Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blog # 125: What a Week it Was

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Extra!!! Extra!!!

U. S. Vet’s Newsletter Calls For Immediate

Arrest of 5 Supreme Justices for Treason

(Son Joel sent me this URL on Friday. Click here to check it out in its entirety. It’s amazing. – TRLE)

Friday, January 29, 2010: Would you believe? Conservatives have be screetching for years now about how liberal activist judges are always redefining law, and here we find the five most conservative Supreme Court jurists “activating” all over the legal process, and in effect turning over control of our political system to corporations, including multinational ones. Why its enough to have Gordon Duff, the lead writer/editor of the newsletter Veterans Today, call for the immediate arrest of these five Mafia judges on charges of Treason. He wrote:

“Five members of the Supreme Court declared that a “corporation” is a person, not a “regular person” but one above all natural laws, subject to no God, no moral code but one with unlimited power over our lives, a power awarded by judges who see themselves as grand inquisitors in an endeavor meant to hunt down all heretics who fail to serve their god, the god of money.

Their ruling has made it legal for foreign controlled corporations to flush unlimited money into our bloated political system to further corrupt something none of us trust and most of us fear. The “corporation/person” that the 5 judges, the “neocon” purists, have turned the United States over to isn’t even American.

Our corporations, especially since our economic meltdown, are owned by China, Russia and the oil sheiks along with a few foreign banks. They don’t vote, pay taxes, fight in wars, need dental care, breathe air, drive cars or send children to school. Anyone who thinks these things are people is insane. Anyone who would sell our government to them is a criminal and belongs in prison.

There is nothing in the Constitution that makes this “gang of five” bribe sucking clowns above the law. There is nothing in the Constitution that even mentions corporations much less gives them status equal to or greater than the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government.

How is that for not mincing words? Say what you mean next time, Mr. Duff!

It goes on and gets even better, and you the American voter have a clear and decided interest in where it is going to lead, for as Mr. Duff says, it has put our political system up for sale to entities which have no real place or responsibilities in our system of government. And coming after all these years of tedious charges of “activism” on the part of liberal judges, it is a ludicrous power grab on the part of conservative judges who we have every right to hope will lose their power in the court over the next four to eight years.

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And now for something completely different. . .

Time Crawls as Apple’s Big Event Looms

Monday morning, Jan. 25, 2010. Time crawls on as we approach Jan. 27, and Apple’s big new product announcement, which will be followed in Prime Time by President Obama’s “State of the Union” message to Congress and the Nation. We won’t pretend to speculate which announcement will be the most important, but we can freely speculate which one is going to be the most fun to watch, and the most important for the future of the Tech Industry.

Apple began its historic week by announcing the most successful fourth quarter earnings in its history, with its charismatic CEO Steve Jobs hinting of great new products for the coming year, and especially the one to be announced this Wednesday.

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But shades of coincidence, also appearing in the technology spotlight this week was Bill Gates, the ex-chairman of Microsoft, who last week began appearing on Twitter, and who debuted his own website, this week.

One Seattle TechFlash reader, calling himself zaine_ridling, questioned any reason for his reading Gates Notes: "Why should I care about Gates' thoughts?” he wrote. “I keep replaying his testimony in his US Antitrust case where he was both dishonest and confused."

The rest of us aren’t quite so skeptical, after all he’s still among, if not the, richest man in the world. And few doubt the importance of the work his foundation is doing in poverty stricken parts of the world. Monday night Gates appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Thanks to Hulu, below you can see his appearance for yourself.§

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Gates
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Here are our thoughts on why Gates is reappearing here and there during this week of Apple’s “Tablet” rollout. We suspect it’s because he is missing his place in the Tech World, and is using his various appearances to try and grab a little bit of the spotlight for himself once again. To remind the world that he’s still around, and of the work of his foundation.

Of course, the final irony is that years ago Gates predicted that a (Microsoft) Tablet device would revolutionize the face of computing. Microsoft’s Tablet never quite stirred a ripple, but according to the buzz that is all over the industry these days, it is beginning to look like his old nemesis, Steve Jobs, just might finally pull that off.

Jobs has about four desperate industries, newspapers, magazines, book publishers, and gaming, all waiting breathlessly in the wings. And after the success of his iPhone, introduced just a couple of years ago and already with a solid place in the huge cellphone industry, only a fool would bet against his tablet.

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At Last, The Daily Beast Gives Us a Cohesive Timeline of Tiger’s Big Night

One of the newest online magazines, Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast, has soared to stratospheric heights this week, as one of its contributors, Gerald Posner, published a piece which finally cleared away the maze which surrounded Tiger Woods’ amazing one day Thanksgiving fall from grace. Who can attest to the accuracy of Posner’s time line; only Tiger and Erin know for sure? But, it is the first reportage of the series of Thanksgiving events that explains what happened with clarity, and which makes the bizarre series of events make sense. And it details that quirky evening as nothing else has yet done.

In our blog we attempt to deal with politics, technology, and memories of our time in children’s camps, but we know nothing about the lives of Golf Superstars. However, we live in a world in which the facade of a larger than life, a God-like figure can be reduced to ashes in a manner of minutes, and we can’t help but notice this, and admire a publication which attempts to bring us information that puts a little sense into the mix.

There is no reason for us to aggregate the story here. To glean the information for yourself simply point your cursor and click here §

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Tablet Pre-launch Hype Dwarfs iPhone’s

Oddly enough, pre-launch hype for the iSlate, iPad, iTablet, or whatever the mystery device ends up being called, is dwarfing pre-launch hype for the iPhone, which formerly set the 21st Century record for a pre-launch product hype. If this is any indication of it’s future success, Steve Jobs is in line for the designation of CEO, Magician, and Super Cool Salesman of the 21st Century.

And lucky for Apple investors, and for those of us in the buying public, Jobs’ rollouts are generally speaking so intuitive and easy to use that never mind Geico’s mythical caveman, even a toddler can operate them.

The event itself is set to begin Wednesday noon, central time. We’ll follow the event via Quicktime from my iMac, and although I’m sure you will have heard all about it by then, on Saturday morning when we upload next week’s blog we’ll give you our take on what went down.§

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iPad Anyone?

Wednesday noon CST finally rolled around. It was somewhat hectic trying to find a feed from the Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs was holed up, introducing his newest baby. It turned out the gigantic Apple rumor mill was basically correct, the new product was a super-sized iPhone on steroids which answers to the name iPad.

Going from one connection to another (servers were going down right and left as gobs more people tried to access the sites which were attempting to cover the event live) I first found out that its name was really iPad (not really surprising as it was simpler than the other two names Apple had allegedly considered, iTablet and iSlate, both awkward mouthfuls.) Of course, the name iPad makes it synonymous with a certain feminine sanitary product, which the now defunct television show Mad TV mercilessly parodied recently.

The blacked out dancing girls with the white blockage in their pubic area made running the video worth while. However, as funny as that Mad TV parody was, Jobs was right, it would quickly be forgotten, as the name iPad would succeed or fail on the strength of the public’s acceptance of the product itself, and not some fleeting parody of it.

