Saturday, September 26, 2009

Blog # 107: Obama, Please Watch Your Back!

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One of the characteristics of my being 83 years old seems to be the sudden dominating importance of taking daytime naps, usually 30 minutes or so after eating a meal. This behavioral change comes as a complete shock to me, as for many years I was completely unable to take daytime naps at all. I guess it’s one of the so-called benefits of age. I will be sitting at my iMac, either encapsulating some pearl of wisdom for my blog, or else perusing the likes of the Daily Beast, the Washington Post or the N.Y. Times when the sudden urge to snooze will sweep over me, and I stumble the two steps over to my “comfy chair,” as Monty Python put it in their Spanish Inquisition skits of years back, where I quickly take off my glasses and shut my eyes.

The Big Three – The leaders of the United States, Great Britain, and France line up to come down heavily on Iran, who evidently was building a nuclear producing facility without informing the I.A.E.A. – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies charge, says Obama doesn’t play nice. – photo: Reuters

Nodding out to the president

Wednesday morning I nodded out listening to Barack Obama’s talk to the United Nations only to wake up thirty minutes or so later with Moammar Khaddafy’s rambling dissertation. I’m not at all sure what his various points were, one minute he was labeling the Security Council the Terrorism Council, and the next he seemed to think the African Council should have a permanent seat on said Terrorism Council. Somewhat surprisingly, he referred to President Obama as “my son” and praised Obama’s speech delivered earlier, telling the world that what Obama had spoken was the truth. I’m not sure how Khaddaffy’s kind words will go over here in the U.S. as feelings are running high against the Libyan leader brought on by the welcome the recently freed Lockerbie bomber, got upon his return to Libya as a hero. Khaddafy was followed that evening by Iran’s controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who repeated his off recited denial of the holocaust and Thursday’s lineup brought us an address by Venezuela’s President, Hugo Chavez.

Chavez had established himself several years ago when he followed George Bush to the UN podium, and confided to all that he was following “the devil” and the odor at the podium was sulphurous. Few American had credited the Venezuelan leader with such a colorful bent for language, but come to think of it, I had noticed a sulfurous smell following many of Mr. Bush’s speeches myself, and I had watched them on television.

This year Chavez congratulated Obama on his election, but expressed fears for his safety. Altogether that made three leaders who had expressed fears for Obama’s safety, Khaddafy bringing it up when he referenced the assassination of John Kennedy. And these most unfriendly to America leaders really have a point. What really elevated our own personal level of concern was a story in Friday’s newspaper written by Mary Foster of the Associated Press that bullet makers cannot keep up with the orders. After all, when you think about it, it isn’t guns, but the bullets they are loaded with, which actually do the killing. The U.S. indelibly proved its Banana Republic bona fides with the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, among others, back in the 1960’s. Could it happen again? You damn right it could, considering the make up of the fringes of that Tea Party bunch, not to mention all those Health Care Shouters. President Obama, even your foes are concerned. Please watch your back.

Speaking of audacity, our President seems to have it in spades with his leadership in attempting to rid the world of the threat of atomic weapons altogether. J.F.K. tried that many years ago, and Barack Obama seems to be following in his footsteps. It will require the U.S. giving up its atomic weapons too, but our testing the bomb on two Japanese cities as World World II was winding down, and the Japanese were already sending out peace feelers, proves to my mind that the United States is no more dependable as a custodian for this infamous weapon than any regime of the right or left would be. The saying goes, “once out it is impossible to put the genie back in the bottle,” but if ever there was a genie needing to be put back in a proverbial bottle, atomic weapons certainly are that genie.

A Personal Health Report

Here’s a short, and hopefully sweet report on the state of my current health. So far, so good, everything seems to be still functioning as ordained. I do have edema (the swelling of the feet), and a while back my doctor gave me a prescription for a pill to take care of it. Because it was labeled “no refills” after it ran out I didn’t renew it and was treated with the spectacle of my feet and ankles and lower legs again swelling up. Because after a time my feet were getting too swollen to make it comfortable to put on my sandals, which I wear in lieu of shoes, I finally renewed the prescription. This time it came back marked 3.0 refills, which I guess is meant to tell me I should continue taking it when the initial supply runs out.

The effect of the pills is rather weird. Within a day or two of restarting it the pill begins its work. It starts its slimming process at the toes, and begins to work its way from there. How strange to see an inch or two of each of your feet return to their normal look while the rest remains swollen. I’ve been taking the pills for a few weeks now, and my feet have just about returned to normal, the swelling having retreated to my ankles. My son Joel, the guitar playing MD whose cover of Public Enemy’s “You’re Gonna Get Yours” recently got him posted on the Public Enemy website, and got him a whole lot of extra views because of that placement, proves that he knows from which he speaks. (If you have not yet availed yourself of the pleasure of accessing Joel’s video can view his YouTube page from here, where you can rather quickly make up for that deficiency.)

At any rate, Joel the doctor tells me that my condition is caused by my heart not being up to its job these days of properly circulating my bodily fluids. A quick google of the word edema confirmed Joel’s diagnosis. One of the characteristics of old age, my friends, is suddenly finding out that your body is not performing some function it previously performed flawlessly, and if you’re lucky you can make up the difference taking some pill or other, once again rebalancing your body’s chemistry. Most of my life I have traveled drug free, but now all of a sudden each night I have to take a bunch of pills as if my life depends on them. And I suppose it probably does. At least at my age you take what you doctor orders, since failure to do so can bring on another one of those hospital visits you so dread.

Last Week’s Camp Reminisces Vanish

Recently I have come back in contact with some of the principles in my camp days of long ago, and I wrote a nice piece for last week’s blog remembering a few of my camp experiences. Only on the morning I was to post my blog I found that what I had written had completely vanished. Not a trace could I find. I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to open my blog of last week, only to discover that everything I had written about the three New England camps I had worked for, had somehow gone up in a bit of electronic smoke.

To tell you the truth, I still have no clear idea as to what exactly had happened to that hard day’s night’s worth of work, except I must have stupidly neglected to properly save it. Otherwise I can see no excuse for it simply vanishing.

Because it was Saturday morning, and I needed to post a new blog, I brought up two pieces from an early blog post, one telling where my handle, Little Eddy, comes from, and the other being a revue of Michael Moore’s incredibly important film, Sicko. I figure reposting the revue was very relevant at this point, given the flack the Republicans are giving Obama over his attempts to reform health care.

Believe me folks, it is the Republicans who are hitting foul balls about Health Care reform. It sounds like a ridiculous activity for a party which needs to attract voters, except when you remember that Republicans represent only power and money, not ordinary people. And Health Care power and money are screaming “we’re doing fine with what we’ve got“ – and “change no, not one iota of change for us, thank you very much.” And Republicans are quite good at using their primary weapon, which is the spreading of fear and panic. In this case they’re trying to get John Q. Citizen all hot and bothered about the money Obama’s plans will spend bringing health care to the unwashed masses. Republicans worry a lot about Democratic taxing and spending, as they see every dime of money wasted on the common citizenry to be money deprived for their sponsors, the wealthy and powerful. But they remain notoriously quiet about what will happen if there is no true health care reform, for that is the continual escalation of the price of health care in an unregulated industry until the point that no employer or self-employed person will be able to afford it, only the wealthy, and your Congressman, will be able to afford it.

