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 §

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