Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blog # 96: Dribs and Drabs Plus

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And we DO mean limber


Dribs and Drabs

Hey, let’s extend the welcome mat for some of the new words that made the grade in this year’s Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Words like Acai (1868): a small dark purple fleshy berrylike fruit of a tall slender palm (Euterpe oleracea) of tropical Central and South America that is often used in beverages. And Carbon footprint (1999): the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically: the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period. Others include Cardioprotective (1984): serving to protect the heart, Earmark (15c): a provision in Congressional legislation that allocates a specified amount of money for a specific project, program, or organization.

Fan fiction (1944): stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet, Flash mob (1987): a group of people summoned (as by e-mail or text message) to a designated location at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing, and Frenemy (1977): one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy. And former vice president Dick Cheney will be happy to learn that the term waterboarding (2004): an interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee's mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning, has proudly (or not so proudly) made its way into Merriam-Webster’s 100 new words. The dictionary can’t make the process legal or moral, but at least it is an admission of its existence . . . .§

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And the so-called Young Republicans seem on the verge of making a not so young 38 year old Obama hating racist named Audra Shay as its new leader. If you are a Republican John Avlon gives you several good reasons why you should be concerned here! And conservative blogger Meghan McCain gives you even more reasons for concern here

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The End of All Going Away Parties

In case you happened to sleep through last Tuesday or had been in some kind of drug induced state of non comprehension, the memorial service for Michael Jackson which was held in the Staples Center in Los Angeles dominated both cable television and the internet. It was a moving, tasteful production lasting between two and three hours, which of course is exactly what you would expect from the producers of Jackson’s ill-fated London concerts, which hastily put the program together. The cable news networks played little else for the rest of the day and night. It really was a day of closure, and the Cable News Networks have since gone back to reporting the news.

According to Gigaom, a website which tracks such things, the Memorial program pushed internet limits, but did not bring down websites as had happened on the afternoon of Mr. Jackson’s death. According to Om Malik, the King of Pop was also King of the Net, at least on that one day. The streaming video distributor Akamai says that it was the second-largest day in terms of total traffic on its network. Akamai delivered more than 2,185,000 live and on-demand streams in both the Flash and Windows Media formats. Total traffic on the Akamai network surpassed a rate of more than 2 terabits per second during the memorial service. Akamai says that it delivered 548 Gbps of live and on-demand Flash streams utilizing Adobe Flash technology. There were 3,924,370 visitors per minute as of 1 pm EST. For a more complete rundown on the day’s statistics point your cursor and click here!

At usual The Daily Beast was the place to go for lively remembrances of Michael Jackson. For instance: "He was 10 years old, and he had just come to Motown, and [Motown artist and Jackson 5 mentor] Bobby Taylor and I used to take Michael to the golf course with us. He would ride around in the cart with us and critique our golf game, and when we'd hit a bad shot, he'd laugh. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I saw how talented he was when he was 10 years old. He was 10, but he was 30! He sang like he was 30, he danced like he was 30. He was awesome."—Smokey Robinson

In 1978, Sidney Lumet pulled me kicking and screaming into doing the music for The Wiz, starring Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael as the Scarecrow. Michael dived into the filming, learning not only his lines but everyone else's. There was only one problem: There's a scene where the Scarecrow starts pulling proverbs from his stuffing and talking about Socrates. Michael kept saying "So-crates." It was really interesting to watch; either because of his age or his fame, no one wanted to correct him. After about the third time, I pulled Michael aside and told him the correct pronunciation. He looked at me with the big, wide eyes of a child opening a present under the Christmas tree and said, "Really?"— Quincy Jones

"He was such a sensitive guy that when we would go out to dinner —he was a vegetarian — he would apologize to each vegetable before he ate it. He ordered steamed vegetables and he literally would say, "I'm sorry, Mr. Carrot" and "I'm sorry, Mr. Broccoli." He was so empathetic to other people and all living things — that's really what I remember most about Michael, even more than his dancing and singing. When you talked to Michael, you really felt he was feeling what you were feeling."—Rob Cohen, producer of The Wiz

You can find two pages full of these delightful remembrances by pointing and clicking here!

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In New York state an obscure Republican Congressman named Peter King has Senatorial ambitions, and is presently eyeing the Senate seat recently held by Hillary Clinton, before she abdicated it to join Barack Obama’s White House as Secretary of State, and which has since been filled by another Democrat, Kirsten E. Gillibrand, who was recently appointed to the post by N.Y. Governor David Patterson.

Now Congressman King is not what you would call an empathetic human being, although dropping the prefix em just might make the word appropriate. Even the use of the term “human being” could be called into question in his case. He is very conservative, and undoubtedly ambitious, and obviously has a stark deficiency in the area of personal taste with which to guide him on his quest.

When the Fourth of July Weekend found news of Michael Jackson’s death still dominating the national news cycle, Mr. King got an aide to film him standing outside an American Legion hall delivering a rant which he later posted on YouTube. He began by calling Mr. Jackson a pervert and he questioned the media’s exhaustive coverage of the star’s death. He went on to decry the fact that society is glorifying a “low-life” while hardworking teachers, police officers, firefighters and veterans don’t get the credit they deserve. “This guy was a pervert,” King went on, warming to his subject. “He was a child molester. He was a pedophile. And to be giving this much coverage to him, day in and day out, what does it say about us as a country?”