However, enough about politics for now. This week I would like to make yet another attempt to reminisce about my children’s summer camp days, and this time I swear I will take better care of the product of my musings. Like at this very moment I have saved this piece to my desktop, and after each new part of it I will save it ever again.

Growing up in Houston, I had never gone to a summer camp myself. We don’t have very many of them down here in Texas, it’s too hot, there’re are too many mosquitoes, and only churches and athletic groups seem to sponsor children’s camps. I had a junior high school gym teacher try to recruit me for his basketball camp one summer, but my parents wouldn’t go for it.

When I left radio announcing in the 1950’s I really flung myself into learning the guitar, and later the 5-string banjo. I wrote a breezy letter to Pete Seeger at one point ordering his banjo manual, and got a friendly letter back from him, as well as the manual. Later that year my sister Mary and I drove 900 miles (sounds like a Peter, Paul, and Mary song, doesn’t it?) to Oklahoma City to hear a Weavers concert which featured Pete. A month or two later I opened the Houston Post one Sunday morning to discover that the Weavers were in Houston, they had opened an engagement at the Shamrock Hotel here. I lent Pete my car during that period, and he and John A. Lomax, Jr. did some folksong collecting at a nearby Texas prison.

A year or so later I traveled to Beacon, N.Y. to spend the summer at Pete’s place. He was traveling at the time, but I got to know his wife, Toshi, and his three children, Danny, Mika, and Tinya. And after a time Pete himself came back, and I was able to take a banjo lesson or two with him. I also met Toshi’s parents Takashi and Virginia Ohta, who worked as the caretakers of the University Settlement Camp down the road from Pete, and at one point I had a job interview there, and was hired as a song leading counselor for the following summer. Thus was my introduction into the world of summer camps.

The University Settlement Camp no longer runs the camp near Beacon, N.Y., but rather offers day camps at three New York locations. - photo from their website which you can access clicking here!

(When I began thinking back to my camp days the first thing I did was to look up all three of the excellent camps I had had the privilege of working for. The University Settlement Camp unfortunately is no longer active, but information about it can be accessed here!)

I have spent a good part of my life working with children, first in the University Settlement House in N.Y.C., and in three children's summer camps, the University Settlement Camp in Beacon, N.Y, Camp Killooleet in Hancock, Vermont, and Blueberry Cove at Tenant's Harbor, Maine. And I spent winters teaching kids and occasionally adults guitar and banjo in N.Y.C. and in Houston. I didn't make much money at it, all my life I seem to have been allergic to anything which had any real potential for financial gain. It was a lucky thing that when I was a kid my mother had taken in her Aunt Nina Harper who when she died left my mother, her brother, and sister Calumet Plantation across the river from Baton Rouge, La. Selling my share of it in the year 2000 was the only thing that has given me an income for retirement.

At any rate, thanks to Toshi Seeger and her parents, Takashi and Virginia Ohta, I was introduced to the Settlement Camp directors and got hired for the following summer. And thus began my twenty two year career in New England children’s summer camps.

The University Settlement Camp was three three-week trips of around a hundred and twenty children from age seven through fourteen. They were a blend of full paying middle class kids blended with scholarship children from the Settlement neighborhood in New York. About forty counselors guided the campers, and their ranks were aided by around forty work campers whose parents had paid to have them come to the camp for the full summer.

In my first year the work camp had several treasures in it. Two of them, the 15 year old Kossoy twins, gave me the best gift of all, for they taught me two songs, the Ship Titanic and Sipping Cider (Through a Straw), which I was able to parley into many years of camp singing hits. From another work camper, Danny Bernstein, I learned the song Anne Boleyn, (whose chorus went, “with her ‘ead tucked underneath her arm, she walked the bloody tower, with her head tucked underneath her arm, at the midnight hour) the perfect camp song for a nighttime campfire, and particularly one featuring ghost stories.

Singing was an activity at the Settlement Camp which camp groups attended during daytime activity periods, right along with other established activities like shop, archery, horseback riding, etc. And after dinner each night the entire camp met for a group sing. After my first summer there the camp invested in building a brand new singing area with bleachers for the campers, and a stage from which to lead singing and produce camp productions.

I found the 5-string banjo the most effective instrument for backing up group singing, as it had an electric quality which cut through the sound of the group to set the tempo of the song. And it had a bright, sparkling sound which inspired a group to sing. The Camp’s rebuilt music area had a decorative trellis which backed up our singing, one covered in flowers of many kinds. And flowers are great attracters of bees and wasps. And so it was not unusual to be playing along, my right hand pounding a beat, when suddenly one or more bees or wasps would be crawling up my arm. This was befuddling for a day or two, but I soon discovered that bees and wasps must like music, for they never once stung me. And so I got quite used to keeping my beat with one or more insects of the stinging variety taking the measure of my arm. Some of the campers used to be quite surprised and concerned to see this.

The Settlement Camp turned out to be an ideal way to break into the job of summer counseling children, for we managed to put into a three week trip which other camps do in a full camp season. And there were three different trips per summer. However, the Settlement Camp’s methods of discipline left something to be desired. I found that out during my third summer there. In addition to song leading, I like all other counselers, was assigned to a cabin of boys. Each cabin had two counselors. As the third week of that summer neared the end, one or more of my campers had carved designs on the window sill of our cabin. This brought on the ire of the camp director, who after unsuccessfully trying to get the culprit exposed, declared that the group would be quarantined to the cabin until either someone ‘fessed up or the end of camp came. And the powers that be were adamant, even though they well knew that many of these boys lived by a street code which would prevent them from ratting on their friends. In short my offending group spent the final five days of the trips sequestered to the cabin, only leaving for meals.

I had several intense discussions with the powers that be at the camp, who remained adamant, and after my group spent its final week that summer restricted to the bunk, the whole exercise culminated with my applying to another camp at the end of that summer, Killooleet in Hancock, Vermont, which was owned and operated by Pete Seeger’s older brother John. And as I suspected, discipline there was handled in a very different manor.

Two campers walk towards the big tree on the Killooleet campus. Photo courtesy the Killooleet website.

Killooleet had been started by a Dalton teacher named Margaret Bartlett, and was presently owned and operated by two Dalton teachers, John and Eleanor Seeger. And yes, I found out that discipline was administered in entirely different way from the Settlement Camp. For instance, in my first year I had a group of seven-year-old boys who were just discovering the joy of using swear words. In fact, they seemed to be doing it to shock other groups of campers with their language discoveries. As a result the camp management decided that when the boys felt they had a swearing session coming on we counselors were to take them deep into the woods where they could swear to their heart’s content, while offending no one in the process. After only a couple of days of such isolation, the boys discovered that being obnoxious was a lonely occupation, and mended their ways so as to be able to rejoin the rest of the camp.

Swearing can be a rewarding pastime even for older boys, however. A year later I had a group of thirteen/fourteen year olds. One night one boy was being particularly obnoxious. He was berating another boy without letup. Finally, I could take it no longer, and went over to him and said in my most grating voice, “Henry, why don’t you shut the hell up, you’re being a major PISS-ANT.” The boy stopped in his tracks, and turned to face me. His face lit up like a Christmas tree, his smile running from ear to ear. “Damn,” he said, “piss-ant. I never heard that word before. Thank you!” And he deferred to me for the rest of that summer.

