Saturday, August 1, 2009

Blog #99: Greenpeace, Jobs' Wisdom, Joel's Cover

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A Jobs Quote of the Week

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

Steve Jobs


Greenpeace pranksters graffiti up Hewlett-Packard building


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Greenpeace’s Graffiti War with Hewlett-Packard

C-Net’s news service reports that Greenpeace sent a band of merry pranksters to HP's global headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., where they climbed on top of the building and painted a gigantic message announcing "Hazardous Products," using nontoxic children's finger paint. The message covered more than 11,500 square feet, which is about the size of two and half basketball courts.

According to Greenpeace, the organization took this action because HP broke its promise to eliminate hazardous chemicals in its products. Earlier this year, HP postponed its 2007 commitment to phase out dangerous substances, such as brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, from its computing products. The delay shifts compliance up two years, from 2009 to 2011.

Apart from the graffiti, HP employees were also greeted today by automated phone calls from actor William Shatner, calling upon the company to phase out the toxic chemicals.

HP’s reply: For decades HP has been a leader in environmental responsibility and has adopted practices in product development, operations, and supply chain that are transparent and help to reduce its environmental impact. HP has a comprehensive approach to environmental sustainability, with three main components: minimizing our impact; helping our customers to improve their environmental performance; and driving towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

This commitment includes reducing the use of BFR/PVC in our products until these materials are eliminated entirely. HP has introduced several new computing products this year that use less BFR/PVC than previous generations. This September, HP will release a BFR/PVC free notebook. By fall 2010 all new commercial PC products released will be BFR/PVC free. By the end of 2011, all new PC products released will be free of BFR/PVCs.

Earlier this year, Greenpeace released a report that rated PC makers and other electronic vendors in regard to their compliance with e-waste elimination. Apple was ranked highest among PC makers and HP was one of the lowest, together with Dell and Lenovo.

It would be interesting to know what this little prank cost Greenpeace in the way of money. The thirteen merry pranksters, even if they were volunteers, needed to be fed and transported, it must have taken one helluva lot of children’s finger paint to cover that huge area, and of course there was the cost of the helicopter used to transport Kim White who took the photo. We also wonder just how long HP allowed the message to stay up before their cleaning crews scrubbed it away. The complete CNet story may be found here! And finally, in the immortal words of the famed police victim, Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”§

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Welcome to the World of Surrealism

Reading the news in newspapers, and listening to it reported on radio and television is becoming quite a surrealistic experience these days. Gee, hearing Rep. Eric Cantor say he knows that health care reform is something that Americans are screaming for, but (and here he gets a bit creepy) he wants a bill that’s only a little bit of an improvement, and one which does not contain a public option.

Some basic economics here. Our capitalist system is based on the idea of making the most money out of one’s investment, which means that health care insurance companies must make a profit or their executives will get one of those notorious slips tinted pink. And the only way they can do that is to reject patients with pre-existing conditions so their subscription base is relatively healthy, and when a payee does get ill and his doctor prescribes an expensive operation or procedure, they must reject the requests, or they will otherwise hurt their bottom line. Just a few days ago one company reported profits of over a hundred and sixty percent over last year.

The fear mongering Insurance Companies scream, “do you want some faceless bureaucrat to have the ultimate say over whatever procedure your doctor orders.” To which we counter, “no we don’t, anymore than we want an insurance company to make huge profits by refusing me the various surgeries and procedures my doctor recommends.” A public option is guaranteed to cut insurance companies profits down to size, and it is probably the only thing that will, which is why Republicans and parts of the Health Care Industry are screaming so loudly against it.

Of course you don’t want government bureaucrats telling you whether or not you can have a surgery or an expensive procedure, but if you have health insurance today and your doctor recommends an expensive treatment your insurance provider will likely try his damnedest to either drop you altogether or if that fails deny paying for your treatment. And so what it really all boils down to is this: which would you prefer, having your private provider who has to make money for his stock holders deciding which of your treatments he will pay for, or having a government bureaucrat with the unlimited resources of the American government behind him supporting both you and your doctor? I mean the answer is such a no brainer that you would think even a person with the mentality of Rep. Cantor would be able to see it. But of course, all of that Insurance company green that they rain down on their Congressional supporters has been known to cloud otherwise clear vision.