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Thursday morning Techmeme, the aggregator which virtually owns the technology field, listed the reaction of John Gruber’s blog The Daring Fireball first in its list of reactions to the Job’s rollout. As usual Gruber made note of something not noted by others.

“Lastly there’s the fact that the iPad is using a new CPU made by Apple itself; the Apple A4. This is a huge deal. I got about 20 blessed minutes of time using the iPad demo units Apple had at the event today, and if I had to sum up the device with one word, that word would be “fast.”

It is fast, fast, fast. The hardware really does feel like a big iPhone – and a big original iPhone at that, with the aluminum back. . . . Web pages render so fast it was hard to believe. After using the iPhone so much for two and a half years, I have become accustomed to web pages rendering (relative to the Mac) slowly. On the iPad they seem to render nearly instantly.

Other early commentators included Walter S. Mossberg, tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal:

It’s about the software, stupid. While all sorts of commentators were focusing on how much Apple’s new $499 iPad tablet computer looks like an oversized iPhone, the key to whether it can be the first multi-function tablet to win wide public acceptance probably lies in whether consumers perceive it as a suitable replacement for a laptop in key scenarios. And that, in my view, depends heavily on the software and services that flow through its handsome little body.

And of course David Pogue, technology columnist of the N.Y. Times, gets to put his two cents worth in:

Until I saw the demo, I wondered why you’d want an iPad instead of a laptop. After all, the price is about the same. And once you add a carrying case to the iPad — wouldn’t you worry about that glass screen bouncing around in your briefcase or backpack naked? — it’s about the same bulk and weight as a laptop.

Now, though, it looks like Apple really has created something new. Criticisms of “Like a laptop” and “a big iPod Touch” don’t really do justice to the possibilities.

And finally from Stephen Fry:

“Well bless my soul and whiskers. This is the first time I’ve joined the congregation at the Church of Apple for a new product launch. I’ve watched all the past ones, downloaded the Quicktime movies and marvelled as Apple’s leader has stood before an ovating faithful and announced the switch to Intel, the birth of iPod, the miniMac, the iTunes Store, OS X, iPhoto, the swan’s neck iMac, the Shuffle, Apple retail stores, the iPhone, the Titanium Powerbook, Garageband, the App Store and so much more. But today I finally made it. I came to San Francisco for the launch of the iPad. Oh, happy man.

”Today had special resonance. In front of his family, friends and close colleagues stood the man who founded Apple, was fired from Apple and came back to lead Apple to a greatness, reach and influence that no one on earth imagined. But a year ago, it is now clear, there was a very strong possibility that Steve Jobs would not live to see 2010 and the birth of his newest baby. . . .

”Like the first iPhone, iPad 1.0 is a John the Baptist preparing the way of what is to come, but also like iPhone 1.0 (and Jokanaan himself too come to that) iPad 1.0 is still fantastic enough in its own right to be classed as a stunningly exciting object, one that you will want NOW and one that will not be matched this year by any company.

In the future, when it has two cameras for fully featured video conferencing, GPS and who knows what else built in (1080 HD TV reception and recording and nano projection, for example) and when the iBook store has recorded its 100 millionth download and the thousands of accessories and peripherals that have invented uses for iPad that we simply can’t now imagine – when that has happened it will all have seemed so natural and inevitable that today’s nay-sayers and skeptics will have forgotten that they ever doubted its potential.”

And so went the launch of Apple’s newest dream product. Fry came the closest to reflecting the fervor of the event with his description of attending for the first time the congregation of the Church of Apple. And his words also came closest to defining the heights that Jobs and Apple have ascended. English history resounds with stories of the age of Chivalry, the Knights of the Round Table, and their Quest for the Holy Grail. Jobs and Apple are reinventing that classic folktale, and bringing their quest to life in the 21st Century as they attempt to dream up products designed to change the quality of our lives for the better.

We’re glad that Bill Gates is using his time and skills in pursuit of defining and curing the worlds problems. But Gates’ leadership in the world of computers was always third hand at best.

The phenomenal engineers at the Xerox PARC experimental labs originally developed the Alto computer. It was not a commercial product, but several thousand units were built and were heavily used at PARC and at several universities for many years. The graphical user interface (the pointing, clicking system allowing a mouse to activate data) as well as email, a bitmapped screen, the ethernet, and a number of other features taken for granted in today’s machines all came out of Alto and PARC.

However, there was a reason for Steve Jobs being allowed to visit PARC and later allowed to return with a number of Apple engineers in tow. Apple was invited by PARC to view their research because in their hearts those PARC engineers knew that they were sitting on the future of computing, and they realized that if it was left to Xerox (which was a company specializing in copying documents for business) their work would never get beyond their labs.

And so in 1979 the PARC engineers invited Steve Jobs to check out their work, subsequently a number of PARC employees moved to Apple to work on the Lisa and Macintosh GUI, and in the historic year 1984 Macintosh was introduced to the world. Although the original ideas are credited to Xerox PARC, the work by Apple extended PARC's concepts considerably according to those who were there at the time, adding manipulatable icons, a fixed drop-down menu bar and drag&drop manipulation of objects in the file system in the Macintosh Finder.

In short, Steve Jobs is a visionary who has a unique ability to sense what the public might crave, and who will then work tirelessly to produce a product which is both intuitive and consistent to use and which meets the needs of the customer.

Essentially Jobs believed in a company’s hardware should be directly tied to its software, whereas Mr. Gates’ vision was to wed the PARC GUI to the IBM personal computer and its many clones, which thinking thereby made him his fortune.

Mr. Gates is the richest man in the world. Mr. Jobs’ annual salary for being CEO of Apple and leading this modern day quest for the technology's Holy Grail is $1 a year. He did get a rather expensive jet liner as a thank you from Apple’s Board of Directors, and he owns a shitload of stock in both Apple and in Disney, to whom he sold his animation studio Pixar, but since he returned to Apple in the nineties and resumed his leadership he gets a flat 1$ a year as salary (he says he takes the dollar so he can put himself and his family on Apple’s excellent health care plan.)

The Mac/windows wars among technophiles have persisted ever since Microsoft debuted it’s very first Macintosh copy which was called Windows 95. Gates filled a real need especially in the business community delivering a computer operating system which was non tech enough that non geeks could manage it. And he was rewarded amply for his service. However, with each passing day more and more knowledgeable computer users are finding that putting the hardware and the software together in the same house is the way to go, and more and more of their support is being put in the house Steve Jobs has built, leaving Microsoft’s former relevance, to quote Bob Dylan, “blowing in the wind.”

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Obama’s Frustrating Caucus Debate

This week President Obama did his damndest to talk a little reason into the Republican caucus. He met their talking points face on face, but you can’t reason with a group of out-of-power politicians who see nay-saying everything the President and the Democrats propose as their most sure way to power.

