Saturday, October 17, 2009

Blog #110: Sen. Rockefeller Roasts Health Industry

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Click below for the most honest, outspoken and important video concerning the Health Care Reform debate we have yet seen. You won’t believe such honesty spewing from the mouth of a politician, but as becomes clear as this interview by the Washington Post with Sen. Jay Rockefeller progresses, the Delaware senator is definitely NOT your ordinary politician. You can view it by clicking on the triangle below.§

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Photo from

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A Heaping Helping of Conservative Angst Anyone?

The reactions of the conservative far right, first by their cheers at the rejection of Chicago as the venue for the 2016 Olympics, and the following week, their shock and rage that our President received the Nobel Peace Prize “without having done anything yet,” just shows how supremely negative their thinking has become.

The Nobel Committee answered the critics as follows: “To those who say a Nobel is too much too soon in Obama's young presidency, we simply disagree ... He got the prize for what he has done," committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland told The Associated Press by telephone from Strasbourg, France, where he was attending meetings of the Council of Europe. Jagland singled out Obama's efforts to heal the divide between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe. "All these things have contributed to — I wouldn't say a safer world — but a world with less tension," he said.

Nobel committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland proudly displays a photo of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

So who the hell does William Kristol think he is, advising Mr. Obama that he should have rejected the honor? What does he want, our president to commit an act of rudeness towards a committee which has extended to him the world’s most prestigious honor? Doesn’t that sound just like a conservative nay-sayer. And now Kristol is backing Liz Cheney in her efforts to lionize the behavior of her father and the Bush administration, and while they’re at it, they’ll attempt to tear down the Obama administration.

The problem with conservatives was summed up in a nutshell by Paul Krugman in his N.Y. Times column which we quoted last week. He noted, “The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern. The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.”

Already Republicans are smelling blood in the 2010 elections as they blindly scream NO! to health care reform. Well, their mentors, the Health Insurance Industry, just showed their true colors, and they aren’t the red, white and blue of America. Their true color is a dirty green, the color of money. Which is why, to a man, Republicans are bedding down with the American Health Care Insurance Industry, which seems to have bought and paid for their services, lock, stock and barrel. In short, Democrats serve the people, Republicans serve our would be masters.§

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Move On.Oprah – Steve Jobs is the new Teen Favorite

Steve Jobs with his game changing iPhone

And from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Tech Blog we learn: According to a recent survey of 1,000 teens by Junior Achievement, Steve Jobs is the most admired entrepreneur, ahead of Oprah Winfrey. Jobs garnered 35 percent of the votes ahead of Winfrey (25 percent), skater Tony Hawk (16 percent) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (10 percent.)

Sixty-one percent of respondents chose Jobs because they said he "made a difference in/improved people's lives or made the world a better place," while 35 percent of respondents cited him for "success in multiple fields."

Kids have plenty of reasons to like Jobs, from iPods, Macs and iPhones, to all the assorted movies from his studio Pixar. It's interesting to see Jobs ahead of people like entertainers and celebrities like Oprah, Hawk and the Olsen Twins. It makes you wonder if kids will get excited about science and technology, not just for consumption but as a career.§

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Tidying Up an Untidy email Inbox

You can get your email in-box cluttered these days without half trying, thanks to that auto-generated email you mistakenly signed up for back once upon a time. I spend a few minutes every day deleting emails from the Washington Post, the Daily Beast, Version Tracker and the like, otherwise they will stack up and fill up my box. However, there are a couple of automated emails that I look forward to getting and which I actually read.

Most serious of the two newcomers comes from Michael Moore, the filmmaker who has started up a blog to run parallel to the opening of his new movie, Capitalism, A Love Story. His blog #1 is called “Pilots on Food Stamps,” and it certainly captures your attention with its assertion that more and more pilots these days are forced to take on a second job. Imagine, trusting your life to the hands of a pilot who is about to fly your eight hour flight after having come off of the early morning shift at your local Starbucks. Michael and Friends is a new blog site added to Moore’s website,

Humorist Andy Borowitz has a delightful free spoof email you can subscribe to. In a recent edition coming on the heels of President Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize, you learn that Obama has won the Country Music Entertainer of the Year Award, with the sub headline, Surprise Selection Shocks Nashville

Barack Obama, Nashville’s Big Winner. The 2009 Country Music Entertainer of the Year Had to Leave the Award Ceremony early to accept the Heisman Trophy. Photo courtesy Andy Borowitz website.