Every American should see Michael Moore’s film “Sicko,” which documented case after case of real people experiencing an insurance company’s denial of service. A public option will end that nonsense, either the private plans will begin adequately caring for their patients, or they will lose patients to the public option and eventually go out of business. But that can only happen if a public option is included in the bill that finally passes the Congress and gets signed by the president, so each and each and every one of us should take it upon ourselves to call or email our Congressmen and Senators. And don’t listen to that nonsense that we shouldn’t touch our health care system because America’s Healthcare is the finest in the world. American health care is only the finest for those few and far between who can afford to pay for it. The rest of us, as GI’s used to say in World War II, are S.O.L. Truth is we rate something like 37th in the world, behind most industrialized countries. Even poor struggling Cuba ranks ahead of us.

In sum up, the health establishment’s favorite tool is fear. Making us afraid of change will assure their continued riches. But we should make our clarion call the famous words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!”§

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A well-trained Blue Dog Democrat taking care of business.

– photo from –


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“Blue Dogs” Attempt to Bite Dems Health Care in Butt

It is beginning to look like the Democrats, and specifically those who are affectionately known as Blue Dog Democrats, are an even bigger threat to a meaningful health care overhaul than are those pitiful, nay saying Republicans. As Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize-winning economist who writes for the New York Time,s pointed out, they claim they are afraid of spending the taxpayer’s money, but look how quickly they ratified Bush’s Tax Cuts for the rich back in 2001, and of course they were in lock step with Bush every step of the way during his misguided run up to the invasion of Iraq two years later. So much for the myth of Blue Dog frugality.

Mr. Krugman also explains why health care can’t be marketed like bread or TVs in his piece entitled, “Why markets can’t cure healthcare.” It makes fascinating reading from one who knows from whence he speaks. His words may be found here

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Pathetic “Birthers”

And how about that string of pathetic Republicans who when asked if they support the birthers who question the president’s American birth, say they really aren’t sure, or the president needs to release the documents, or some such claptrack? I mean how much documentation do they think they need? The birth certificate shows a Hawaiian birth, and the local newspaper even printed an announcement at the time of the birth. Nutcase closed! Exclamation Point!

The Daily Beast published four mostly Republican writers, with their take on the nonsensical fad, including John Batchelor on Republican Incoherence, Mark McKinnon on Obama’s all-American story, Samuel P. Jacobs on five birther myths debunked, and Benjamin Sarlin on presidential conspiracy theories through the years. A page linking to these articles may be found here!

The “birthers” only supporter on CNN is Lou Dobbs. Even before he began touting “birthers” I broke my CNN evening addiction, defecting to MSNBC. Not that Chris Matthews is particularly soothing, but I find I agree with him a helluva lot more than I agree with Dobbs, and my evening meal goes down easier with Matthews on the tube. The politically activist website is urging CNN to do likewise with Mr. Dobbs. Speculation is that Dobbs is supporting something so outlandish to buoy up his ratings, which have been going steadily south. But according to Felix Gillette in the New York Observer this is not the case. Mr. Dobbs' audience has decreased 15 percent in total viewers and 27 percent in the 25-54 demographic group since the start of the controversy. The full Observer story may be found by clicking here! §

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A Public Enemy Cover

Like father, like son they say. My youngest son, Joel Alan Badeaux, loves music, and like me, taught himself guitar and proceeded to perform many of his favorite songs for his tape recorder. Many years later he has upgraded the songs on his tapes using the latest music processing applications and his iMac computer. Then he made himself a video of one of the songs (which also stars Bruce Lee as the Green Hornet) and rifled it up to both YouTube and to his newly created MySpace page, because if you are a musician in this day and age you make a video to go along with one of your songs.

YouTube makes it easy for bloggers to embed their videos so that we can include it in our blog. And so we embed Joel’s song for your listening pleasure. The Song is his cover of “You’re Gonna Get Yours” by Public Enemy, and when he is not fine tuning his tapes Joel is a doctor in residency in Phoenix, Arizona.

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You can find nine more of Joel’s covers at his MySpace page here! And if you click here you can play the video on Joel’s YouTube page where it lives, and playing it from there will add to his visitor count.§

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Confrontation on the Front Porch


Summing Up GatesGate

Journalist Leonard Pitts Jr. writing in the Miami Herald, pretty well summed up the real issues in GatesGate. We quote him below:

Please take a good look at Dr. Henry Louis Gates.

He is 5-foot-7, weighs 150 pounds, wears glasses and uses a cane. His legs are of unequal length, his mustache and goatee are gray. He is 58 years old and looks it.