Is it “their surest way back to power? Did the people of their districts elect them to roadblock the Obama administration, or do they expect them to take care of the nation’s business. If I was the political animal type I would urge Republicans and Democrats alike to urge Republican pols to hold Town Hall Meetings, and then I would come down heavily on them for being the obstructionists that are, in this time of dire need for the country to work for increases employment, and control of the national debt.

Good luck, Mr. President. I do believe you have met your match. I wish you luck and hope to god Republican nay-sayers will get their comeuppance at the polls in November. Let’s hope voters reward pols for the good they do their country, not how well they adhere to their party’s line.

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This Week’s Camp Memories Outsourced

The mid-1960’s was a time of rock and roll, Woodstock, and “happenings.” I recently asked Ann Goldsmith, who became director of Blueberry Cove Camp after the Haskells retired, to email me about a happening at BBC that I had forgotten about. Ann emailed me the following description of the event, which I am publishing as is.

She had qualms about the event itself, as did I at the time, which is probably why I couldn’t readily recall it, and so the event only happened that one year. In the spirit of the day I have outsourced this week’s camp memories. It is called Christmas in July.

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Written by Ann Goldsmith

One summer in the late ’60’s a crazy idea came my way. One of the more inventive counselors suggested we have a Christmas Party. Not my idea of a summer camp activity and being a bit of a Christmas curmudgeon anyway, I was not very keen on the idea. However, as is the way at Blueberry Cove, unless something a counselor wants to try is potentially dangerous or obviously counter to the basic philosophy of Camp, the counselors are encouraged to display initiative and be creative.

Enough staff went along with the plan thinking it a great idea, I acquiesced and OKed the plan. I did decide that I would not participate in the planning and I would try to keep my nose out of the whole affair. Therefore, the event as it occurred was as much a surprise to me as it was to the children. As often happens with crazy ideas, the Christmas in July Party has gone down in the chronicles of Blueberry Cove Camp as a highlight. Fortunately, it did not become a yearly occurrence.

The children went to bed the night of the planned party with Camp being pretty quiet by 8:30 or 9:00 pm.

Around 9:30 or 10:00 the counselors got to work and brought in a perfectly sized tree, erected it next to the fireplace in the dining room and set about trimming the tree with paper and popcorn chains. They brewed large vats of cocoa in the kitchen and made packets of Xmas cookies (previously prepared) so that each child would receive one. They put some fake wrapped packages under the tree for effect and ran green and red streamers from the rafters.

About 11 pm or so when all the decorating was completed, Henry Haskell (the former BBC director) arrived in a red sweatshirt, clam digger boots, a Santa hat, and was put on a chair next to the tree. All was ready to wake up the camp.

Ed, as the music director, got out his banjo and counselors went with him singing carols and waking up kids bunk by bunk. A long parade followed Ed to the back of the Maine where the firewood trap door had been emptied of logs and opened for a crawl hatch into The Maine. The kids entered at this unusual location and were greeted with a transformed dining room. Sleepy, bleary eyed and stumbling, they stood in awe as they were ushered into a seated circle around the tree and Henry who, by this time, was “Ho Ho Hoing” in earnest.

A series of Christmas carols, the passing out of wrapped cookies for all, a cup of cocoa and joyful greetings of, “Merry Christmas” followed and then each counselor ushered his/her kids back to their bunk and bed. The Maine was cleaned up so that no sign of Christmas remained for the children to see in the morning. Counselors also confiscated any wrapped cookies that had been stowed upon the kid’s shelves for future consumption.

The next morning at wake up the camp was a buzz with exclamations about the Christmas Party in the middle of the night. No counselor would admit there had been anything unusual during the night and simply put off any child who wanted to discuss it. The youngest girls in the Barnacle told the counselor, “Even if you won’t admit we had a Christmas Party, we can prove it,” and went to their shelves looking for the cookies. “I know I put them right here,” said one 6 year old. Of course the counselor feigned ignorance saying, “You know you are not s’posed to have any food in the cabin to attract ants.”

I was walking by the cabin just about then and three of the four girls (the fourth still hunting for the lost cookies) came running out saying, “Ann, Ann wasn’t there a party last night in ‘the Maine’? Wasn’t there a Christmas tree, and Santa Claus and ……”

“Wow, tell me about it? You must have had quite a dream. Did you all have the same dream? You know there are studies at Rice University about people having the same dream. Maybe we should contact them and you could be famous telling about your dream.” The girls looked at each other not sure to believe me or not and not at all sure what to say next.

At this point Patrick, the 4 year old son of counselors’ Cuz and Louise, came walking by and the girls agreed they had seen him at the party so they exclaimed, “Here’s Patrick. Patrick will tell the truth. Patrick wasn’t there a Christmas Party at ‘The Maine’ last night?” Patrick stopped in his tracks obviously feeling proud to be asked his opinion about something.

“Yeah, I was there.” The girls looked at each other nodding in agreement that proof was at hand, and gave me a disgusted, “See, Ann we told you” look.

Patrick went on describing the party, “There was a Christmas tree, and cookies, cocoa and Santa Claus,”…. to the delight of the girls as he confirmed their stand. Then Patrick added, “and a dragon and …..”

“Wow, Patrick must have had the same dream and his is even better. You guys didn’t have a dragon,” I exclaimed with interest. At that point the girls seemed puzzled, exchanged looks of confusion and went back into their bunk to continue getting dressed and on to their morning chores.

Gathering on the steps of ‘The Maine’ waiting for breakfast, the kids were all talking about the party. Counselors, of course, denied anything unusual happened in the night. The oldest kids seemed to get the ruse and winked at the counselors as if they didn’t want to spoil the illusion for the little kids. The middle aged kids, 8 and 9 year olds, seemed on the edge, not quite sure or, on the other hand, not willing to accept the spirit of Santa, Christmas and surely didn’t want to join the fantasy. They insisted that the counselors “Tell the Truth.” Some of them may have wondered, along with the youngest ones if they had, in fact, imagined it all.

Since I was going along with the denial those middle kids told me, “We are going to mess up the office if you don’t tell us the truth.” And off they strode heading determinedly toward the office. Another group was combing camp for evidence.

It didn’t take long for those determined 9 year olds to discover the discarded Christmas tree from out behind the Fo’c’sle where it had been stashed at midnight well out of view. “We found the tree. See the counselors have been lying. We’ve proved it.”

Interesting to me how the oldest kids could quite easily make the transition and join the adults in the fantasy. The youngest were not sure and accepted the Christmas Party as magic. The middle aged kids insisted on hearing from the adults the truth as they saw it and had to prove to everyone they were right. This is not so different from what happens during the real Christmas season. The transition from the delightful fantasy with little ones who haven’t got a handle on what is real and what is “play” and the reality of providing the magic that older children and adults create every December. Part of growing up is making the transition and understanding the subtle difference between reality, fantasy and just plain fun. I suspect those 6 year old girls weren’t the slightest swayed by the proof provided. They simply accepted the spirit of Christmas and moved onto their chores and then breakfast.

