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

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