly? Words have consequences. Obviously there is a market for the kind of rabble-rousing distortion you promulgate. There’s a market for all kinds of garbage in this world. However, we have a suggestion. Quit fanning the flames. Stop being the cheerleaders for insurrection. Once it begins you just might find out that you don’t like this Armageddon you’re trying so hard to bring on.

Instead try reporting the news straight for a change, rather than warping it to fit your own ideology. And to Fox News listeners might we suggest a switch to CNN and/or msnbc for a real change. Have a heaping helping of truth and objectivity with your news in the case of CNN, or opinion with a human dimension in the case of msnbc. You might be surprised at how satisfying hearing undistorted truth can make you feel.

Op-Ed columnist and Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman has an excellent column on this subject in Friday’s New York Times. You can access it by pointing your browser and clicking here!

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A Message in the Interest of Your Health

Image from


The other day I was thinking back on my life. At least on that portion of it that I care to reminisce on. I used to smoke. I ended up smoking from two to three packs of cigarettes a day, and towards the end I decided that it was the paper that the tobacco was wrapped in that was deadly, and I switched to leaf wrapped cigars. I smoked for thirty years, starting at age 16 where cigarettes and popcorn filled that 10 minute break every hour beautifully when I was an usher in a movie theater. I finally quit at age 46. It was not easy, tobacco is the most addictive substance I have ever had to deal with, and after I quit I used to beat on the walls in frustration. But I knew I could do it, as my father had been a heavy smoker his entire life, and he up and quit one day.

Thinking back on it, all of my friends who smoked and didn’t quit are dead now. Have been for a long time, most of them dying from lung cancer. As for me, after I quit I had symptoms of emphysema, which as I read about it meant that carbon dioxide which was heavier than air had collected in the lower cavity where my weakened lungs could no longer expel it. I devised a home treatment for this, hanging upside down on a gravity exerciser, and expelling that heavier than air CO2 by blowing it out with the help of gravity. Who really knows if that did any good, but doing it gave me a definite sense of accomplishment, and that leathery sound in my voice got a good deal less leathery.

It is good to note that finally Congress is poised to allow the Obama FDA to put some meaningful restrictions on smoking. Like so many ex-smokers I am vehemently against the smoking of tobacco. What little satisfaction that comes from its use is more than outweighed by the harm that it does to your system. I know all that stuff about this being a free country and all, and we should be free to kill ourselves if we wish. But the nation’s health is important, non dangerous drugs like marijuana are outlawed, but real killers like tobacco and alcohol are left to forces of the free market. But friends, never forget the message of that graphic above: Cigarettes, they make you cool. But also they make you dead.

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Good News for the Limp of Heart

Last week we told you about our favorite mythical drug, See-All-Is, which can put the spark back in your spigot, the vim back in your vigor. It treats a condition us well troddened ones are prone to called e.d., which stands for erectile dysfunction. Of course the real problem is our libido won’t stand up, it just lies there limply.

This week we have great news for all See-All-Is users. No more will you have to take a pill and then wait patiently, maybe for hours, until it decides to go into effect. Not a minute longer, my dear friends. The makers of See-All-Is, America’s favorite getter upper, have developed a brand new version of the pill that you take daily. It’s a version guaranteed to spice up both your life and our bank accounts. Think about it. No more waiting. Now for the first time ever you can be ready to answer mother nature whenever she makes that call, day or night. But only with the new, daily See-All-Is.

See-All-Is also comes in elephant-sized doses

Photo from


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Good News for the Summer Camp Crowd

There is good news for fans of Nick Scipio’s Summer Camp series. Volume Four-Christy had a new chapter added June 2, 2009. The stories begin with Scipio’s main character, Paul Hughes, a teenager whose family spends their summers in a nudist camp. The series chronicles Paul’s life as he grows up, and the volumes are named for the females who influenced his growth. The first book is named for Susan, the camp owner who was instrumental in teaching him about sex. The second volume, Gina, details his life with his first girl friend, the third volume Kendall, his life with his second girl friend, who emerges from an arrangement whereby Paul had two girlfriends simultaneously for a time, to succeed Gina as his sole girl friend.

By this time Paul is in college, as are both girls, and he is studying architecture, with both girls studying medicine. Paul breaks off with Kendall early in volume four, and at chapter 16 Paul has discovered a new girl friend. However, the introduction to all four volumes happens in the present, and has Paul married to Christy, and the father of two girls. By chapter 16 though, his relationship to Christy is fractured at best, and we will have to wait for further chapters to find out how they finally get together. If my synopses sounds a bit like a tv soap opera, well so does real life, which is why soap operas are like they are. Scipio draws characters who are both richer than life, and yet have their share of human foibles. His writings compare favorably to my other two favorite “coming of age” authors, Russell Hoisington and Wizard, whose writings also appear on storiesonline.