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Reading Ann’s piece brought back a flood of my own memories. I think one thing that bothered me about the “happening” was having to lie to the children the next morning. We had all taken an oath to go along with the idea that it had never happened, that the children had been having a kind of mass dream, and none of us wanted to break that pact. However, some of us, especially me, felt bad about having to lie to the children.

Once the memories flooded back, the proudest moment for me came the next morning when the group rooting around for evidence discovered the telltale tree. Brandishing it in triumph, they gleefully ran to the crowd gathered at the Maine awaiting breakfast, proudly displaying their irrefutable evidence that Christmas in July had been no dream, but had actually happened.

I get emails frequently from counselors and even campers I worked with back in the sixties. I am sure each are harboring one or more stories of their own defining the uniqueness of their own camp experience. Nothing would please me more than sharing this space with others wishing to share their own memories of their times in camp.

Let’s make a deal. You write down your most compelling memories of camp, email them to me at and I’ll publish them. I think you will find, as I have, that remembering those special times is the closest thing to making the experience come alive once again. And putting them into words, and sharing them with others, is the very best outcome for you memories. How about it? Don’t hesitate. Write up your favorite memory and email it to me. Let’s make this space a group endeavor.

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And so with Howard Duff’s words calling for the arrest of what he terms the Mafia justices ringing in our ears, President Obama speaking to deaf Republican ears, Ann Goldsmith’s retelling of Christmas in July titillating our taste buds with memories of cookies and hot cocoa, and the ravings about the latest technology breakthrough filling our craving gene to the bursting point, we leave this week’s Little Eddy Blog.

Google and the computer gods willing, we will return next week with more of the same which is different. We are glad you came around, and hope to see you again next week. Meantime, don’t take any wooden tea parties. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blog #124: Our Worst Nightmare

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Memories of a Sleepless Night

Monday night/Tuesday morning was virtually sleepless. My recently injured left rib cage ached from the positions I was forced to lie in; I must spend the second half of every night lying on my left side so that my good ear is up and able to hear my alarm as it goes off at 6 am. However, for whatever reason, after getting up at 3:45 for a bladder drain, sleep would not return. My mind was churning, my imagination was hosing me.

Though wide awake every minute I managed to have an excruciating nightmare. Republicans were on the eve of winning Ted Kennedy’s long held Senate seat, and thereby poised to kill, or seriously maim, his lifelong project, national health care reform. Was this remotely possible? On the eve of the first anniversary of President Obama’s game changing election to the presidency of the United States, has the country lost both its faith and its mind?

Is the faith of the people of the United States in general, and the people of Massachusetts in particular, so wafer thin that it could be torn into shreds at the marching of a few kooks, and the mouthings of a Republican leadership which continues to carp at every Obama proposal as if they see that as the only way they can return themselves to power?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president I remember while growing up in the 1930’s. And he had the unique ability to wrap the truth up in the most compelling oratory. And as he closed the nation’s banks in order to save them, he explained his actions with a clarity no president has since matched: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!”

Fear. The Republicans play on the American voters fears as Yo Yo Ma brings life to his cello performances. Unfortunately, once again their strategy seems to be working. They claim the Democrats shut them out of the legislative process, but in truth after submitting numerous amendments themselves, not a Republican would cross over the line and vote for the Democrats health care. They kept saying untruths like “death panels,” too expensive, a government take over, and on and on as they continually, and in lock step, kept up their chant of “No!”

Finally, I got up and turned on msnbc and kept the volume low but hearable, and somehow I managed to last in a horizontal position until 5:30, a half hour before my alarm was set to go off, at which time I threw in the towel and got up and began my morning ablutions.

It was a new day, but Morning Joe offered little or no hope along with its Starbucks. It wasn’t yet daylight, but daylight is surely hours away. Are my night’s fears and musings going to rule the day, or were those rantings merely the workings of a feverish mind? Only the day’s Massachusetts voting will tell for sure. But surely an outcome such as this could only happen in nightmares? In twelve hours we shall know for sure.§

Invitation of the Week

Is there a tablet in Apple’s future? What other tech miracles is Steve Jobs likely to announce at next Wednesday’s event? If you were among the elite in the world of tech writers and product reviewers, you might have received the above invitation in your email box on Monday. Dwight Silverman, our Houston tech guru, did and is planning to attend the event. For those of us mere mortals, we will have to view it on Apple’s website.§

And from the Wall Street Journal comes Apple tablet bombshells:

Reporters Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ethan Smith cited numerous sources familiar with the tablet in revealing that Apple intends to focus its tablet on providing content from multiple "old media" business sources, including textbooks, newspapers and television. Apple has reportedly pitched the tablet as a device that can be shared amongst family members and used for reading news and checking e-mail.

That sharing element, one person said, has been a major focus for Apple in creating the user interface for the device. Interaction with the hardware will be in such a manner that it is "intuitive to share."

"The person said that Apple has experimented with the ability to leave virtual sticky notes on the device and for the gadget to automatically recognize individuals via a built-in camera," the report said. "It's unclear whether these features will be included at launch."

More speculation may be found here

The mobile phone some call “the Jesus phone.”

“There’s an App for That!”

In what has to be one of the truly feel good stories to come out of the devastation that is earthquake ridden Haiti, Brian X. Chen writing in Wired’s Gadget Lab column, tells the story of U. S. filmmaker Dan Wooley who was in Haiti shooting a documentary about the impact of poverty on the island when the earthquake struck.

“I just saw the walls rippling and just explosive sounds all around me,” said Woolley, recounting the earthquake to MSNBC. “It all happened incredibly fast. David yelled out, ‘It’s an earthquake,’ and we both lunged and everything turned dark.”

He could have died, but he ultimately survived thanks to an iPhone app which taught him how to treat his wounds.

After being crushed by a pile of rubble, Woolley used his digital SLR to illuminate his surroundings and snap photos of the wreckage in search of a safe place to dwell. He took refuge in an elevator shaft, where he followed instructions from an iPhone first-aid app to fashion a bandage and tourniquet for his leg and to stop the bleeding from his head wound, according to an MSNBC story.

The app even warned Woolley not to fall asleep if he felt he was going into shock, so he set his cellphone’s alarm clock to go off every 20 minutes. Sixty-five hours later, a French rescue team saved him.

For more on the story go here

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Albuquerque, New Mexico police photo circa 1977

Bill Gates, Yes That One, is on Twitter

By Alex Wilhelm on January 20, 2010: Bill Gates has joined Twitter and is tweeting away using the web interface. Twitter employee @caroline has confirmed this.

Turns out Bill Gates' attention-getting debut on Twitter may be just the prelude. The Microsoft chairman and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair today is launching a new site, dubbed The Gates Notes, where he'll be writing about what's on his mind, posting information from his trips, and sharing excerpts from his exchanges with experts and leaders in areas including science, energy, philanthropy and other global issues.