It's important to see Gates — scholar, author, documentarian, Harvard University professor and African-American man — because that's what Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass. police department apparently did not do in the July 16 confrontation that has ignited debate about racial bias in the U.S. “justice” system. For the three of you who do not know: the incident began when Gates, returning home from a trip to China, found his front door jammed. When he and his driver tried to force it, a neighbor, thinking it a burglary in progress, did the right thing and called police. Crowley responded, finding the driver gone and Gates inside.

Here the stories diverge quite substantially, the police claiming that Gates refused Officer Crowley’s order to step outside, that he initially refused to identify himself, and became belligerent, calling the white officer Crowley a racist, and saying he didn’t know who he was messing with. On the other hand Gates says he promptly produced his driver's license and Harvard ID, that the officer refused to provide his name and badge number, and that he could not have yelled anything because he has a severe bronchial infection.

And so an overwhelming number of whites accept Officer Crowley’s version of the story, while a virtual totality of blacks (most probably joined by hispanics) most of whom have experienced being stopped by police themselves, sympathize with Prof. Gates.

I have to admit I join them in sympathizing with Prof. Gates. He had a right to be grumpy when Officer Crowley demanded that he step outside. Columnist Pitts summed things up as follows:

If Gates was loud and agitated, common sense says Crowley should've simply removed the source of the agitation — himself. Problem solved.

Instead, he called for backup (!) and took Gates into custody. And if Gates looked like a lawbreaker to James Crowley, well, to me he looks like former Los Angeles Lakers star Jamaal Wilkes, pulled over because the tags on his car were “about to” expire, like clean-shaven, 6-foot-4 businessman Earl Graves Jr. detained by police searching for a mustachioed 5-foot-10 suspect, like Amadou Diallo, executed while reaching for his wallet.

And like me, with hands up and a rifle trained on my chest by an officer who later claimed he stopped me in that predominantly white neighborhood for a traffic violation.

Because I look like Henry Louis Gates, he looks like Jamaal Wilkes, and we all look like some dangerous, predatory black man intent on mayhem. So there is no shock here — only a sobering reminder that the old canard is, at some level, true.

We all look alike.

Officer Crowley, who once unsuccessfully tried to revive black Celtics basketball star Reggie Lewis, and who teaches a course to other officers about racial profiling, is undoubtedly not consciously prejudiced, and resented Prof. Gate’s characterizing him so. But Officer Crowley obviously suffers from that malady shared by most, if not all police officers everywhere. His handcuffs hang white hot from his belt, and be you black, white, yellow or brown, the good sergeant’s “uppity” level is set to trip at zero.§

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Pirate Bay Sale Dead in the Water

Torrent Freak, the web authority on the state of bit torrent, reports that the proposed sale of the Pirate Bay to the Global Gaming Factory is pretty well fantasy. GGF was supposed to be raising millions to afford the sale, but according to Wayne Rosso, formerly CEO of Grokster who was involved with GGF recently, this is unlikely to happen.

“I don’t think there’s going to be any money raised with GGF’s current (lack of) plans,” Rosso told TorrentFreak. Besides Rosso and his partners, the people who were supposed to finance the acquisition were also misinformed.

When confronted with the news, a Pirate Bay insider said they would give GGF a week to get insurance from the investors, otherwise the deal is off. Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde told us that he doesn’t know what will happen to the Pirate Bay in the future, when the deal is off the table. Time will tell. Full details are available from the Torrent Freak which lives here

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Gaming the Rorschach

Is it possible to game the Rorschach tests? Psychologists don’t want to know. An almost violent dispute is being raged between practitioners and the online resource Wikipedia. Noam Cohen in the N.Y. Times reports on the problem here!

Rorschach Card #1


Briefly what has happened is this. The ten famous inkblot plates created by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach for his book “Psychodiagnostik,” published in 1921, are clearly out of copyright protection.

In the last few months, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been engulfed in a furious debate involving psychologists who are angry that the 10 original Rorschach plates are reproduced online, along with common responses for each. For them, the Wikipedia page is the equivalent of posting an answer sheet to next year’s SAT.

They are pitted against the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia’s users, who share the site’s “free culture” ethos, which opposes the suppression of information that it is legal to publish.

In June James Heilman, an emergency-room doctor from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, posted images of all 10 plates to the bottom of the article about the test, along with what research had found to be the most popular responses for each.

“I just wanted to raise the bar — whether one should keep a single image on Wikipedia seemed absurd to me, so I put all 10 up,” Dr. Heilman said in an interview. “The debate has exploded from there.”