You can access Summer Camp, Book Four Christy here! However due to the adult nature of the content you will have to register before access is granted. If you are new to the series we suggest that you go to Nick Scipio’s author page, and download the series beginning with Book One. His author page can be found at here! All of storiesonline’s content is free, however we hear that donations to the site are welcome and paid tiers of membership are available.§

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And so does this week’s Little Eddy Blog wind itself down. As we Antler Dance off into the sunrise on this outstanding morning, we would like to wish a most happy upcoming birthday to Sol Dean-Badeaux, who will be partying in celebration of his 6th birthday next Saturday, June 20. We will be with him in spirit, and hope one day to be in Seattle once again in the flesh. Unfortunately we are awaiting the invention of Star Trek style transporters, and they don’t seem to have made their way off of a television screen and into our fractured economy as of yet.

Happy Birthday, dear Sol. Here’s hugs from me to you, to big brother Cedar, and to parents Daniel and DeAnna. May the Seattle Space Needle Angel bless the lot of you. And as for the rest of you, we’re happy you came and hope you can find your way back next week. Good Bye, and thanks muchly for stopping by.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blog #91: Of Politics, Potency Pills, and “Planned Obsolescence”

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Favorite Album Covers Archive

From our Favorite Album Covers Archives comes this cover from the Beatles final studio album, Abbey Road. Note Paul McCartney’s bare feet which fed the rumor mill of the time that McCartney was no longer with us. Ironic as he seems to be slated to be the last standing Beatle.


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Romney Criticizes Obama

Mitt Romney, one of a roomful of failed Republican aspirants in 2008, seems to be leading the charge in the “America Can Do No Wrong” wing of the Republican Party. He gave a speech this week decrying President Obama’s frequent speeches on foreign soil in which he apologizes for the United States’ past sins. “How dare he mention our past failings,” Romney seems to be saying, implying “A pox on the rest of the world.” Without realizing it Mr. Romney reminds us that the United States practically invented the phrase “we can do no wrong,” and that is the message he seems to think Obama should be making to the world. Fortunately President Obama ran his election campaign on a platform of not denying America’s past mistakes, and his present admissions represent his attempt to rebuild America’s bridges to the world in the spirit of honesty, and particularly to those parts of it with whom we’ve become estranged.

Friday morning’s Houston Chronicle likened Obama’s Thursday speech to the Muslim world to giving a speech while walking “in a minefield.” A local Muslim leader said she never thought the day would come when a U.S. president would go to the Middle East and deliver “words of hope and inspiration and appreciation.” And in our opinion his speech to the Muslim world will rank exceptionally high among his many remarkable orations. If you missed it you really should experience it, and thanks to the Daily Beast you can experience the msnbc version of it by placing your cursor and clicking here! It is available in both video form and as text.§

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Senator Hutchinson Blowing in the Wind

Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, told host John King that the discussion of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court should be conducted “respectfully.” The only problem with Ms Hutchinson’s suggestion is in her choice of words. For some strange reason I’m having trouble associating the word “respectfully” with talk radio’s mighty bag of foul wind, Rush Limbaugh. And I can find no proof that the word can be found in Newt Gingrich’s vocabulary, as we’ve not been treated to a single example of his usage of the word.

Of course thanks to the Florida District Attorney the world knows that Rush Limbaugh has a hearing problem which he is treating with addictive mind altering prescription drugs, some of which in the past he has been charged with obtaining through illegal means. All of which finally sheds light on the true sources of Mr. Limbaugh’s inspiration.

What Newt Gingrich’s problem is we presume only his wife and his newfound Catholic Priest/Confessor know for sure. However on Wednesday Gingrich did acknowledge that he has not turned loose of his dream of a Republican presidential candidacy in 2012 by rescinding his call of Judge Sotomayor as a racist, thereby finally aligning himself with mainstream Republicans.

Of course the use of the term “better” was ill-conceived in a speech where you are trying to convince primarily white men of your place in the judicial sun. Few white men in power will ever concede that the term “better” is ever appropriate in the job prospectus of any minority person with Supreme Court aspirations. Better than what? Better than the judgement of a WHITE man? SAY WHAT?