And so the more dedicated followers of the former Microsoft CEO among you would do well to direct themselves to Todd Bishop’s Tech Flash article reporting on Gates’ new website. Complete details may be found here!

And the Gates’ introductory page may be found here

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More Thoughts on the State of the Nation

Have you noticed recently, that some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed? What with the ongoing disaster in Haiti, and the Senate election in Massachusetts, this morning was certainly one of those days. If it didn’t cause so much pain to have to lie a certain way, I would be up at all hours.

Where has the nation’s patience gone? In what has to be a record breaking free fall, the Democrat’s lost Ted Kennedy’s long held Senate Seat in Massachusetts to a man ashamed to even call himself a Republican. As unbelievable as that sounds, that seems to be what is happening Wednesday morning as we continue this week’s blog

Will it kill health care reform? Probably it will do a lot more than that, it should effectively tie President Obama’s hands in whatever matter he will try to attend to, since he will have lost that precious 60 vote majority in the Senate. Is this insane? In the famous words of personable ex-politician from Alaska, “you betcha!”

Whatever happened to the phrase “majority rules?” Well, it does rule in many places, but not in the United States Senate. 60 votes is required to make a prospective bill “filibuster” proof, and thereby have it sail through the Senate, and votes number 58, 59 and 60 are all powerful as they can hold the most worthy piece of legislation hostage until demands are met. And now that the Democrats have lost that crucial 60th vote, they are, in the words of a gentler Bush, “in deep doodoo.”

How could this have happened? Well, the national patience is obviously set to near zero, and when the Obama fixes to the economy have not instantly caused unemployment go away, people, and particularly the nation’s independent voters seem to have deserted the ship of state like rats on a sinking ship. Of course, the Republicans are behind this, for as one man they have bitterly rejected each and every Obama proposal, which of course has put an end to Obama pre-election promises to be inclusive of Republican input. Republicans don’t like being out of power, and for reasons of their own, they have decided that the swiftest way for them to return to power would be to trash Obama’s Democratic agenda.

Never mind the Bush years and the fact that it was the Republican Party which ran up those monumental deficits after Bill Clinton had left the nation with surpluses. Republicans say: “That was then, this is now,” and so they refuse the Democrats the money to enable them to fix what Republicans have broken. It would serve them right for their strategy to work and put them back in power in 2012. But god help the country if that happens, as Republicans serve only the interests of the rich and well connected, they won’t spend a dime to fix whatever is broken that affects the rest of us. And the country is going to be in really bad shape if the Republican strategy ends up putting them back in power in 2012.§

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Apple and Google; Is the Romance Gone?

At the time of the iPhone introduction Apple and Google were in a lover’s tango. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple’s board of directors, and their companies were standing together against their mutual nemeses, Microsoft.

Funny how time and competition can cut into the most intense of relationships. These days Google has its own mobile operating system (Android) and a mobile phone of its design (Nexus One), both of which are in direct competition to Apple’s iPhone. And according to rumor Apple is in negotiations with Microsoft to make Bing the default Safari search engine.§

An Email to Make My Day

One of the perks of writing this blog and telling of my remembrances of the Children’s camps I worked for over the years, has been in the emails I have gotten from former campers and counselors I once knew. For instance, this appeared in my email box the other day:

Brandon, Michael to me: Do you remember driving to Killooleet in the early sixties, with the Brandon’s (Mom-Elizabeth, daughter-Anne and me, son Michael (Tex).

Hope the years have been kind to you. The ripple effects of your talking to my mom about camp have been life long, 5 summers at camp and another year as a kitchen aide. Went on to school at Colorado Rocky Mt School outside of Aspen. Ended with a 30 year career as a child psychologist.

You never know the extent of folks who cross our paths. I’m glad you crossed ours.

All the best, Michael Brandon, Ph.D.

District Psychologist-Pearland I.S.D., Child-Clinical Psychologist, Licensed, Specialist in School Psychology & Registrant - the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology

Wow. Most impressive. I wrote Michael back that, yes, I did indeed remember that trip. As I remember, I had been working with his mother in Houston on some project related to her folk collection, probably putting materials on tape. She had told me that she was scheduled to attend some kind of seminar that summer in Middlebury, Vt., and she didn’t know what to do with her kids. Of course, being the always loyal camp counselor, I suggested she enroll them at Killooleet, which was just a few miles away at Hancock, Vt. She did, and the four of us drove up to camp that summer in her automobile.

I never knew how their camp adventures had turned out until I got Michael’s email a few days ago. It had obviously worked out well for him. Five summers at camp, and one more as a kitchen aide. And being in a children’s camp environment must have weighed heavily in his career selection, as he seems to have carved himself a long and successful career in Child Psychology. It is the occasional email like this one that makes it worthwhile clearing the clutter in your email box, as you check it daily.§

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A Strange, Twisted Environment

What a strange, twisted environment we are living in these days. On the one hand we are among the most educated and knowledgable people on the planet, but which ever of the children if found guity of initiating the enthusiastic kiss we published a couple of weeks ago (which we reprint above) would have likely been prosecuted (as a child molester?) in certain states of our union. As a five year old boy in Florida was to discover a couple of years ago.

And another problem this generation seems to have invented for itself is sending nude photos of themselves to their friends via cellphones. Teenagers are sometimes daring, and occasionally exhibitionistic. And there’s even a name for this newest of pastimes, it is known as Sex-ting.

And some district attorneys are attempting to prosecute these violations of the public decorum as child pornography, which in these peculiar times has dreadful connotations and terribly long prison sentences. Plus it leaves the child with the label sex offender permanently affixed to his resume.

We are a complex, many shaded society. We are made up of a diverse people whose various cultures reflect many points of view. Sure, there are people offended by the sight of their own, and/or the opposite sex unclothed. That’s why nudity is frowned upon, where its not downright prohibited, in public. But much of our society would not share such a harsh view. The nude body, and particularly the nude female body, has epitomized beauty in art throughout the ages.

I was always encouraging skinny dipping in my camp days, because I felt it was both a natural state to be in and fun way to swim. And I can honestly tell you that you could leaf through the history of mankind from our days in caves and trees to our modern, man made air conditioned environment, without finding one case of a child of either sex who was ever corrupted by the sight of the opposite sex naked. The current notion that simply the sight of the opposite sex bare can be corrupting is patently absurd. I mean really? We are all made equal, and made one way or the other.

Usually, our trip skinny dips were at twilight or later, with a much needed bar of Ivory soap handy to remove the day’s crud from our bodies. But if there was a need, like after a hot, dusty, sweaty climb, skinny dipping in broad daylight was the order of the day.

On trips which I was on no child was ever encouraged to go naked. Most everyone was more than eager. And because we felt that shame should have no part of any reticence on their part, if they didn’t want to go in they were free to watch as the others freely swam and played around.

And usually at some point when they saw how much fun the others were having, their own inhibitions would unravel and they would end up joining the party. And afterwards it was usually the reluctant ones who were the most vocal in thanking us for the activity.