Psychologists have registered with Wikipedia to argue that the site is jeopardizing one of the oldest continuously used psychological assessment tests.

While the plates have appeared on other Web sites, it was not until they showed up on the popular Wikipedia site that psychologists became concerned.

“The more test materials are promulgated widely, the more possibility there is to game it,” said Bruce L. Smith, a psychologist and president of the International Society of the Rorschach and Projective Methods, who has posted under the user name SPAdoc. He quickly added that he did not mean that a coached subject could fool the person giving the test into making the wrong diagnosis, but rather it would “render the results meaningless.”§

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Weed to Schwarzenegger, Tax Me!

According to syndicated columnist Froma Harrop, (whose full column you can view here!) legalizing marijuana would save billions of dollars, and bring in billions more in tax revenue. She reports that the State of California has legalized medical marijuana, its cannabis crop is valued at $17 billion a year, and people there smoke pot openly. But the state can't collect a penny of revenues from the enormous enterprise.

As California faced budget Armageddon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for “a debate” on the potential of tapping marijuana as a source of tax revenues. That's all he can do, because federal law still criminalizes marijuana use.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron has already calculated the sort of revenues California and other states could see were marijuana taxed like cigarettes and alcohol. California's taxes would easily top $100 million a year.

But that's the least of it. Miron puts California's costs of enforcing the marijuana ban — policing, the courts, jail time — at $981 million a year. Nationally, legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion a year on drug-war spending, according to Miron. And it could raise $6.2 billion annually in tax revenues.

Miron is a libertarian who sees all drug prohibition as interfering with people's private lives. But he well understands the politics that stop politicians from taking the no-brainer position on marijuana.

“Democrats know that the potheads are going to vote for them anyway,” he told me, “and the people on the other side who care about this stuff know that this is really a big deal.” If marijuana were legalized, and the sky didn't fall in, many drug laws would crack.

Here’s Little Eddy’s take on the great Marijuana Smoke Out. Cannabis is a common weed which grows all over the world. Unlike the lies that have be perpetuated against it, smoking marijuana is not in the least addictive. On the other hand, what is addictive as hell is tobacco, which is a major cause of lung cancer and does all sorts of collateral damage to your lungs and blood pressure, and the smoking of which of course is perfectly legal although these days it is taxed to the high heavens.

Marijuana does mess with your mind, but so does alcohol in its various forms, and though alcohol actually slows reaction times and clouds the brain, marijuana is known to improve reaction times for the experienced user. The 1960’s Presidential study of Cannabis actually found that, unlike alcohol, experienced users driving while high actually improved their driving ability. Although the study was conducted by established scientists using well established scientific parameters, the results so differed from the established myths that the politicians who ordered the study including President Johnson fervently believed, they were so upset with the results that they had their Science Director denounce the study.

In its use marijuana actually has more than a few positive outcomes. For one thing it improves the taste of food. For another it allows your mind to separate music linearly, and makes listening to music a more vivid experience. And best of all (and this is the primary reason nothing is going to happen to decriminalize it any time soon) pot makes you see through a politician’s bullshit. Like nothing I’ve ever experience, pot lets you weigh politicians words with a mountain sized grain of salt.

Not that pot is likely to be decriminalized, much less legalized, any time soon. Law enforcement treasures each and every illegality on the books. And of course a Congress filled with hypocrites of both stripes would probably die before they would consider decriminalizing marijuana, much less make pot legal.

Perhaps Governor Schwarzenegger should consider what Texas Governor Good Hair (Rick Perry) threatened to do recently, that is secede from the Union. I hear from a noted Alaskan Palintologist that there’s an entire organization in our northern most state dedicated to the proposition of secession.

Ms. Harrop’s latest column debunks the latest corporate crazies ad debunking health care reform. The one denoting an evil plot to save money by knocking off the elderly. Though nuts, the charges have gotten so much attention that someone has to actually say, “No, they're not killing Grandma. For the full story direct your cursor and click here

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And to misquote the sorely missed Walter Cronkite, that’s the way the world looks to us this week. Not exactly inspiring we’ll be the first to admit. But lets face it, the country if nothing else is diversified. Cluttered with birther crazies, plus the Becks, OReilly’s, and Hannity’s, at least we still have a choice of whether to watch or listen to them or not. Who would have it any other way?

As for us you can find us atop the same soapbox ranting a different set of critiques next week at this very same URL. Join us if you are so inclined. Meantime bye now, and don’t fail to let your congress person know how you feel about health care reform.

The Real Little Eddy

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