John and Ellie were remarkable singers in their own right, their repertoire being Broadway show tunes. They had two song leaders when I first came, and the first few Friday night sings were very competitive evenings indeed. It was as if we were thrown together and may the best song leader win. And after three weeks had passed, John and Ellie made their decision on who would lead the Friday night Sings, and they announced it by giving the couple who had being doing the song leading Fridays off. Several years later, when I was into teaching photography and a new young man was leading the singing, John and Ellie gave me Fridays off.

Horseback riding campers on a day trip stop long enough to enjoy the Vermont scenery. Photo courtesy the Killooleet website.

An aside here, the father of a Camp Killooleet camper named Karen Mogelescu headed a company call Dutch Masters cigars, and was a great fan of Ernie Kovacs whose company sponsored Kovac's tv programs. And I too was a great fan of Kovacs, I felt he was the comic genius of the black and white television screen.

On the visiting weekend we used to talk extensively about Kovacs. And he always brought me Dutch Master cigars, which I smoked, though I preferred smoking cigarette sized Trends at the time. Speaking of parents and Killooleet, I can't pass go without telling aother couple of anecdotes.

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One summer at Killooleet I had a camper named David Bloomgarten whose father was a well known Broadway producer with a big hit show at the time. David was homesick, in fact, he was the most downtrodden, worried looking kid I have ever known. Oddly enough, his younger brother was also a Killooleet camper, and he was an outgoing, happy camper. But David was always walking around with his chin scraping the ground, no matter what, and always seemed to fervently wish he was someplace else.

We had a local doctor, Dr. Huntington, who examined the campers when they were ill. One day when David wasn’t feeling well, he had to see the doctor, who he presented with his usual long face. Dr. Huntington, in order to establish some kind of rapport with this frowning kid, asked David what his dad did for a living. David, with the closest thing to enthusiasm he had yet to exhibit, told the doctor that his father was a Broadway producer, and he had a hit show running on Broadway at the time.

"Yes," said Dr. H., "what did he produce?"

"A Most Happy Fella!" was David's answer. Dr. H. did a double take. David’s father did indeed produce the Broadway show. However in real life he seemed to have produced A Most Unhappy Fella.

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Killooleet’s Most Famous Camp Parent . . .

Speaking of camp parents, during my six year stint at Killooleet perhaps our most famous visiting parent was Danny Kaye, whose daughter Deena was a camper. She was eight at the time and if memory serves she was in my sister Mary's cabin for at least one of her several years there. Anyway Deena's mother Sylvia Fine, and her daddy Danny Kaye, both came up to see Deena during her first year, but they came at different times. Ms. Fine, who was Kaye's writer and manager as well as his wife, was an interesting person, but nothing compared to the excitement that Danny Kaye brought when he visited the camp later in the summer. Kaye went out of his way to be a most obliging camp parent. When I first saw him he was playing ping pong with a boy camper outside the main house, and after the game when he left the boy turned to another boy and said, "Geez, he looks so old. He looks old enough to be my father." Pretty astute call, that one, since Danny Kaye was the father of an eight year old camper. Danny didn't look anywheres near his age in his movies, however. It's amazing what miracles a little pancake makeup and a skilled makeup artist can wrought.

Later that night Danny Kaye patiently sat through the longest and most boring camp talent show I have ever witnessed. He managed to breathe a little life into the show about three and a half hours into it after camp owner Ellie Seeger asked him if he would care to perform for the camp. At this daughter, Deena, was embarrassed to the point of mortification, and left the auditorium to stand alone outside in the night air, but Danny snapped his fingers and gave a wonderful sing-along version of "Dem Bones, dem Bones, dem Dry Bones" that had the roof rocking, and which had finally succeeded in breathing a little life into that completely dead show.

I spent six very happy years at Killooleet. That part of Vermont is like a Kodachrome postcard come to life. And Camp Killooleet is a truly idyllic summer camp experience, the children coming mostly from upper middle class families, and mostly from New York City.

Two years later when I was staying over with Pete and Toshi Seeger after Killooleet, I accompanied Pete down to the Settlement Camp, as he was having a sing for the entire camp on the lawn outside the camp's main building. I was telling Sol Eschenazi, who was the camp’s director, that I did indeed find a more pliable form of discipline at Killooleet. We were in the large building which served as the caretaker’s home when Charles Cook, the director of the Settlement House in N.Y. and of the Camp, came in and told Toshi's father Takashi Ohta that he was wasn't feeling well. He looked exceedingly gray around the gills and Takashi phoned the camp's doctor, who came poste haste. As the sounds of Pete’s and the campers singing filled the evening air, and as the doctor was taking his blood pressure, Charles Cook died of heart failure. (Cook wasn't the only person to die this way, Gene Roddenbery, the creator of Star Trek, also died while having his blood pressure taken.)

Someone scribbled a note to Pete to move the children up the hill so they wouldn't see the hearse as it came for Mr. Cook’s body. And Pete was quick to comply. He began playing This Land is Your Land on his banjo as he led the two hundred plus children, counselors and work campers singing their way up the hill. In leading those children up that hill Pete showed that night as he had shown many times before in his storied career, that he truly was a Pied Piper.

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Killooleet created an atmosphere that was larger than life. It’s children were bright and creative, and working there was extremely pleasant. I enjoyed it so much that I talked my younger sister Mary into working there also, and together we worked there for five or six years. I remember my second summer there, which turned out to be Mary’s first, was an unbelievably cold and rainy summer. And one camper had come up with a case of the whooping cough, a malady that used to be deadly in New England, but these days because people are kind of immune to it, it isn’t quite so serious. But one counselor who happened to have the infected camper in her group, got infected herself, and because she taught dance she unknowingly infected many of the camp’s girls. And that summer showed the real danger of the closeness of living together. For over half of the campers that summer, boys as well as girls, came down with the whooping cough. It was so bad with infected kids constantly coughing up phlegm, that for the first time camp groups could no longer eat their meals together. The lunch room had to be divided between whoopers tables and non whoopers tables.

Life magazine had a two page headline that summer saying 7 Whoopers Survive Flight to Texas. Whoopers of course, referred to whooping cranes which were an endangered species. However, one camper cut out the headline and put it up in the Main House, for all the camp to see, to take cheer in the fact that at least 7 whoopers had survived.

You would think that having a physically difficult summer like that would dampen the enthusiasm for camp, but it doesn’t work that way. Our experience had been that much more intense thanks to the hardship, and I think most every camper and counselor couldn’t wait for the following summer to roll around so that they do it all over again, hopefully in warmer, drier weather.

Killooleet is still going strong in Hancock, Vt., and is being operated these days by John and Ellie’s daughter Kate and her husband. Ellie died in 2003, but John is still there, and son Tony has a place nearby I have heard. Killooleet’s website is here! and a further click here! will take you to a Memorial Page for Ellie Seeger, a page which features photographs of many of the persons who have served the camp over the years.

However, in my case after six years working in idyllic circumstances I got the itch to work in a camp with a younger children, and I made contact with Henry and Bess Haskell, of Tenants Harbor, Maine. Next week I’ll tell you more of my camping adventures.

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And so this week’s blog settles into the sunset. We’ll tell you more of our camp memories as next week comes around, plus more of our comments on this and that. We do invite you to come back for that. Meantime, bye now. Take it easy, but take it.