Of course Mr. King is right in one sense. For better or for worse ours is a free country. Mr. King has the right to any opinion he might hold and wish to express, no matter how outrageous or how it may differ from that of yours or mine. And his position as an ambitious House member means that he will get media attention which will allow his opinions to be widely heard and read. Of course, he is showing a complete lack of taste by trying to elevate his political fortunes on the memory of a recently deceased icon and much loved celebrity. I believe this will hurt him with every voting group except the most extreme conservative, unfeeling Republicans. Rush and Newt will be rooting for him in his upcoming political skirmishes, but I suspect ordinary folks joining them will be few and far between.

Michael Jackson’s personality was far too complex for a simple minded conservative like Peter King to comprehend, much less pontificate upon. It is far more impenetrable than even those with above average wits like you and me can fathom. However, whether King or his conservative friends like it or not, Mr. Jackson created a unique place for himself in the culture of our world. And as a consequence he is beloved in almost every corner of the globe.

Whereas it is true that he didn’t create the music video art form, he certainly broadened its frontiers, and took it to previously undreamed of heights, and in the process he managed to integrate the previously all-white video music channels, MTV and VH1. His dancing put him right up there with the Fred Astaires and Gene Kellys. He sold records by the truckload, and helped create the tradition of music stars caring about and aiding the world’s poor with his and Lionel Ritchie’s song “We Are the World,” and the subsequent royalties the song brought in. In short, he had more talent in his left hand pinky than Congressman King has in his entire being.

Now, fortunately for the world’s population I discovered at an early age that I am not a deity cloaked in human flesh, and that my opinion bears absolutely no weight in the world’s general scheme of things. However I have been blessed with the ability to dream. And upon reading of Mr. King’s crude attempt to elevate his political fortunes at the expense of one of the planet’s most beloved departed icons, I took the liberty of wishing for Congressman King the following fate. As for his political future, for defaming a deceased Michael Jackson for his own ill conceived political advantage, we would sentence Peter King to spend his entire eternity watching the video of 11 year old Paris Jackson’s tearful farewell to her father. Paris Jackson proved one thing as that Memorial Concert wound down. She proved that even at eleven she is real person, a genuine caring human being. Rather than flesh and blood, however, Mr. King proves himself to be made of blubber. Representative King is the type of thinker whose every utterance is as flotsam and jetsam floating on an ocean of irrelevance.§

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And The Winner Is . . .

. . . Serena Williams!

Last week we published an incredible photo of Venus Williams taken as she was playing in the women’s semi finals at Wimbledon. Well, the sisters were pitted against one another in the finals, and for a change younger sister Serena came out on top. We thought it only fair that since last week we showed you Venus, this week we honor the winner. Congratulations to both of you.

We Impatient Americans

We Americans are nothing if not impatient. Last week’s polls showed that President Obama’s approval ratings have taken a real hit, dropping from the mid-sixties to the mid fifties. We can only speculate as to the reasons. The stimulus money has been out there for awhile but to date the jobless rate is not falling, as promised, but may actually be inching up a bit. Are some of the states with conservative leaders using the stimulus money to settle past debts, rather than putting the money to work improving their infrastructure. The proposed health care legislation has been estimated to cost in the area of a trillion dollars over the next few years. Pressure on the Democrats to drop the public option in their forthcoming health care bill and fear that they will do so has undoubtedly added to the president’s popularity slide.

On Thursday came a report that jobless claims actually fell for the first time down 52,000 from the week before, while those filing ongoing claims rose to another all-time high, according to government data released Thursday. And so another small crumb for those of us who are rooting for the President and his plans for putting the U. S. economy back on track.

So now is the time for all of us to keep our cool. Just like it had been with president George W. Bush once we woke up to the fact of what we had, we can do nothing about the presidency of Barack Obama. Of course, he is not going to represent all of our needs every minute of every day. No one can do that. But, for the first time in eight years there is an even hand directing our foreign policy, and international tensions are ramping down and presently lay at a helluva lot lower level. Obama is beginning to mend the fences that Bush, through ignorance or arrogance, allowed to be broken over the past eight years. And most important of all, the nations of the world are beginning to respect the United States of America once again.§

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The feud between House Democrats and Obama appointed CIA director Leon Panetta seems to be ramping up, with a letter written by five leading Democrats charging that the CIA mislead them. Panetta seems to be sticking by his previous statement that “it is not the intention of the CIA to intentionally mislead the Congress.” That reminds us of the legendary statement comedian Mort Sahl attributed to the German developer of the V2 rocket, who after World War II the United States recruited to its own space program, Werner Von Braun. His statement, as attributed by Sahl, concerned the goals of Germany’s World War II V2 Rocket Program. “We aim for the stars . . . and sometimes we hit London.”