Why this sudden turn to punish today’s Sex-ting teens as pornographers? If you think it is a logical charge then perhaps you should consider running as a district attorney in your area. But to much of our population, nudity is no big deal, and such a skewered charge in which a conviction will send a teen to prison and label him a sex offender for life, is to me at the very least a gigantic pile of hurt and overkill.

And so those prosecutors who would attempt to prosecute some teen agers found guilty of sex-ting, on child pornography charges remains to us an unexplainable anomaly. "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of prosecutors?" They are a breed apart. Obviously they see nudity as cardinal sin. And prosecutors are encouraged from babyhood to seek the maximum possible sentence in all cases.

And so what if a conviction will ruin a child’s life before it has had a chance to flower? Prosecutor types would come on with all kinds of justifications for the ruining of a child’s life. Among their favorites, “to set an example for others.” For a more thorough look into the way prosecutors think we would refer you to the Nancy Grace show, on Headline News. A clearer look into the mindset of the breed you are not likely to see anytime soon.

Public perceptions of public nudity vary greatly throughout the world. Europeans look upon American nudity taboos as quaint at best, as topless and even nude beaches are frequently sprinkled throughout tropical Europe. And in Japan and other Asian countries nudity in public baths is quite common.

In these United States we seem to be experts at adopting the more extremes of the world’s public’s attitude towards nudity. We should relax and treat phenomenon like sex-ting as yet another harmless stage that an occasional teenager will pass through on his/her way to maturity, one which he/she will subsequently grow out of. It is certainly not the breach in the dam that will bring down our American way of life if it is not prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.§

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And as we throttle down this week’s Little Eddy Blog we would like to take note of that professional basketball team that most resembles the children’s story, The Little Engine That Could. The Houston Rockets began the 2009-2010 season without superstars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, and with TNT analyst Charles Barkley declaring them the worst team in the west with no chance of making the playoffs. But they have defied such predictions of doom with a record that at this time gives them 24-18 wins and puts them smack into the playoff race. Their margin of error is razor thin, and their success is predicated on none of the present roster being hurt for the remainder of the year.

But with guards Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry playing far above expectations, along with guard Trevor Ariza, and with Shane Battier’s relentless defense, and Chuck Hayes’ as undersized but effective center position, and the off the bench help from deservedly sixth man of the year Carl Landry, plus benchmates Chase Budinger and David Anderson, well, you have a team that’s way ahead of expectations. And one that is exciting as hell to follow night after night. Who knows where they will end up by the end of the season? It’s not the goal, but the journey to reach that goal that is exciting to watch. And it continually amazes me how their struggles, and their successes, affect those of us who root for them. Go Rockets!§

And so this week’s Little Eddy blog runs its course, and at any moment is likely to begin spilling over the edges of your monitor. Our health is improving, and our computer has been behaving itself, and what with the added time we have had to polish and embellish this week's blog, we have, we think, come up with a Little Eddy blog that is more fleshed out than our two more recent ones.

Doing our blog gets us out of bed in the morning, and keeps us out of mischief during the day. We hope you will surf your way back again anytime next week after our Saturday morning upload to Google, when at around 8 o’clock Central Standard time we put our latest rambling online. See you then. Bye, bye.

The Real Little Eddy §

Blog #124: Our Worst Nightmare

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Blog # 123: Down to Seeds and Twigs

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Congratulations to Cheech and Chong

For advocating the use of marijuana for its medicinal properties in such areas as appetite inducer and mood elevation over all of these years. And congratulations too on their seeing their hopes fulfilled just in time for them to make good use of it in their own quests to stay well.

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Are Republicans Being Really Stupid?

Or Are They Just Pretending?

Are Republicans really as stupid as they are pretending to be? This business of trying to connect what Sen. Harry Reid said during the elections about Barack Obama, with what Sen. Trent Lott said about how he had voted for a Dixiecrat, and if the rest of the country had joined him all of those unruly civil rights demonstrations might have been avoided is pretty lame at best, and the height of stupidity at worst.

Reid had told the author of the book Second Chance about how Obama’s lighter skin and his lack of a dialect should bode him well with voting Americans, observations that turned out to be completely accurate, by the way.

Some Republican zealots are trying to contrast this with the reaction that followed former Senate leader Trent Lott’s words at a birthday party for former Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond.

Lott’s implication was that if we had all followed his excellent example Thurmond would have been elected president, and we would have avoided all of those messy civil rights demonstrations, which was wishful thinking at best, as such a result would have undoubtedly intensified civil rights actions.

But in point of fact, Republicans were in power then, and it was Karl Rove who insisted that Trott be removed as the Republican Party’s Senate leader, Democrats had nothing to do with Sen. Lott’s subsequent removal.

Cheney’s observation was that the Reid episode highlighted a liberal double standard on issues of race. “One of the things that makes the American people frustrated is when they see time and time again liberals excusing racism from other liberals. And I think that, you know, clearly, Senator Reid's comments were outrageous.”

On the roundtable, George Will defended Reid against charges of racism and provoked a most spirited exchange with his fellow conservative Liz Cheney:

WILL: I don't think there's a scintilla of racism in what Harry Reid said. At long last, Harry Reid has said something that no one can disagree with, and he gets in trouble for it.

CHENEY: George, give me a break. I mean, talking about the color of the president's skin...

WILL: Did he get it wrong?

CHENEY: ... and the candidate's...

WILL: Did he say anything false?

CHENEY: ... it's -- these are clearly racist comments, George.

WILL: Oh, my, no.

That excellent example of good sense vs. Republican lockstep was found during Sunday Morning’s exchange between Liz Cheney and George Will on ABC’s This Week. It was incredible exchange, in which Will, by noting that “there was not a scintilla of racism in Reid’s comment” over Cheney’s loud recriminations otherwise, proves you can be conservative and honest at the same time, while Cheney got her undies in a twist by insisting on labeling Reid’s words describing Obama’s presidential possibilities as “racist.” We would have embeded it for you but we couldn’t find the necessary code. You can access it here, however be prepared to quit your browser and reconnect with us afterwards, as it does seem to go on to something else afterwards.

Of course 24 hour cable pounces on this kind of nonsense as a school of piranhas circles its floundering prey. And so the real question is, have Republicans completely lost their memory (and/or their minds), or do they think the rest of us have lost ours? And what’s with Wolf and the other anchors dutifully harping on it once an hour? Surely they know better? Please tell me, world, is Liz Cheney’s single minded persistence going to give this absurdity enough wings to fly? Or is she really just exhibiting how far out of the mainstream she and the others who would preach such a fantasy really are. Hey Liz, reason and logic are over here, in this corner of the room.

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The Last Supper, Hollywood Style.

Can you name these movie icons of the 20th Century? From left to right, Oliver Hardy, Stan Laurel, Elvis Pressley, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Boris Karloff, Marlon Brando.