Borowitz followed that with “GOP charges Olympia Snowe born in Kenya after she voted with Dems on Healh Care.” And the next day came “Balloon Boy Wastes Entire Fuxxing American afternoon.” Andy’s email publicizes his public appearances and also is one you have to sign up for, which you can do here

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How About This Possible Good News?

Monday morning brought some possibly really good news. According to the N.Y. Times the Fox Business Channel is interested in possibly acquiring the services of Obama administration critic Lou Dobbs. This would be a good thing for it would move him over to that congregation of vipers where also lurk the likes of Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, et al. Birds of a feather, and all that. Fox News, also known in some circles as Loser Central, is headed by former Reagan era media mogul Roger Ailes.

The news about Dobbs possible move came to light recently after word leaked that Dobbs had dinner last month with Ailes, chairman of Fox News, according to two N.Y. Times sources. What would that do if it actually comes about. Well for one thing it would put all of the most virulent of the administration’s tv critics in one cage, where Obama and company can enter with chairs properly raised. (Perhaps they should also load their six-guns with some kind of soft bullets that sting.)

Would this bring back disaffected CNN viewers who moved away in disgust at Dobbs’ nightly tirades against the administration? Good question. For one, it won’t bring me back for I discovered a more interesting evening lineup over on msnbc: Ed Shultz at five, Chris Matthew’s Hardball at six, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown at seven, and Rachel Maddow at eight. (At nine msnbc begins repeating its programming.) And besides, the new NBA season is beginning, so we gleefully look forward to trading politics for N.B.A. basketball. Go Rockets!


Photo – Houston Chronicle

I further discovered by leaving msnbc on with the sound off overnight, an interesting new morning lineup, beginning with Morning Joe, and climaxing with the Andrea Mitchell Show at noon. And so about all I watch on CNN these days is Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room from three to six. I am inherently a lazy, non adventurous man. And I do thank you, Lou Dobbs, for forcing me to find out what else there was out there.§

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Are you into late night talk shows?

Personally I’m not, I gave them up when ABC let Dick Cavette go. These days, though, you can access the pearls from Late Night without having to sit through hours of flotsam and jetsam. Sites like YouTube, Hulu, and the like, put the best of Late Night Talk online. And thanks to the fine art of embedding a video, you and I can embed the videos to run on our web pages and blogs, etc. For instance, take Conan O’Brien. He’s got a quirky sense of humor, one that is just south of David Letterman, which is one reason Letterman has inched ahead of him in the ratings. (The other reason of course, sex with underlings. Nothing sells quite like sex.)

Anyway, Conan is into technology. Imagine his surprise when in the Intel commercial Our Rock Stars are Different, he discovered that Ajay Bhatt, the co-inventor of the USB port on computers, was played by an actor. That inspired O’Brien to seek out and interview the real Ajay Bhatt, which is immortalized in the video below.§

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More Reflections on Children’s Camps

And now its time for some more of my reflections on the children’s summer camps, for which I worked during the best 22 years of my life. One of the first things I’m asked by people these days who haven’t as yet sent their child to a camp, is why in these hard times should a family fork over the kind of money these seven or eight week camps require in tuition these days.

Well, if you consider your child an investment there’s every reason in the world to sign him or her up. A few primary ones bubble up right off the bat. Kids these days tend to be overweight and sedentary. They desperately need exercise. The average child these days is nowhere near challenged either physically or mentally in the usual home summer situation. Children have in large measure forsaken outdoor activities, exchanging healthy outdoor interaction with the sedentary lifestyle of hanging in and watching tv, or playing games on the computer. If you send your child to a camp, you are sending him or her into a situation in which they will find very rewarding in both their physical and mental development.

Many children are overweight these days because the human child was not made to be sedentary, it was made to climb, and swing, to run and play games. Not to mention swimming and horseback riding. To me the most important thing kids get out of camp is the pure physical activity required to just keep up. Everything is a long walk, to the activities, to the lake or pool or ocean for swimming, and for the various other activities.