The Real Little Eddy

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blog # 106: The Death of Decorum

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An MTV Awards Moment: Kanye West snatches the microphone from 14 year old Taylor Swift to tell the world that the award Ms. Swift is holding should have been given to Beyonce, who in Kanye’s estimation, had made the greatest music video of all time. The action earned West the designation of “jackass” from President Obama. Photo from

Watching Decorum Being Decimated

What is this country coming to? Joe Wilson shouts “You Lie!” during the President’s address to the joint houses of Congress, formerly mild mannered tennis star Serena Williams in no uncertain terms threatens to shove a tennis ball down a line woman’s throat, and Kanye West at the MTV awards grabs the microphone from the best video winner, 14 year old Taylor Swift, and announces to the world that Beyonce should have won the prize for releasing the best music video ever made, causing the President of the United States who was being interviewed by ABC at the time to refer to West as a “jackass.” Which would probably be the one statement from the President of late that much of the free world would agree with.

Then last night former President Jimmy Carter tells the world what many of us had already figured out for ourselves, that racism is behind things like Wilson’s shouted comment and signs at the recent tea party march on Washington which depicted Obama with a Hitler mustache, and stating that “The Zoo has an African Lion, the U.S. has a lying African,” and equating Obama Care with a picture depicting the President as a witch doctor. Of course the Republican party could not admit for a minute that there was even the slightest bit of racism involved, after all racism is so yesterday. To repudiate President Carter and attempt to disassociate itself from the racist tag the Republican Party sent out its number one clown, the recently reincarnated Uncle Tom who masquerades as Michael Steele, and he offered what he fondly hoped would be the final word. According to him, racism has nothing to do with the outrage conservatives are expressing at the rallies, people are simply revolting against Obama’s policies.

Photo from

Isn’t it just super the way Michael Steele nails everything with a conservative purity which is positively unparalleled? Like fun it is. One might draw parallels with the late William F. Buckley, except that Mr. Steele and Mr. Buckley aren’t even in the same universe. Conservative or no, Mr. Buckley could think and reason. And he had another characteristic not shared by Mr. Steele, he could be honest. Steele doesn’t sound reasonable at all, his words are only reasonable if you weigh them against those of the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. Of course when weighed against those two his words sound like the epitome of elegance and reason. But otherwise, it is thumbs down.

The problem many of us see is that Barack Obama is really getting too far into his role playing of Clark Kent, while for the sake of the future of our health care many of us feel that he must don his Superman cape and start strong arming Red Dog and Blue Dog alike. We suggest the Obama administration take a good, hard look at that excerpt from Bill Maher’s HBO program that we embedded last week. In the straight talking spirit of George Carlin, Maher told it like it really is.§

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Dell Hit by N.Y. State for 4 Million

How’s this for computer news? The New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Dell Computers and its subsidiary, Dell Financial Services (DFS), have agreed to pay the Attorney General’s Office of N.Y. $4 million in restitution, penalties and costs to resolve charges of fraudulent and deceptive business practices that scammed consumers across New York State.

The settlement follows a decision of the New York Supreme Court, Albany County, which sustained Attorney General Cuomo’s claims that Dell had engaged in fraud, false advertising, deceptive business practices, and abusive debt collection practices. The court’s decision came as a result of the original lawsuit filed by Cuomo’s Office, which charged that Dell engaged in bait and switch advertising with respect to its “no interest” financing promotions, misled consumers to believe they had qualified for promotional financing, failed to adequately disclose the terms of its “next day” service contracts and failed to provide consumers with warranty service and promised rebates.

Other than the four million and non-existing services everything is peachy-keen and positively hunky dory in the land of the Round Rock, Texas computer manufacturer. Perhaps that’s why Dell stock was 16.92 +0.35‎ (2.11%‎) Sep 16 4:00pm ET, after hours 16.85‎ -0.07‎ (-0.41%‎)

Meanwhile Apple stock: 181.87 +6.71‎ (3.83%‎) Sep 16 4:00pm ET
181.87‎ after hours +0.00‎ (0.00%‎)§

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Cougars Sighted on Microsoft Campus

As if Microsoft didn’t have enough problems on its horizon, what with its new, improved operating system, OS 7, going up against Apple’s Snow Leopard, for the second day in a row a cougar was sighted on the Microsoft campus. Our friends at Seattle’s TechFlash published this story, which you can access here! A note to staffers gives tips on what to do if you see the cougar.

For the second day, Global Security has received an unconfirmed report of a possible cougar sighting, this time near building 32.

Microsoft Security will conduct frequent patrols of all wooded areas of the campus, and will work with the State Department of Fish & Wildlife and other experts to assess the situation and provide further updates, as appropriate. In the meantime, we ask that all employees exercise appropriate caution, particularly in remote or wooded areas of campus. If you meet a cougar:

-- Never approach a cougar. Although cougars will normally avoid a confrontation, all cougars are unpredictable. Cougars feeding on a kill may be dangerous.

-- Always give a cougar an avenue of escape.

--Stay calm. Talk to the cougar in a confident voice.

--Pick all children up off the ground immediately. Children frighten easily and their rapid movements may provoke an attack.

--Do not run. Try to back away from the cougar slowly. Sudden movement or flight may trigger an instinctive attack. Do not turn your back on the cougar. Face the cougar and remain upright.

--Do all you can to enlarge your image. Don't crouch down or try to hide. Pick up sticks or branches and wave them about.

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Boiling Down Apple’s Sales Pitch to Adjectives

A hilarious new YouTube video strips all but the adjectives away from Apple’s recent Music Event letting you get straight to the nitty-gritty of Apple’s message. Click on the arrow below to view what’s left.§

Mary Travers Dies at 72

Mary Travers, who began singing with Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey when she was still a teenager, has died. She succumbed from leukemia, the same malady from which folk artist Mike Seeger passed recently. Travers began her singing career with a group called the Song Swappers who backed up Pete Seeger on an album and a couple of concerts. But it was when she joined in singing with Peter and Paul that her career took off in a meteoric rise. Their first album produced two hit songs, one of which was Pete Seeger’s and Lee Hays’ “If I Had a Hammer” which became an anthem for racial equality and won them grammys for best folk recording, and best performance by a vocal group. Through the years they had a number of other hit songs, including “Lemon Tree”, John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon”.)

Bandmate Peter Yarrow said that in her final months, Travers handled her declining health with bravery and generosity, showing her love to friends and family "with great dignity and without restraint." "It was, as Mary always was, honest and completely authentic," he said. "That's the way she sang, too; honestly and with complete authenticity."

Noel "Paul" Stookey, the trio's other member, praised Travers for her inspiring activism, "especially in her defense of the defenseless." "I am deadened and heartsick beyond words to consider a life without Mary Travers and honored beyond my wildest dreams to have shared her spirit and her career," he said.

The group collected five Grammy Awards for their three-part harmony and at one point in 1963, three of their albums were in the top six Billboard best-selling LPs as they became the biggest stars of the folk revival movement.§

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In the Beginning . . .

The remarkable thing about BlogSpot is that you can access every blog you have ever written just by perusing the Archive files to the right of the copy, and clicking a few times. This is how it is supposed to work, but earlier this week when I attempted to access a few of my early blogs I got an interminable message that the blog I was seeking was “loading,” but my patience meter ran out long before the content was brought forward. Then I made an interesting discovery. I had saved several of my early blogs using the Camino browser (Mozilla’s browser especially for the Mac) and I found when I clicked on earlier issues there, they came forth immediately. And so I made a lot of captures of those early blogs, which from time to time, I plan to reprint seeing as how my browsers have locked up trying to get those early blogs from here. (I also tried Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, but nothing seemed to work.)