Haiti, Gateway to Hell on Earth

Poor Haiti. After already serving the distinction of being one of the poorest countries in the world, good old mother nature serves up the final whammie in delivering an earthquake of the power of 7, which further tore down the many of the island’s structures. CNN seems to have half of it’s working staff on the Island Nation, but it’s the type of story which no matter what is overwhelming in its negative vibes. No way anything positive or uplifting can come out of such reporting.

And how about those two quintessential Christians, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. Fire and brimstone’s Robertson’s assertions that God wreaked the earthquake on Haiti because many years ago the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil to overthrow French rule. And Limbaugh claiming that the only reason Obama is supporting aid to the stricken nation is that he is trying to get himself in good with our country’s black population. The most depressing thing about our so-called “enlightened” America is that each of those quacks have large followings and make tons of money. Is there no justice?

However one good thing had come out of this gigantic mess. A way has been found to allow all cellphone owners to make a quick $10 donation to the American Red Cross for its disaster relief activities. Anyone with a mobile phone and an account with a major wireless carrier can simply text the phrase “Haiti” to the number 90999, which will automatically donate $10 to the Red Cross.

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Coolness Through the Ages

Top row, l to r: Mona Lisa, Michael Jackson, George Washington.
Bottom row, l to r: Abe Lincoln, e.t., Albert Einstein

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Let me devote part of this post to apologize for my last two posts. Not only were they short and incomplete, but though I reported fully on my computer problems, I had neglected to mention my health problems which were running concurrently with my computer problems. But in truth they deserve an equal place, and I’ll try make up for that lack at this point.

In addition to diabetes I also have two other happy conditions of age which I would not wish upon anyone with the possible exceptions of a Robertson or a Limbaugh, acid reflux which gives you problems with your esophagus, especially in the downing of certain foods, and last, but surely not least, osteoporosis, which for those of you as yet to be enlightened, is a weakening of the structure of the bones.

About a month ago I tripped over a wire and fell. I usually fall pretty good, meaning I’m relaxed and fall like your favorite little girl’s rag doll, which makes for a great deal less bone breakage. This time I got away with only a cut on my left wrist, which I had used to cushion my fall, and a pain in my left chest. I figured the chest pain was from a pulled muscle and that it would go away in a day or two. Not happening. It’s been at least three weeks now, and the pain is as strong as ever, which pretty well points to a fractured rib.

Why don’t I call and make an appointment with my doctor, and get it x-rayed to determine if there is truly a break? Well, as my son Joel, the doctor-in-residence in Phoenix, AZ was quick to point out, my doctor couldn’t do much of anything to help it heal, since it is a moving part of my rib cage. About all he could do is give me some kind of new, super pain killer. I had already figured out increasing my nightly painkiller Aleve as a work around, and have been taking an extra pill in the evening, to help regulate the pain for my nightly sleep in.

Much of my time that was wasted last week was due to my unsureness as to which road to take in regards to my computer. Should I attempt to open the case myself, and drive the roaches out with cans of compressed air. Or should I forget the replacement of the power supply, and hope that my computer operates for years to come. I have to tell you making the choice completely tore me apart. For although the Apple Genius Bar gave me 10 pages of instructions for opening an iMac case, neither of the men here read English, which left little confidence on my part of the project’s success at their hands. After seeking, but not getting help in opening the case from two local computer stores, I eventually decided to do nothing and take my chances on the device’s eventual longevity, but there’s no way to truly assess the wisdom of my decision without being able to see ahead to what the future holds.

However, the good side of making such a decision has been being able to have my computer with me day and night. I can’t adequately emphasize how much being without it, even for those few days, set me off. I normally spend from six to eight hours a day on the computer. I use it to read the news, to write and collect materials for my blog, and also to listen to music and watch videos. The LCD screen is the absolute equivalent of watching a High Definition television, the screen is just not as large. Plus I have my collection of erotic fiction on my extra hard drive. All in all, without my working computer I am like the original chicken with its head cut off. Cable television just isn’t up to the task of keeping me fully occupied.

And though the computer's future is up to the techgods, I can report that each day I get a little better in the health department, and hopefully in a week or two I will be completely back to normal. And be back to working on my blog from five to seven days a week again, instead of the past week's one or two days. And so here I do flesh out the story of why my last two blogs fell short. And honestly, I’m afraid this week’s entry is not that much better, although by starting this week’s on Thursday I did manage to get one extra day’s preparation in. So it is somewhat better, but nowhere near where it needs to be if I‘m going to expand the blog’s readership to internet standards.

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One element I have missed these past couple of weeks is my page of children’s camp memories. I’m sure there are some out there who regularly skip over those, not seeing how they relate to them. On the other hand, I have it from two of my former camp associates that those memories are what is bringing one after another former counselors and campers coming back for more.

In any case, I’m going to delve back into that compartment of my memory banks again this week, as I try and justify a family’s willingness to invest in such an experience for their children in this day and age of economic hard times.

One quality that campers had which made them of extreme interesting to me, was the quality of spontaneity which we have so strongly as children, but which these days aging, education, and other factors slowly whittle away. That is a quality which runs heavily through childhood, and takes the form of creative game play.

When I was a child there was no air conditioning, and no television, and consequently afternoons were spent playing with the neighborhood kids. Creative play in games like “cops and robbers” and war, meant that we got lots of physical exercise as well as the creative use of our imaginations, as we gave form to these games.

These days it seems to me the modern growing child spends much of his day in the air conditioned comfort of his living room, watching television. If his reflexes are tested at all it is with video games, most of which do little or nothing to contribute to the exercise of his body, even though the Nintendo Wii platform does seem to be reinserting exercise into the gaming curriculum.

Which is exactly why children’s summer camps have taken on such importance in the development of the modern day child. For camps offer much of what todays home environment does not. Plenty of exercise, creative activities, swimming, hiking and other exploratory activities. Not to mention the art of living and getting along with our peers, which is simultaneously fostered in the modern camp experience. A child who gets seven weeks of a healthy outdoors lifestyle, and even one who gets a mere three weeks, is far better of that one who doesn’t get such a chance.

A Final Farewell

From Wikipedia: Tsutomu Yamaguchi (16 March 1916 – 4 January 2010), was a Japanese national who survived both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during the Second World War. Although more than one hundred people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only man to have been officially recognised by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions.
A resident of Nagasaki, Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business for his employer Mitsubishi when the city was bombed on 6 August 1945. The following day he returned to Nagasaki and, despite his wounds, returned to work on 9 August, the day of the second atomic bombing. In 1957 he was recognized as a hibakusha (explosion-affected person) of the Nagasaki bombing, but it was not until 24 March 2009 that the government of Japan officially recognised his presence in Hiroshima three days earlier. We made note of his distinction at that time, and wish him a final farewell here. He died of stomach cancer in January 2010.

And so the grinding wheels of our blog finally come to a halt for this week. We are sorry we are not back to our usual level, but approach the coming week with renewed presence.