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson


And good luck, Kay Bailey, on your GOP cleanup campaign. Your heart is in the right place even though the extreme wing of your party seems to lack that most basic human quality. Our prediction, Senators who eventually will have to run for reelection will take your advice and treat Judge Sotomayor with the respect you call for and that a Presidential appointment deserves, particularly a president who is ranking as high in the popularity polls as is this president. Meantime the ethically challenged among conservative extremists will use Justice Sotomayor’s nomination to raise lots of money and will make as loud a noise as they can manage before they get mowed down by the Democratic Affirmation Express.§

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Selling Prescription Drugs on TV?

Speaking of drugs, (as we were when referring to Rush Limbaugh) don’t you love the way prescription medications are being advertised on tv these days. I hesitate to say it but in my case there was one instance when their advertising actually worked. It was some years ago, and I had one of these golden age male enlarged prostates and whatever I was taking for it to increase my urine flow was woefully inadequate.

I spotted a tv commercial about my condition promoting a product called Flomax. It showed a middle aged guy (looking something like me) driving a pickup truck (not a bit like me) with a gigantic PortoPotty regally standing upright in the truck’s well. One could visualize the frequent stops where the man would hurriedly exit the cab, rush around back and with a single bound leap into the truck’s back to avail himself of the facility. I take my hat off to whichever agency’s bright light dreamed this up. It was just ludicrous enough to get me to talk to my doctor about giving me a prescription for Flomax, and damned if I haven’t been taking it ever since.

However, the ads you see most often on the tube these days are pushing those miracle pills that defeat that old abomination of the elderly male, e.d., which without the punctuation marks spells my first name, but with them it is shorthand for a condition called erectile dysfunction syndrone. For all you non old men out there, that means those dreadful times when no matter how delectable your inspiration, “you just can’t get it up.”

At this point we would like to make up our own imaginary commercial for a drug to cure your very own case of e.d. It is called: See-All-Is. The scene is of two old fashioned bathtubs out in the great outdoors at sunset, placed side by side on a bluff overlooking a beach with a great body of water. There are no visible pipes, and it is one of life’s mysteries how those tubs got filled with water. But each tub is appropriately filled and each one is occupied. In the left tub lies a male of indeterminate age, in the right one a drop dead beautiful member of the female persuasion. Of course each tub being filled allows only the head and shoulders of the occupiers to be visible. Shucks.

As we are lulled by this extremely pastoral scene a deep soothing voice drones on interminably: “Be sure to ask your doctor if you are healthy enough for sexual activity, and if he says yes, don’t forget to have him to direct you to where you might get some action? Men whose late mothers counseled them to avoid the mischief an extended digit might get them into, are urged to conduct a seance to determine her feelings from beyond the grave.

”Don’t take See-All-Is if you have athlete’s foot, as the possible loss of a foot or two might be seen by some as a serious impediment to walking, and don’t take See-All-Is if you have poison ivy as it might cause a serious dereliction of one’s outer covering. See-All-Is’ side effects include jungle dysentery, mange, and terminal jock itch. Nursing mothers, or ones who might in the future become nursing mothers, should not take See-All-Is because you don’t have that digit that See-All-Is pumps blood to, leaving you in eminent danger of hemorrhaging. And men, don’t take See-All-Is if you take nitroglycerin for chest pains as you just might blow yourself into the next time zone.

”If you experience an erection lasting more than four hours immediately check yourself into the nearest brothel, bathhouse (if you swing that way), or if neither is available, your local emergency room. And be sure to give your doctor a call to relate all of the fun adventures your condition has brought you, so that he can increase your fee upon your next visit. And so men, if your libido needs pumping up (along with your favorite alter-ego) don’t wait another minute. Call your doctor right away and ask him for a prescription for See-All-Is.”

So how about it men? Are you going to rush right out and ask your doctor about See-All-Is? Or any one of its three real life equivalents.§

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Dr. Brinkley’s Goat Gland Rejuvenation

I’m quite sure See-All-Is ranks high above Dr. Brinkley’s monkey gland implantations of the nineteen twenties and thirties. Actually when googled those monkey glands turned out to be goat glands. It was an odd story, indeed. One that could only happen in the America of its time, the free-wheeling 1920’s and ‘30’s.

Dr. John R. Brinkley, a physician practicing in Wichita, Kansas in the 1920’s, was a man who had had only two years training in a questionable medical school, and a mail order medical degree. (Kansas was one of three states he would have been allowed to practice in at that time.) He once worked as a doctor on call to a large Wichita slaughterhouse, and while there he was very impressed with the vigor with which goats slated for slaughter attempted to reproduce themselves before the slaughter house mallet ended their miserable dreams forever.