Anyway, for those who are new around these parts I thought it would be fun to revisit the whys and wherefores of my handle, Little Eddy.

Who Fore Art Thou, Little Eddy

What to write about in this week's blog? “Well,” said the Google BlogGod who is constantly looking over my left shoulder and scratching his head, “why not explain your handle? Give us the story behind Little Eddy?”

Ah, shucks, do you really want to know?

“If I didn’t would I have asked?”

Well, as you can probably guess I am a junior, Edward Raoul Badeaux, Jr. to be precise. As I was growing up at 1805 Fairview in Houston, Texas my mother created my handle in order to make it clear which one of us she was addressing. There was Big Ed (my father) and Little Eddy (me). I didn’t very much like it. I guess to tell you the truth I rather strongly didn’t very much like it. (The little prefixing Eddy was like adding insult to injury especially after I grew two and a half inches taller than my father at 5’10 1/2”, but isn’t that the way of the world, as both of my own sons have topped six feet?)

However, Ma (may a benevolent God rest her soul) truly loved the handle. It did the two things she wanted most, it allowed her to direct her words with specificity, but best of all in her eyes the handle kept me young and manageable. (Ha! So she thought.)

Well, the years have frittered away, I may not be the original creature of habit, but I am certainly an early adopter and an archetype of the first degree. And over time I have finally come to accept the name. Each mention of it keeps the memory alive of that sweet and well meaning lady who once birthed me and then happily hurried off to get back to work. She had her priorities set right. And so now, in my weekly blog, I decided to revert to the moniker I had while growing up. Little Eddy lives again.

The same issue that featured the story of my handle, also featured my revuew of Michael Moore’s brilliant film “Sicko.” Because what it had to say is so important in the face of the present Health Care Reform bill that the Obama administration is trying to get through Congress, we thought it was important to reprint that too.

My Revue of Michael Moore’s Sicko . . .

Sunday afternoon my computer spent several hours with Transmission's bit torrent engine downloading Michael Moore's new film "Sicko." It is by far Moore's most effective film, although I’m afraid the title might turn off some people who would really benefit from seeing the film. For lets face it, this is the one movie that everybody in America would benefit from seeing. Moore lets the people he was interviewing do their own talking. He has examples of people who lost their homes, their fortune, even their lives because of their H.M.O.'s denial of care. He had telling examples of the Canadian system, the English system, and the French system, all of whose hospitals are beautifully free even to non citizens of the country, unlike U. S. hospitals who practically want a complete credit history before they will think about admitting you.

He ended up taking a group of people who had worked at Ground Zero in N.Y.C. in the aftermath of 911 and who are subsequently suffering health problems to Cuba. After failing to get them treatment at the Guantanamo base, he had wanted them to have the same medical help given the prisoners there, Moore then took them to Cuba proper where they got medical treatment at no cost to them whatsoever. They ended their visit at a Cuban fire station, where the firemen saluted and praised them for assisting the firemen in N.Y.C. in the wake of 911. It seems firemen feel a common brotherhood all over the world, even in Cuba.

There are some really heavy ideas floated around in the film, particularly from Tony Benn, an ex-member of the English Parliament, who exposed our current system with unerring clarity. When Moore asked him how the British free health care system came about, he summed it up in a nut shell, "it all began with democracy. What democracy did was move the power from the market place to the polling station. From the wallet to the ballot." He talked about the unemployment in Britain in the thirties, and how the war later brought full employment. He reasoned, "if you can have full employment killing people, why can't you have full employment helping people? Building hospitals, schools, etc. If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people."

Exactly what Franklin Roosevelt had put into practice during the depression here in the United States. Benn went on to explain how a society like ours keeps its people in line, first by getting them heavily in debt, then by keeping them that way. "A demoralized people don't vote, if the poor would vote and put in power people who truly represent their interests, then you would have true democracy."

But by far the most damning testimony to the commercial institutions who administer health care in this country was the repeated exposition of how the Health Maintenance Organizations used denial of care for patient after patient in order to make money for their companies and their stockholders. Moore even graphically shows how such a monstrously perverse system began, under the presidency of Richard Nixon, and thanks to those White House tapes, we hear it in the Trickster’s own voice. And after several stinging examples of testimony by people the industry hired to deny claims telling their stories, it climaxed with the testimony of one Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer for Humana, who in a deathly quiet, tear streaked voice told a Congressional Committee:

“I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1997 as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation which would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did, I saved the company a half a million dollars. And furthermore, this particular act secured my reputation as a good medical director and it insured my continued advancement in the health care field. I went from making $300 a week as a medical reviewer to an escalated six figure income as a physician consultant. And in all my work I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked. And I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was denying payment. I know how managed care maims and kills patients, so I am here to tell you about the dirty work of managed care, and I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper on which I had written that deadly word, denied.”

I am absolutely sure that the so-called Health Care industry will scream "anecdotal evidence" as if real stories are somehow tainted and not truly "scientific." Real people who see the film are likely for the first time to realize just how out of control and basically wrong the health care industry in this country really is. As we said everybody should see this film. Then we should put the Democrats in power in 2008, and demand that they give us a truly universal system of affordable health care.

I say Democrats because it is perfectly obvious that the Republicans won’t do it. They won’t consider a health care system unless the words “for profit” are grafted onto it, and that just doesn't cut it. You can’t run true health care for profit any more than you could run fire fighters for profit or police officers for profit. A for profit system can only make money by taking money in and not paying money out, in other words by denying care to patients, which is exactly what our present system has learned to do so well. And I retch every time that tv commercial comes on where Montel Williams touts about how, "the American Pharmaceutical Industry wants to help." Sure it wants to help, help keep those outrageous profits rolling in while giving lip service to helping a few needy persons pay for their grossly overpriced drugs.

My own case is miniscule compared to the stories in Michael Moore’s film. As a senior citizen I have for two years in a row drifted into what I call the Repugnacant Party's "doughnut hole" under which after a couple of thousand dollars of drug assistance your health care provider is free to cut your prescription assistance to zero. Type in "doughnut hole" into Google and see what you come up with.

Texas HealthSpring is my Medicare provider. During my first trip through the doughnut hole my physician was able to give me enough doctor’s samples of the Eli Lily’s Forteo Pen (treats osteoporosis) to get me through until the new year when my coverage would resume. But the Forteo pen is $700 a month, and after the three months the pen had navigated me right back into that Bermuda Triangle of drug assistance, the infamous doughnut hole.

Is this the kind of help a caring society really wants to give its citizenry, and particularly its elder citizenry? We have been listening to this private enterprise and hate the government crap from ardent Repugnacant loud mouths for the past seven years. As we approach the 2008 elections the American people really need to make an important decision. Do you really want your government to work exclusively for the benefit of the super rich and the giant corporations, and in the process elevate incompetence into a virtual state religion? Think about that for a minute. What kind of man would first relieve the super rich from paying their fair share of taxes and then start a major war? A Republican, who else!

The other choice would be to have your government return to working in the interests of you and me and to resume performing at the best level it can manage in the process? That is the real issue facing Americans. It's so simple a choice, really. But we Americans inevitably get sucked into that silly pipe dream that says, "let the rich make all the money they can, and maybe someday I'll be rich and get to enjoy the privilege."