It is with a certain amount of sadness that we note the triumph of the chin over the hair in NBC's late night wars. To paraphrase the words which summed up the original King Kong back in the early thirties, "It was greed that felled the giant late-night network. Greed and Ignorance."

Well, that does it for us. Surf back our way sometime next week and see what we come up with. Meantime, good luck to the Democrats next week in Massachusetts. It would be an unspeakable irony if the loss of Sen. Ted Kennedy's former seat would be the factor to undo healthcare for another twenty years. Bye, bye.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Blog #122: Race to the Finish Line

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May you have a good new year, Mr. President!

The Great Race to Finish This Week’s Blog

The great race is on. Here it is Friday already and I have not one word written towards this week’s blog, which I am committed to upload to Google Saturday morning. Will I make it? Good question.

First off let me give you the status of my computer. You might remember that I took it into my local Apple store to have the power supply replaced after it had shut down, rather than staying asleep, last Thursday morning. Before I took it in, I uploaded my blog to Google, figuring that I would more or less be without a computer for a few days, and would do better with an incomplete blog than none at all.

This turned out to be not the case. I was given my computer back on Saturday morning, after the Apple Genius who worked on it determined it had roaches, and Apple Genuises do not work on roach filled machines.

Along with my computer they gave me a 10 page booklet with complete instructions on how to open up an iMac computer, saying if I open up the computer and get rid of the roaches by spraying them with cans of air, I can bring the computer back and they will install the new power supply.

However, there was one major problem with this. At 83 years of age, I am completely incompetent in the opening up of an iMac department, and neither of the men who live in my household read Spanish, much less the English the instructions were written in.

There is a Windows computer establishment over on Gessner street. I got the idea of asking them if they would open my computer, and later close it. I assured them that I would deal with the roaches, and not in their store. The young man consulted the store’s owner, only to report back that the owner says their store “does not touch Apple products with a 10 foot pole.” What? A computer store which would not touch an Apple product with a 10 foot pole? What kind of computer store would that be?

There was still hope. I took my proposition to Micro Center, a store which does sell and service Apple Computers as well as Windows. The person I talked to told me she for such an unorthodox proposition she would have to consult with her manager, who did not come in until noon, but she assured me she would call me back. She did not call me back, consequently there was no way I was going to be able to get my iMac de-roached by the 9th of Jan, 2010, at which date my Apple Care warranty runs out.

The Interior of an Apple Store

Does this make me disillusioned about Apple Computer, and turn me from a fanboy into into a venom-spewing, anti-Apple enthusiast? No way, Josè, for the basic truth remains that Apple, more than any other electronics manufacturer, has its excrement together, and delivers by far the best experience whether you are into computers, or music players, or multi purpose smart phones. And later this month the rumor mill has Apple introducing a device in a category all its own, a tablet device which word has it will be called iSlate.

I’m sorry Apple’s Genuis Bar technicians won’t work on roach filled computers. In Houston it is very difficult to keep roaches out of our electronic equipment. And as I always say, if roaches were truly harmful to us then we citizens of Houston would all be be dead years ago. However, I can understand their reticence. I can imagine their consternation as the roaches in my iMac suddenly poured out of my computer to pollute every other computer in the store.

And so we will be forced to reluctantly take our chances. If my computer subsequently dies on me, so be it. It is just not to be, at this period of my life, that I am able to open up the computer of my dreams in order to put an end to its roach population. Next subject.

Steve Jobs looking out for you

Greenpeace Labels Apple Greenest of Computer Makers

According to Sam Oliver, writing in the Apple Insider blog, After falling prey to harsh criticism from Greenpeace over its use of toxic chemicals in products for years on end, Apple was honored this week with the environmental advocacy group's top ranking as the greenest electronics maker. "It's time for a little less conversation and a lot more action on removing toxic chemicals," said Casey Harrell, Greenpeace International Electronics campaigner. "Apple is leading and HP is playing catch up, but the lack of action from other companies is ensuring that customers and the environment are still losing out."

The Cupertino-based Mac and iPhone maker received gold stars in all four categories identified in Greenpeace's latest electronics guide: desktops, notebooks, cellphones and displays. In each case, the firm said Apple's products were free of the worst hazardous substances plaguing modern-day electronics.

"Companies need to support legislative bans to ensure a consistent phase out of PVC and BFRs across all electronic products," Harrell added. "Sony Ericsson and Apple are already calling on EU institutions to support such a ban. Other big players, such as HP and Dell – who have so far been silent - and Acer, need to ensure the ban is passed in the European Union parliament."

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What Makes Apple So Great?

Just what makes Apple products so great? you might well ask. Well, I’m so glad you asked. Apple goes out of its way to insure that its operating system stays out of your way, insuring that the best possible experience awaits each user as he/she uses the equipment. People in the know would name Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, as the main reason for this. Steve has a lot of interesting quirks about him, included the highest bar of secrecy in the computer business, but it has been generally credited to Jobs the Apple obsession with creating the most user friendly environments for personal computers, music players, and lately cellphones.

It is not enough that Apple’s music players work from day one. With the iTunes store Apple has made the most easy-to-use environment for downloading music from the web. As a result the music industry has been saved from the perils of music piracy, and the online iTunes store has become the largest purveyor of music in the country, surpassing WalMart well over a year ago.

In setting up an environment for it’s iPhone users to be able to buy apps (applications), Apple has created an environment which has greatly extended the usefulness of their devices. And in the same way, Apple has created the most successful series of retail stores in the nation. It has done this in the face of Gateway stores closing down, and in a time of national depression. Apple created these stores because it realized that no matter how good their computers were, they would not get a fair shake in computer stores selling primarily Windows computers. And from the website iClarified come some interesting statistics concerning Apple Stores.

• Sales per store—$26 million, which is just below what Macy's, Target and Best Buy make per store. But, if you look at the real estate, it's a slightly different picture. Apple Stores do sales of $4,300 per square foot which is 5x the $872 per square foot Best Buy does.

• Over 100,000 applicants on file for jobs at the Apple Store worldwide. 10,000 people submitted applications for the new Upper West Side store. Just over 200 got a job.

• Apple realized they were going too small with their stores, so now all of their stores will be at least "three tables wide." In other words, they're going to be bigger. They're also going to be opening more stores next year, more like 50. More of them will be "significant stores," iconic ones like the Fifth Ave. store with the Apple Cube. And they'll be going more international, adding stores all over Europe, like the UK, Paris and two in Shanghai getting those "significant stores."

And so you can easily see that in spite of my own personal difficulties in relation to the Apple Stores, that as heart I am the same committed fanboy I have always been.

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Since I was not able to work on this week's blog until Friday morning, it is not surprising that I have run out of things to write about already. However, take cheer, as I think of things to write about I will attempt to add to this blog as the week rolls on. Meantime, you're reached the end of this week's rather Apple centered edition of Little Eddy. Check back later in the week to see what we've added. Meantime, hang in there. Health care is coming. The only question is will it be in our lifetime, or that of our kids? Bye bye.

The Real Little Eddy §