Camps do that for children. Kids get back in the habit of walking and running, and they reconnect with the outdoors. Even if it’s only for two months, that’s better than couch potato-ing the summer away in our very own air conditioned cocoon, either watching tv or playing computer games.

Just as important as the physical development the child gets to establish relations with their counselors, and what’s probably even more important, a chance to interact with their peers. In this world of ours as they grow up today’s kids have to learn to deal with all kinds of people, and a sleep-away camp gives a child an excellent opportunity to get new experiences and make new friends in a friendly controlled environment.

A Few Kids Do Get Homesick

An occasional child does get homesick at camp, a condition which makes them weepy and fretting to be elsewhere. I discovered this when I went from the Settlement Camp in Beacon, N.Y. to Killooleet, in Hancock, Vt. The Settlement Camp had three three-week trips, and we basically gave no time for homesickness, cramming almost the same amount of activity into each of those three weeks that a seven week camp offers their campers for the entire summer. It also helps that the child knows the camp is over in three weeks.

But I was surprised when transferring to Killooleet to discover that an occasional child there does get homesick. A clever counselor can usually make the child see that if he or she went home, all of their friends would be away at other camps, and they wouldn’t have anyone to hang with. However there was one camper my first year at Killooleet, his name was Andy G., who proved to be my introduction to a case of extreme homesickness. Andy was 7, and he had two sisters in camp, Dee 9, and Pru 11.

From the first day Andy had moped and cried incessantly. It was vexing to me, for I had never had to deal with a serious case of homesickness before, and hadn’t the faintest idea as to how to handle it. I tried reasoning with him, but you can’t really reason with a distraught, homesick 7 year old. Next I tried cuddling and warmth. That didn’t seem to change his mood either, if anything it seemed to entrench his homesickness all the more.

After a week of Andy’s non-stop fretting, it was his older sister, Pru, who righted the ship, perspective wise. She had come to bring Andy some news from home one day, saw him moping around and watched as I vainly trying to comfort him. She came over to me and said, “Don’t pay any attention to him, you’re just making it worse. He’s doing it just to get attention. You watch, at the end of camp he’ll be bawling just as hard because he has to go home.” Andy looked at her incredulously, but she had hit the ball out of the park, and she turned out to be absolutely correct. After that day Andy never let out another whimper until the last day of camp, at which time his tear ducts reopened, and his tears flowed like a river.

And so it was that I learned that homesickness does happen, but it is rarely anything to worry about. If it most always happens during a child’s first summer, and it only happens in a camp that affords enough leisure for a child to reflect on his condition. And that is also the type of camp situation most likely to promote true growth in a child. For its the reflection that puts the camp experience into perspective. And I can’t recall a single instance of homesickness carrying into another summer.§

Children’s Camps as Magical Places

Children's Camps are magical places, physical properties which take on mystical proportions at the outset of each summer, offering the campers developmental experiences that will shape them as they grow, and which there will be many that they will never forget. And a truly creative camp director goes with the flow.

Henry and Bess Haskell retired after my fifth year at BBC, after making arrangements for Ann Goldsmith, Bob Hellerson and I to run the camp. It was a little weird to find one’s self trying to fill the footsteps of so gifted a pair of leaders, but camp was important and we vowed to do our best. Maine’s summer weather is usually cloudy and cool, a mirror of England’s weather as Richard T., our English fishing counselor, reminded us. Deathly hot days are few and far between, but there was this one day in our first year that was a doozer, and to make matters worse the tide was low which meant there could be no swimming to cool kids down. And so I had one of those brain-dazzling mental inspirations which you get from time to time.

This one went as follows: what the camp needed at this moment was an All-Camp Muddle. “Muddling” was an activity usually done by one group at a time. It consisted of a camper decorating his or her bathing-suited anatomy with exotic designs of mud and sea-weed. It had never been done before by the entire camp all at once, but for sure this day seemed to require something daring if camper morale was to be lifted. It was a daring and ingenious move, and it turned out to be a very photogenic one as well. Children can be enormously creative with slabs of mud and hands full of seaweed. All sorts of monsters fresh from Davy Jones’ Locker took form in those sun drenched mud flats on that sweltering afternoon. I took many exciting photographs, and by the way the activity worked like a charm in boosting the mood of the campers, instantly catapulting it from bored frustration to adventurous delight.