We never seem to learn. It failed under Coolidge and Hoover, in fact the country damn near went down the tubes after their respective reigns, and when a bunch of starry-eyed followers of Newt the Gingrich started mouthing off about the evils of government we fell for it all over again. I hate to be a disillusionist, but a health care system for profit just doesn't work. Never has, never will.

In case you haven’t noticed the rich don't have a real good track record in benevolence department, in fact they have been known to get downright testy at the slightest mention of the word share, and so the result of our present system is: surprise, surprise? The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and middle class gets a royal screwing as they are left to pay society's bills. If America is to get true health care coverage for all it can only happen through the federal government. There is no other entity in our society that has the power or the will.

“But hey little Eddy, didn't you feel the least bit guilty downloading Mr. Moore's film and viewing it without giving the poor fellow a chance to earn a penny?” No I don't. I don't have a car to go to the movies, nor could I go to a store to buy the dvd if there was dvd to buy. These words are my contribution to Michael Moore’s film. And somehow of all the filmmakers out there, I think Michael Moore would be one to care the least about someone downloading his film. Like the folk musicians I talked about in Eddy Blog #1, the important thing for Michael is that people see his film and seriously consider his ideas. It reminds me of the yippie of years back, Abbie Hoffman, who once wrote a book he titled, "Steal This Book." I'm sure his publisher did a double take when Hoffman presented him with that title. I wouldn't know whether the book was interesting or worth stealing, I didn't steal books back then. Nowadays all he would have to do is put it up on the web and he would get his wish in spades.

I do have a suggestion for Michael Moore, and for all of you who have a broadband internet connection. A check with Amazon showed that the “Sicko” DVD is not out yet, so Michael get to work and release the DVD. In the meantime all you broadbanders out there fire up your web browsers and get on mininova, or Pirate Bay, or any one of the bit torrent search engines still working and download the film. Watch it yourself, then invite your friends over for a Sicko party, just like the Tupperware people do. Watch the movie as a group. Discuss it afterwards, sharing your individual experiences. Then try and arrange for each attendee to hold a Sicko party of his/her very own inviting their own circle of friends. If people can sell plastic doodads to their friends and neighbors, why not health care?

If enough of us did this there is no telling how far we might be able to go towards fixing this broken health care system of ours. You might say, "I'm not sick, this doesn't effect me." But it will effect you, if not tomorrow, then next week or next year or somewhere down the line. Trust me. Getting sick is as inevitable as is our very mortality. You could call this suggestion for Sicko parties little Eddy's prescription for preventive medicine. Prevention from bankruptcy that is, for when you do get sick.§

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And so this week's Little Eddy Blog rides into the sunset. We would like to thank Mary Travers for living and sharing her talent with us, and Michael Moore for sharing his remarkable talents with us. Obviously, push has come to shove in regards to Health Care Reform. Support Obama's reform measures, and even though it is true a weak bill is better than no bill at all, a strong bill, with a public option in place to ensure true competition, is way better than a weak bill. It is worth fighting for.

And that's the way this week went. Mosey back again next week to see what we're into then. Meantime, bye now.§

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blog #105: Visual and Video Time!


President Barack Obama hit one out of the park last Wednesday evening before the joint houses of Congress. And what a pleasure it is to have a president who can both reason, and articulate with passion. Way to go, U.S.

One More Thing . . .

Excellent advice for the Obama administration from Bill Maher.

The Wrath of the Web

By calling President Obama a liar in a joint session of Congress South Carolina’s Joe Wilson earned himself thousands of tweets on Twitter. Courtesy MC Siegler of Tech Crunch, here are a few: “Joe Wilson Spit In Your Beer”, “Joe Wilson Used Your Tax Dollars To Pay His Medical Bills”, and “Joe Wilson Hit Your Car In The Parking Lot And Drove Off Without Leaving A Note”. Then of course they veer into the humorously absurd: “Joe Wilson Ate The Last Slice Of Pizza”, “Joe Wilson Hit On Your Mom”, and our personal favorite, “Joe Wilson Shit In Your Kitchen.” You can discover more when you point your browser here

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He-e-e’s B-a-a-a-a-c-c-c-k!

As I’m sure that all who are interested already know this, Steven P. Jobs was back at the helm of Apple’s music event in San Francisco last Wednesday, Sept. 9. “I’m vertical, I’m back at Apple and I’m loving every day of it,” Jobs said after a rousing standing ovation from the crowd of Apple employees and journalists, who were gathered for the announcement of new products and services related to music.

Sounding just a bit hoarse, Mr. Jobs began the event by discussing the very personal matter of his liver transplant. “I’m very happy to be here, and thank you all,” he said. “As some of you know, five months ago I had a liver transplant. I now have the liver of a mid-20s person who died in a car crash and was generous enough to donate their organs. I wouldn’t be here without such generosity, so I hope all of us can be as generous and elect to be organ donors.” The event consisted of refreshing the iPod line and the look and feel of the iTunes store. And well, if we weren’t the first place you heard it from, I’m pretty well sure we’ll be the last.

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This week’s Blog – Visual with Video

This week we’ve decided to turn our blog into a visual and video showcase. We’ve collected some truly memorable photos and videos for your gratification, and the only question is where to begin. Well, since September 9th marked the release of Rock Band, Beatles edition, and that memorable date also saw the cd release of the entire remastered Beatles catalog, but not the release of the Beatles catalog on iTunes, we figure what better way to begin our video edition than with those very same Beatles. This clip is from their famous Rooftop Concert, which ironically turned out to be their last live performance as a group. The song “I’ve Got a Feeling” is only one click away. (And thanks to the magic of YouTube, if one Beatles song isn’t enough for you, you can access Don’t Let Me Down, Git Back and One After 909 and more from the thumbnails floating at the bottom of the final screen.)§

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The Sweet Smile of a Winner!

At the 2009 U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens, 17 year old Melanie Oudine celebrated a victory over her third Russian conquest of the 2009 U.S. Open, 9th seeded Nadia Petrova. She had previous wins over No. 4 Elena Dementieva and No. 29 Maria Sharapova. "You don't know if she's winning or losing," said her father, John. "She doesn't seem nervous out there — and I don't know where that came from." Ms. Oudine’s magical run ended Wednesday evening under the lights, as she lost to the world’s highest ranked teenager, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.§

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And as Monty Python used to say:
“And Now for Something Completely Different!”

And how different can we be as next we offer you a preview of the new film from our favorite documentary film maker, Michael Moore, he of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Sicko fame. His new movie, opening soon in a Multiplex near you, is called: Capitalism – A Love Story.

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Is Apple’s iPhone a Legitimate Musical Instrument?

That sleek Apple iPhone is a full fledged computer which can wirelessly access the internet, store and play music like an iPod, and, of course, make phone calls. But when Apple opened up the platform to allow developers to create applications for it, it became truly a jack of all trades. And developers have come through with thousands of programs. This week we look at two videos displaying some fascinating apps which turn the iPhone into a serious musical instrument. The first video combines nine musical apps, and in the second one noted keyboardist Jordan Rudess demonstrates one iPhone app, Bebot.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 7, 2009:

The open development platform and touch-screen technology of the devices have spawned a flurry of new musical instruments and tools: digital synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, vocal tuners and even a trombone you play by blowing into the microphone (the latter two were both created by Smule of Menlo Park).