Several years later an elderly farmer came to the doctor complaining of a fractured libido. It is said that the doctor, remembering the enthusiasm of those goats on their way to slaughter, half jokingly suggested implantation of a sliver of goat testicle in his gonads. The farmer said “do it,” and the doctor had the farmer pick out his goat, whereupon it was castrated and a sliver of its testicle was indeed put into the farmer’s gonad. And several months later the farmer was bouncing in and out of various bedrooms thereabouts and thanking the doctor profusely for the return of his sex drive. And according to legend, the good farmer was soon blessed with the arrival of a baby boy, which he and his wife gratefully named “Billy,” we trust in honor of his Capricornus donor. And indeed word of the doctor’s good deed did like wildfire spread, and soon the doctor had bought himself Kansas’ first radio station and had begun advertising his services to a dysfunctional nation. And the money started rolling in.

Of course the American Medical Association frowned darkly upon this unlicensed physician advertising such an outrageous service, and due to AMA action he soon lost the ability to practice medicine in Kansas (or anywhere else in the continental United States. ) Then in a tussle with the I.R.S. the good doctor lost his radio station. Subsequently he was forced to move his operations to Mexico, where he opened a 100,000 watt radio station, XERA, in Del Rio, Mexico, and once again began touting his services, this time from a refuge outside of the continental United States. (Since radio signals don’t travel far during daylight hours, his station, XERA, would broadcast Spanish language programs during the day. At night, when his signal would travel across the length and breadth of the United States, he would broadcast his English language pitches and feature entertainment. He hired the country singing icons of that time, the Carter Family, to appear on his station, and in her autobiography the late June Carter Cash told of her family’s moving to San Antonio, Texas when she was a child, so that they could perform on the doctor’s radio station across the border in Del Rio, Mexico.)

And so you can readily see that radio has had a long history of nuts and charlatans on its airways. Which of course brings us to one of the more outrageous radio personalities of our day, Rush Limbaugh.§

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A Brand New Radio Animal

Rush Limbaugh is today’s brand, a new kind of radio animal. No selling of monkey/goat glands for him. He makes his living making the politically out-of-touch believe that by listening to him they will become relevant and empowered. He calls himself an entertainer, but he is does damn little entertaining, unless you are entertained by his black and white, pedestrian view of the world. Limbaugh feels no affinity for the truth, whatever that means to his pain-dulled mind. If chided about the fiction he pervades as fact and truth he whines that he’s no journalist, he’s an entertainer. So there.

Although what he, ex-president of vice, Dick Cheney, and the Emperor of Snide, Newt Gingrich, are saying these days is music to the ears of the devoted Christian Conservative wing of the Republican Party, their statements are highly embarrassing to the rank and file Republicans who would really like to get themselves reelected next year, and who sincerely wish to grow their party’s influence and see it become relevant once again. However, in our opinion heaven forbid that would happen after the last eight years of Republican misrule. Which is why we fervently support Messrs Limbaugh, Cheney, and Gingrich in their right to air whatever postulations their twisted minds might hatch. Just please don’t expect us to come anywhere near anything they espouse.§

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Would you care for some “planned obsolescence” with that hot water heater?

Michael Moore, the documentary film maker who jousted with the CEO of General Motors in his first film, Roger and Me, noted that Monday, June 1st at 8 am Eastern, General Motors would file for bankruptcy. In a Daily Beast piece published on the morning of its filing, which you can access here, Moore credits GM with inventing "planned obsolescence," the conscious decision to sell cars that would fall apart after a couple of years, forcing their customers to buy a new one whether they wanted to or not.

I didn’t realize that GM was the culprit that invented this dastardly condition, but I’m happy to take Moore’s word on this, as he has a high percentage of being right in his many creative endeavors. But as I await a Sears repair man to return my two year old hot water heater to a state of giving hot water again, I have been giving this matter of “planned obsolescence” some serious thought. It may have originated in automotive industry, but it seems to have spread like the plague throughout the entire world of appliances.

I grew up in the 1930’s and came of age in the ‘40’s. We lived in four different rented houses during the time I grew up, and in none of them did we ever have a hot water heater go out on us. Neither did we have other appliances go bad on us. If you bought an appliance from a reputable manufacturer it just worked. Refrigerators were replaced from time to time, but only because we sought a bigger unit, not because one was refusing to work.