However, there is always another side of the coin, and what followed served as a terrible strain on the camp’s showering facilities, as for the first time ever the entire camp needed a shower at the same time, taxing the hot water heater to new, untried heights. And a female counselor by the name of Mimi, whose memory will live forever in the Little Eddy Hall of Unpaid Debts, managed to score revenge on behalf of the entire counseling staff by shooing three naked nine year old girls into the shower where he was blindly shampooing his hair, ostensibly she said to hurry him along. And he has to blushingly admit, it worked like a charm. That was the fastest shower and shampoo in the history of fast showers and shampoos, although it did miss by a couple of minutes being not quite fast enough.§

Earth, No Wind, Much Fire

However, I have to concede that the ultimate example of improvisation on the part of a camp director belongs to Henry Haskell, founder and original director of Blueberry Cove Camp. One night back when the Haskells were still running camp, Henry awoke to a camp director’s most dreaded nightmare, the sight of bright red-orange flames lighting up a fog tinged night sky. The Foc’sle (short for Forecastle), a building which housed no campers but which served as the art studio, had caught fire in the middle of this night. (It later turned out that earlier in the evening some counselors had been having their very own lobster feast in the building, and one or more of them must have either been careless with a cigarette, or with the coals from their fire.) Henry immediately notified the Tenants Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, and then proceeded to go around waking up the camp.

The Foc’sle Fire, Not!

I want you to know that Henry went from tent to tent to cabin, waking up every last one of us, and when he was finished some fifty children and twenty or so counselors plus the kitchen crew all sleepily snaked our way down the hill to that burning building, watching in awe as its beautiful flames licked at the dew filled Maine night sky. The Firemen were already busily at work by the time a sleepy camp arrived, spraying water on the adjoining buildings to keep the fire from spreading.

We sat there, watching spellbound as every few minutes a can of paint or some other flammable substance would catch fire, shooting multi-colored streaks into the night sky. It was more exciting than a 4th of July Roman Candles display, as every now and then a multi-colored flaming missile would shoot out of the conflagration, striking heavens only knew where. As we campers and counselors watched (from a safe distance, of course) the Tenants Harbor volunteer fire department was toiling away to keep the flames contained, and the fire was successfully confined to that one building.

Although nothing could be done for the Foc’sle, luckily for Henry and Bess the Fire Crew was successful in keeping the blaze from spreading, with a big assist, of course, from a night with air heavy with mist, and not a whisper of a breeze. That combined with the crackerjack work of the Tenants Harbor Fire Brigade left no chance of that fire spreading.

It took several hours, but once the fire was safely under control (meaning no glowing embers left), Bessie Haskell and the cook and kitchen crew made coffee for the volunteer firefighters who had worked so tirelessly throughout much of the night. And in addition to cinnamon rolls the kitchen staff had prepared for the next day’s breakfast, the ever pragmatic Bessie chose that opportunity to serve the firemen some junk candy bars that a parent had donated to the camp, but which Bessie had deemed problematic for the health of the children, and so had escaped the fate of the daily milk-and-crackers table. The ever practical Bessie, I guess, figured that being full grown men, the firemen were tough enough to safely ingest that junk candy without sustaining internal damage.

It was a night short on rest, but incredibly long on spectacle, the likes of which none of us would probably ever get a chance to see again. How perceptive it was of Henry to realize that this catastrophic event would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both children and staff. As Henry said the next day, it had been the greatest bonfire in the history of Blueberry Cove. And he had been dead right to wake us up so we all could experience it. And just for the record, the next summer’s campers were greeted by a brand new Foc’sle.§

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And so as the last glowing coal from the late Foc’sle fades to black, so this week’s Little Eddy Blog fades right along with it. We try our best to bring you a little something you will find nowhere else. Of course, as our favorite voice-devoid-of-a-brain, Rush Limbaugh, might say, “there’s a damn good reason you won’t find it anywhere else. So there!”

We write all week and put up our weekly musings on Saturday mornings between 7 and 8 Central Daylight time. We invite you to surf our URL again anytime next week. Meantime, watch what line you buy from that Fox News Gang. It’s all “doom and gloom”, it ain’t the least bit “sunny” over on the conservative side of the street. Bye bye.§

The Real Little Eddy –

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