Words can only convey so much about the new applications and how they're being used, so we decided to share our favorites among the many videos out there showing IPhone musicians doing what they do.

This first clip demonstrates what can happen when you get nine IPhone musical apps playing together at the same time: Melodica, Easy Guitar, NLog Synth Free, iRockGuitar Lite, Mobilesynth, Drum Kit Lite, Kalimba Free, Junglist Lite and Bebot.§

Hidan - Timeline Music for iPhone from Paul Higham on Vimeo.

Jordan Rudess, the world-renowned keyboardist of Dream Theater, has made a fascinating video showing of some of the capabilities of one particular iPhone musical app. It is called Bebot, and it is calculated to amaze when you click the arrow below.§

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The Stark Look of Terror

Is it a horse? Or a donkey? At any rate it conjures up a look of sheer terror on the face of the unknown boy in this picture. Since he remains close to the enraged animal one must assume that like a good boy he has his seat belt on. But we bet he wishes he didn’t. – Photo from§

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A Peek at a Camera of Tomorrow

Isn’t that amazing? Imagine being able to refocus the camera after the picture is taken? And to compensate for light and dark extremes while the picture is still inside the camera? The guys in the lab can do it now, in their “Franken-camera.” The question, will the Japanese (and German) camera makers begin to include programable capabilities into our cameras of the future?§

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Mind Boggling Robotics

Isn’t it amazing what they are doing in robotics these days? This video, sent to us by Daniel Badeaux of Seattle, WA., shows some of the incredible things robots are capable of these days.§

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Photoshopping a Lie

We dedicate the publication of this ridiculous but compelling example of a Photoshopped photo to Fox News’ pillar of irresponsibility, Glen Beck. Mr. Beck recently caused the resignation of an Obama staffer named Van Jones because of a petition he had signed some years ago which had accused the Bush/Cheney administration of deliberating causing 9/11 to happen in order to facilitate the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

One could make a reasonable case for Bush/Cheney not paying proper attention to a clear warning it had received well before 9/11, but accusing them of maliciously making it happen is about as stupid as are those right wing nut jobs like Mr. Beck who are spreading lies about Obama and his Health Care Reform. However, stupid or no, the rumor about Bush did take flight, and the photo shown above was created by someone to illustrate the lie of Bush/Cheney deliberately causing 9/11. Note the really malicious smiles on all three, Rumsfield, Cheney, and Bush. It is a rather crude example of the power of Photoshopping several photos together, but we have to admit it made its point. While we would normally not publish such a bald-face lie, these days the way the right wing is freewheeling absurd lies about President Obama, we said, “what the hell?,” and decided to run with it, with a dedication to Fox’s lamest of the lame, Glen Beck. – Photo from§

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And so the video and photography edition of the Little Eddy blog winds down and fades into the sunset. We hope you found something of interest in this week’s offering.

Next week, who knows? Maybe no videos. Maybe more interminable rants concerning Little Eddy Pet Peeves. We never know in advance. Like you, we’ll have to return next week to find out. Meantime, we hope something in this week’s offering made your journey here worth your while. And do come back next week to check out what we have been up to by then. Bye now.§

The Real Little Eddy,

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blog # 104: A Light of Reason

Oval Office Capers – Now and Then

In 2009 Presidential daughter Sascha stalks her famous father as he takes care of the nation’s business. This reminded the BBC of the famous photo of son John Kennedy, Jr. playing under his father’s desk in the same oval office and they combined the two pictures on their website. For more on the story go here!">here!§

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Our Attempt to Shine a Little Light of Reason

Do you know what is wrong with people these days? Well, a number of things, I guess, but in my opinion one of the major faults we collectively have is that we seem to have lost the power to think for ourselves. It’s not entirely our fault, it has to do with the way we were taught in school. Even the well educated, and perhaps especially the well educated, come under this umbrella. The reason: from grade school onwards we are taught to cite authority for anything we propose. And academia is even worse. The implication, of course, is that no matter how ingenious and compelling our reasoning, our own opinion doesn’t matter jackshit, and if we are to propel our point of view forward we have to first cite established authority and go from there.

However not everything in our society is guided by rules citing authority. Take the personal computer industry for instance. The two foremost contributors to this industry, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, were both college dropouts who have been guided by their own observations and intuition rather than following the dictates of authority and tradition. And both have created something which had not been there before. Gates, of course, formed Microsoft and created the world’s most used personal computers’ operating system, and Jobs formed Apple Computer and created not only the first computer with a gui (graphic user interface), but went on to reshape the way music is both played (the iPod), and how music is bought and sold (the iTunes store.) And his newest baby, the iPhone, is presently re-formulating the way cellphones can play both music and video, and access the myriad resources of the internet. Incidentally, in Vanity Fair Magazine’s annual list of the Information Age Powers, Steve Jobs rated second, behind only Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, and he is followed by Jeff Bezos of Amazon. com in 3rd place. Bill Gates wasn’t on this year’s Powers list, but he was ushered into Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame. The complete listings may be found here!

But getting back to our collective insecurity, I feel that among the general population this is what is behind the current drop in the opinion polls that the President is currently suffering. Republicans en masse have decided “to hell with bipartisanship,” the best tactic for their political future is to fight Obama tooth and nail on health care reform. If they can create enough doubt in the American people as to the effectiveness of the President’s program, then they feel they have a good chance of winning back the House in 2010, and perhaps even the Presidency in 2012. And they have well-heeled backing from the Health Insurance Industry which is hell bent to fight any change in the current system, a system which is bringing investors and officers untold riches, but which unfortunately slights many of the people who have paid into the system when they get ill and need support. This kind of Republican opposition had worked like a charm in 1993-94, when it stopped Bill and Hillary Clinton’s attempt at bringing Health Care Reform in its tracks, even bringing the GOP a majority in the House with the 1994 elections. Republicans today having having little to no imagination can only look back for their comfort and inspiration. And in so doing they have reverted to using their favorite tool, the spreading of fear.

They did their damnedest to play the fear card during the 2008 election campaign, but the voters weren’t buying it back then. That’s because the Republican Bush 43 administration, which was not originally elected by a majority of voters, but obtained power in 2000 when the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount which was seeing Bush’s slim majority slip away, then through a fiat announced the Bush/Cheney victory. This questionable victory then saw the birth of the most autocratic regime in modern memory, one which first gave the very rich a tax break, and then went on to spend more money than all of the administrations which had preceded it combined. They managed to do this by starting two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then turning over much of the military’s maintenance to private corporations, like former Halliburton affiliate Kellogg-Brown&Root for kitchen and repair and transportation services, and Blackwater, among others, for security. And needless to say, this kind of corporate maintenance does not come cheap.

Note that there was not a peep from so-called conservative Republicans as Bush/Cheney ran up their mountain of debt. But now when Obama spends money to try and revive our economy, now the Republicans scream foul and chant the mantra of fiscal responsibility.

This economic mess was one that Obama inherited, but being an activist president, unlike a Herbert Hoover, he couldn’t just stand by and wring his hands while the economy went down the tubes, and so he actively got Congress to spend money to help ease the economy. And that of course builds that Bush/Cheney mountain of debt even higher. Never mind that President Obama promises he will not sign a health care reform which adds to the national debt. The Republicans are screaming warnings of a federal government careening out of control, and as a result they have a sizable portion of the electorate quaking in their boots. And so the president’s approval rating plunges, and the Republicans wring their hands with grins plastered all over their faces.