Nine years ago when I moved into my present house, I bought a refrigerator from Sears. It has quit working on at least three occasions since I bought it, each time needing a repairman to come out to get it up and running again. Isn’t that interesting? What a change from the thirties and forties when manufacturers made appliances that worked. Nowadays if you don’t buy one of those three year warrantees on your appliances be prepared to pay through the nose when your appliance breaks down. And unfortunately the question is not if, but when.

A Kenmore Water Heater


Above is a picture of my Kenmore Water Heater which failed last week. What happened? According to the licensed repair man who refused to repair my unit because I did not have his fee of $180 in the bank at the time of his visit, my unit has been manufactured to suck in various debris, and it has been especially clogged up with lint being discharged from the clothes dryer which sits two appliances over from the water heater. All of this was delivered in a manner which somehow tried to cast blame on me for having this lint spewing dryer and letting it go untrammeled. When this debris reaches a certain level, bingo, denial of service, according to the repair man. Funny thing, after his denial of service our hot water resumed running like always. Whether he accidently fired it up again, or whether someone in the house was able to start it up as I’ve heard claimed, I have no idea. But I can shower again, and that is something the entire household is thankful for.

Obviously this water heater is a case of “planned obsolescence.” Why can’t the engineers at Kenmore design the unit so that it doesn’t suck up debris, and consequently periodically go on the fritz. They used to be able to do that way back there in the 20th Century. As the Shadow used to say, “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of appliance makers?” Well, if he didn’t say it quite that way he could have.

Our explanation: Sears, Home Depot and the other appliance sellers have this string of repairmen they have to keep on the payroll, and so these days the manufacturing community is obligingly adding this timed breakdown feature into the manufacturing process so we will have to call on their repair services from time to time. And to help them finance these work crews they attempt to sell us insurance plans with their products which will cover their labor fee as these carefully planned breakdowns reach their time.

This rather succinctly kills the myth that manufacturing techniques and the products they produce have improved over time. In the 20th Century American manufacturers proudly developed products that worked, and worked for long periods of time. In the 21st Century they have progressed to the point where they manufacture products with built-in fail, fail which usually sets in within a two year time period. And that my friends is what we in the 21st Century laughingly call progress. Thanks a lot, GM, for getting that ball rolling. What could possibly be next on your agenda? Dare we contemplate?

Happily not all appliances are affected by this malady. One bright exception to the rule are computers, which actually seem to double their speed and capacity with the passing of each year. And which can last many years past their prime, and usually can be kept in good repair by several widely available software repair programs.

Of course, computer vendors have good reason not to program “planned obsolescence” into their products. Repairing computers is quite costly to the manufacturer. It is true most problems are software problems, and those can usually be corrected by computer programs. But even providing call centers is an expensive proposition, which accounts for the fact that many users of Dell computers were suddenly having their service calls answered by techies with pronounced Eastern India accents.”§

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Several Faces of Dick Cheney

There are two interesting faces of our beloved ex-president of vice, Dick Cheney in this week’s Daily Beast. Primarily in a speech given before the Foreign Policy Institute, Senator Carl Levin, long a member of the Armed Services Committee, branded as lies Cheney’s claims that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” favored by the post 9/11 Cheney, produced meaningful intelligence which “saved American lives.” The entire speech, worth every minute of your time reading, may be found here! And turning over that leaf the Beast published a fascinating blog contrasting Bush’s vice presidency with a vice presidency of the past, that of Aaron Burr. Pointing your cursor and clicking here will bring it to your attention.!§

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Charles Darwin


Extolling Darwin’s Greatest Hits

Two weeks ago we decorated our blog with a poster extolling very gradual change with a picture of the late Mr. Darwin done in the style of President Obama’s pre-election Hope posters. We would like to follow that up with this extraordinary video discussion from the New York Public Library. It features two current authors in the field, Adam Gopnik in a fascinating conversation with Steven Pinker. You can experience this conversation yourself by clicking on the arrow below.§

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And it so came to pass that this week’s blog wound down and faded into the sunset. Or moon set depending upon your time zone. We enjoyed preparing our site for your visit, and sincerely hope you can find your way back to these parts again next week, same time, same URL. Until then, have a good week, and let’s all join hands and support Barack Obama as he continues his mission of leading our country out of Republican darkness and into the Democratic light. And at the risk of sounding like John McLaughlin may we wish each and every one of you a most hearty . . . bye, bye.§

The Real Little Eddy