Of course the CIA lied to Congress, just as it has lied to the American people. Regularly. Incessantly. The lie is a major tool in the quiver of the spy. The truth would make the entire intelligence program useless and ineffective. Of course, secrecy is the reason that the CIA has been so effective in the past. No one, other than a handful of select House and Senate committee leaders, know what the CIA is up to at any given moment. And evidently at times even they have been cut out of the loop. And so over the years the CIA has assassinated certain world leaders that we don’t like, until such clandestine activities were exposed, after which presumably they ended such programs. So, lighten up Leon Panetta. Don’t pretend that this agency you now lead is without sin. You have done useful and effective things in your past jobs. Don’t use up your political capital in fights with Democrats in Congress, particularly over something as silly as denying the CIA has lied to the Congress. Of course they lied. The truth would always have been their last resort, and then only to use after all of their lies have failed. So come off of your high horse Leon, and rejoin the party.§

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The Beatles


All You’ve Got Left is Love!

Paul McCartney (Upper left above, as if you didn’t know) in a posting on his website denied rumors he was upset that Michael Jackson did not leave him his songs in his will. Here is his posting:

”Some time ago, the media came up with the idea that Michael Jackson was going to leave his share in the Beatles songs to me in his will which was completely made up and something I didn’t believe for a second.

"Now the report is that I am devastated to find that he didn’t leave the songs to me. This is completely untrue. I had not thought for one minute that the original report was true and therefore, the report that I’m devastated is also totally false, so don’t believe everything you read folks!

”In fact, though Michael and I drifted apart over the years, we never really fell out, and I have fond memories of our time together.

”At times like this, the press do tend to make things up, so occasionally, I feel the need to put the record straight.”


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Heeee’s Baack!

The Return of the Fake

When I decided to explore the idea of writing a blog I will have to admit getting a gigantic wad of inspiration from a blog called: The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, which was written by someone calling himself the fake Steve Jobs. Of course, Steve Jobs is the most colorful figure in all of technology, this admitted fake seemed to capture Jobs’ language, or at least how many of us thought he might talk, occasionally taking honesty to the level of crudeness. Who was really behind the blog was the talk of Silicon Valley, for at the time no one knew who might be writing it.

Even Jobs’ longtime arch rival Bill Gates, denied being the mysterious author when they appeared together a couple of years ago on an All Things Digital conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. At the time the real Steve Jobs was quoted as saying, "I have read a few of the Fake Steve Jobs things recently and I think they’re pretty funny."

Within a few months the author was unmasked, he was shopping around a book at the time, and a N.Y. Times reporter traced him to the Boston area and exposed him. He turned out to be Daniel Lyons, who was a technology writer and editor for Forbes Magazine, and who at the present time writes on technology for Newsweek Magazine.

On July 9, 2008, Daniel Lyons announced on the Fake Steve blog that he will be launching a new site under his own name and discontinuing writing in a faux Jobs style. He later announced that his decision to place the Fake Steve blog on indefinite hiatus was out of respect for the real Steve Jobs' health:

"I began hearing a few months ago that Steve Jobs was very sick. I wasn't sure if these rumors were true or not. Then I saw how he looked at [the Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, 2008] and it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I just couldn't carry on."

Well, to make a long story interminable the Real Steve Jobs is on the mend from a liver transplant a couple of months ago, and so Fake Steve Jobs lives again. His latest tirade takes on the Mighty Google on its new Chrome operating system, which he refers to as vaporware.

So everyone is worked up about this new browser operating system from Google. Drudge apparently has gone off his meds again and calls it a "death blow" to the Borg. No spinning red light, but still, pretty over the top. I guess it's supposedly going to destroy us too -- like we're some kind of collateral damage. Man oh man. Where to begin?

First of all, nobody seems to appreciate how goddamn hard it is to make an operating system. You don't just wake up one day and fall out of bed and make one. Not even the smarty pants kiddies at Google can do that. These things take years. Decades, even. Ours started out 20 years ago, at NeXT. You could say it goes back to 1977, with the BSD guys. Heck, you could even say it goes back to 1969 with Dennis Thompson and Lionel Ritchie. Even Windows is -- what? Twenty years old? Something like that. For that matter, look at Linux. Correct me if I'm wrong – and I'm sure you fucking freetards will find something to correct – but I think Linus Tordalv started working on Linux back in 1991 when he was a high school student in his native Denmark. That's nearly twenty years ago, and the shit still doesn't run right. Point is, whatever Google might release in the second half of next year, it will just be a starting point. It won't come close to what we've got.

Welcome back to Blogville, Fake Steve. That’s all we’re gonna crib from your latest blog here, if any of you readers want the entire enchilada point your cursor and click here!§!

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And so another edition of the Little Eddy Blog winds down and fades gingerly into the sunset, or sunrise, or wherever you might happen to be reading this. This week’s blog didn’t create much in the way of smiles. It’s hard to make funny when you and most of the country are in the death throes of a beautiful talent and life gone away. But we made it through, it’s all over now, and we can go on to fresh dirisives down the road.

We will do our best to find our way back to these parts for a fresh posting next Saturday morning. We hope you can find your way back during the coming week. As Fake Steve would say, namaste.§

The Real Little Eddy

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