Experts like Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, note that the stimulus is beginning to take effect and the economy is starting to turn around. But, as in all previous recessions, the jobs market trails the general economy. Can Obama, the master teacher, reassure Americans of the soundness of his economic policy. It will help when the jobs market begins to show signs of improvement. And because we are so unused to having to think for ourselves, portions of the American people seem to be swallowing the new line of Republican malarky hook, line and sinker. What a shame it is to see fear once again emerging as a potent Republican tool. We seem to have forgotten Franklin Roosevelt’s prophetic warning, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”

Meantime the President is facing his greatest challenge yet with his Health Care Reform address to both houses of Congress Wednesday night. The noted columnist of the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne Jr. puts forth the interesting notion that the so-called “liberal media” is fueling the present dissatisfaction with Health Care reform by covering only those Town Hall Meeting where shouters rule the day, thereby giving the disruptive right the publicity they crave. Dionne wrote, “The most disturbing account came from Rep. David Price of North Carolina, who spoke with a stringer for one of the television networks at a large town-hall meeting he held in Durham. The stringer said he was one of 10 people around the country assigned to watch such encounters. Price said he was told flatly: "Your meeting doesn't get covered unless it blows up." As it happens, the Durham audience was broadly sympathetic to reform efforts. No "news" there, and therefore no media coverage. Dionne has been recently added to CNN expanded group of pundits, where he is taking no guff from those of the right who try to push their conservative agenda flying in the face of reason. For the entirety of Dionne’s Washington Post column go here

After the 2000 elections when the Supreme Court finally halted the Florida recount and ruled in Bush as our President, Republicans were quick to urge Democrats and all Americans to accept the judgement of the court. And with no little amount of distaste, most of us did. But now, many of these same Republicans are refusing to accept the clear verdict of the 2008 election, thereby refusing to recognize Mr. Obama as president. This bubbles forth in Republican parents’ attempts to block Obama’s speech aimed at inspiring children to work hard and stay in school. And of course it is motivating those of the radical right who scream and break up health care meetings in the hopes of killing any kind of meaningful reform. Democrats reluctantly accepted Bush back in 2000. Radical Republicans need to return the courtesy and accept Obama in 2009. And we all need to learn how to be civil and respectful to one another’s viewpoint for a change. We may be eons apart in our ideology, but as the old saying goes, we are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Or so we were taught to recite in school.


Peacenik – Circa 2009

An unidentified young girl makes an eloquent plea for peace with the famous peace symbol painted on her face. – Photo from

A Happy Birthday to Google’s Blogspot!

A happy birthday is in order for Google’s Blogspot, the service that among many other vastly more important projects, brings you Little Eddy’s weekly rumination. Blogspot is 10 years old. A bit of the story can be found in the Google Blog of which we present two excerpts below. You can access the entire Google blog here!

Much has changed since Blogger was released in August of 1999. Writing about Blogger's founding in his book Say Everything, Scott Rosenberg describes the effect of Blogger simply: "It cleared the obstacles from the path between brain and Web page." As the phenomenon of blogging has grown and evolved over the past ten years, so too has Blogger, adapting to a world of fast-paced communication and allowing millions to tell their stories. When Google acquired Blogger in February of 2003, about 250,000 people visited Blogger per month. Today, that number is more than 300 million.

In our announcement about the Blogger acquisition, we said (somewhat ironically, not in a blog post — the Official Google Blog was still more than a year away): "Blogs are a global self-publishing phenomenon that connect Internet users with dynamic, diverse points of view while also enabling comment and participation." We're proud that Blogger continues to be a force for free expression worldwide and that it is growing quickly despite its maturity. In the past two years alone, the number of people contributing to a blog has more than doubled, and every second of every day, a new blog is created on Blogger.

Indeed, blogging is a creative way to add to the human dialogue. And let’s hear it for Google who had the temerity to make Blogger a free service, one which allows anybody who can write and wishes to express him or herself access to tools with which they can start their own blog on subjects of their own choosing. You can then give the URL for your blog to friends and relatives, and depending on what you write about, Google, through it’s search engine, is just liable to bring you a reader or two you never expected.§

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It’s All in the Genes

What would expect to get when you mate a beautiful model, Jerry Hall, with super impetuous rock singer Mick Jagger? A model extraordinaire, most likely. Their youngest daughter is named Georgia Jagger. Thanks to The Daily Beast we are able to bring you her very first commercial, for a blue jeans company. You might call it “Genes for Jeans.” Or then again, you might not.§

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From Our Please Don’t Try This at Home! Archives

Chilling is the following surveillance footage of the burglary of an Apple Store in New Jersey, a feat which lasted all of 36 seconds. Obviously those glass store fronts are not the most protective of materials, even though they do a good job of displaying the store’s merchandise. This masked group was obviously well prepared, and managed to clean out much of the store with meticulous precision. We’re showing it not to inspire you to do likewise, but in hopes that Apple can take some kind of action to prevent repeats of this.§

And for all of you who think that this blog is completely pro Apple, and we bring no unflattering news of our favorite technology company – this is for you. It seems that Snow Leopard, the newest incarnation of the Mac operating system, arbitrarily downgrades the latest safer Adobe Flash player to an earlier, not so safe, version. The video below shows that to you and urges that after installation Snow Leopard adopters should go directly to the Adobe download site and re-install the latest version of Flash. John Gruber of the impeccable Daring Fireball blog, gives us the explanation behind the replacement of Flash here


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Michael Jackson Finally Laid to Rest

Michael Jackson was finally laid the rest Thursday evening, and in the most appropriate place imaginable, Hollywood’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, resting place of the stars. Jackson certainly deserved that label star, and to be buried in the company of such luminaries as Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe must truly be a dream come true, as if any of us ever seriously dream about our death and subsequent place of burial location.

For most of us who have grown weary of the extended Michael coverage since his untimely deat h, it should bring eventual relief as the constant barrage of news and non-news concerning Michael hopefully will finally fade away. (Or are we hallucinating?)

I learned one valuable lesson from Michael’s final night and morning on earth. Do not fear insomnia to the point of panic, where you try doping yourself to sleep no matter what. Of course, we wouldn’t be able to go to the extremes Michael was able to go to in his final hours. We obviously don’t have the services of an attending physician to inject operation-room strength anesthetics to our waiting arm.

But for me the lesson is simply, insomnia won’t hurt you, much less kill you, unless you panic and try and drug yourself to sleep. When I have occasional an insomnia attack in the middle of the night I first get up and try exercising, after which I return to bed. If that doesn’t work then I get up a second time, turn on the lights, fire up my computer, and read for a half hour or so. So far that has worked every time.§

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And so the time has run out in this week’s Little Eddy blog. We do one of these a week, posting them on Saturday mornings, and leaving them up until the following Saturday morning. We try to bring you text that perhaps purveys a point of view that is different from yours, and we also bring you photographs which amuse or amaze, and videos on this and that topic.

We will return next week with a brand new edition. We hope you find your way back to join us. And if you have a friend who might enjoy it don’t hesitate to email them our URL,
Meantime, take care, and don’t take any wooden Republican nickels. Bye now.§

The Real Little Eddy