Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blog # 143: A New King of Technology

A Supersized World

Calories With Those Fries?

Stop the Presses! There is a brand new King of Technology! The New York Times reports:

New King of Technology: Apple Overtakes Microsoft By MIGUEL HELFT and ASHLEE VANCE Published: May 26, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple, the maker of iPods, iPhones and iPads, overtook Microsoft, the computer software giant, on Wednesday to become the world’s most valuable technology company.

In intraday trading shortly after 2:30 p.m., Apple shares rose 1.8 percent, which gave the company a value of $227.1 billion. Shares of Microsoft declined about 1 percent, giving the company a market capitalization of $226.3 billion.

Technology’s New King!

The only American company valued higher is Exxon Mobil, with a market capitalization of $282 billion.

This changing of the guard caps one of the most stunning turnarounds in business history, as Apple had been given up for dead only a decade earlier. But the rapidly rising value attached to Apple by investors also heralds a cultural shift: Consumer tastes have overtaken the needs of business as the leading force shaping technology.

Microsoft, with its Windows and Office software franchises, has dominated the relationship most people had with their computers for almost two decades and that was reflected in its stock market capitalization. But the click-clack of the keyboard has ceded ground to the swoosh of a finger across a smartphone’s touch-screen.

“It is the single most important turnaround that I have seen in Silicon Valley,” said Jim Breyer, a venture capitalist who has invested in some of the most successful technology companies.

”Microsoft depends more on maintaining the status quo, while Apple is in a constant battle to one-up itself and create something new,” said Peter A. Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook. “Apple is a bet on technology,” he said. “And Apple beating Microsoft is a very significant thing.”

“The battle has shifted from Microsoft against Apple to Apple against Google,” said Tim Bajarin, a technology analyst who has been following Apple since 1981. “Apple has a significant lead. But Google is going to be a powerful competitor.”

Apple and Microsoft initiated the personal computing revolution in the late 1970s, but Microsoft quickly outflanked Apple and grew to be one of the most profitable businesses ever created.

A little more than a decade ago, Apple, which had pushed out Mr. Jobs in 1985, was widely believed to be on the path to extinction. Michael S. Dell, the founder and chief executive of Dell computer, went so far as to suggest that Apple should shut down and return any money to shareholders. (The computer maker is now worth about a tenth of Apple.) Around the same time, Microsoft’s chief technology officer called Apple “already dead.”

But with the return of Mr. Jobs to Apple in 1996 — and an investment by Microsoft of $150 million — the company began a slow path to recovery. Apple’s rebirth began in earnest with the introduction of the iPod music players, and Mr. Jobs began to gain a reputation for anticipating what consumers want. The company elbowed aside Sony and came to dominate the music distribution business with the iTunes online music store.

It later upstaged Nokia, the dominant brand in mobile phones, by introducing the iPhone in 2007. And this year, Mr. Jobs shook things up again, with the introduction of the iPad, a tablet computer that has the potential to create a new category of computers and once again reshape the way people interact with their devices.

Mr. Jobs helped create “the best desktop computer, the best portable music device, the best smartphone and also now the best tablet,” said Steve Perlman, a serial entrepreneur who was an executive at both Apple and Microsoft and is now the chief executive of OnLive, an online gaming company.

Still, Microsoft is a hugely powerful and profitable company in the tech world. . . But Apple has the momentum. “Steve saw way early on, and way before Microsoft, that hardware and software needed to be married into something that did not require effort from the user,” said Scott G. McNealy, the co-founder and longtime chief executive of Sun Microsystems.

“Apple’s products are shrink-wrapped and ready to go. The full story may be found here! •

And as for Apple finally overtaking Microsoft in value, this is no surprise to those of us who are characterized by Microsofties world wide as Apple Fan Boys. In truth, we knew there was more value in an ounce of an Apple products as in a ton of Microsoft vapor ware. Microsoft seemed to require controlling the pc industry to flourish, and when it belatedly discovered the web and decided to try and extend its os domination to the world wide web, it killed Netscape by offering its web browser, Internet Explorer, for free (in Microsoft’s own words) to cut off Netscape’s air supply. Ultimately this brought the government’s antimonopoly forces down on it, which considered forcing the company’s breakup. And the European Union has fined Microsoft megabucks and forced it to offer competitor’s web browsers in the European Union sales.

˜ † ˜

Word is the government is investigating Apple’s almost complete domination of the music business. However, when all is said and done I think they will find that Apple did nothing more to dominate the music player business than build a better player, and then work out a system for buying music that was only competitive with the sources of stealing music. If the iTunes store is easier to use than Amazon’s mp3 store, there is nothing anti-competitive about that.

˜ † ˜

Anyone around here sentimental? The “I’m a P.C., I’m a Mac ads are finally history. But someone has cleverly strung pieces of each one together into one whole. Taking a cue from Steve Jobs famous line at Apple product introductions, it’s called, “One More Thing,” of course starring John Hodgeman and Justin Long. •

Mark Twain Autobiography Finally Coming

As we head into week number 143 of our blog, there are several headlines of interest. The 100th anniversary of the death of Mark Twain has passed, and to celebrate it the institution which houses his autobiography will begin its publication. Twain devoted the last ten years of his life to its writing, but directed that it be withheld from publication for 100 years from his death. The 100 aniversary of his death occurred on April 21st, and according to the publishers his long awaited autobiography will be released in 3 volumes, the first coming out this fall. The full story may be accessed here!

˜ † ˜

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain

And someone name Michael Jordon reports at that:

Every year at the end of May, Mark Twain pushes aside the lid on his coffin, claws his way out of the fetid soil, and tries to anoint a new recipient of The Mark Twain Prize For American Humor, the prize granted to the funniest people in the world! This year, the deserving winner is Tina Fey, comedienne extraordinaire and my and every other comedy geek's future girlfriend if there is any justice in this world. Fey's career highlights include a nine year stint on Saturday Night Live, six Emmys and two Golden Globes for her TV series "30 Rock" (which she stars in, writes, and produces), and a successful movie career that's included such hits as Mean Girls and Date Night. Fey is only the third woman to win the award, after Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin won it in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

Tina Fey wins the 2010 Mark Twain Award

At 40, Fey is also the youngest person to ever receive the award— I’m going to assume it comes in the shape of a solid gold vibrating sex toy— which will be handed out on November 13 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The ceremony will include “a night of humor featuring other comic stars.” Other comic stars? Count me in!

Previous winners of The Mark Twain Prize For American Humor include Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, and George Carlin. No word yet on whether Twain specifically requested Fey in his 100 year old diary that will finally be released this year, or if the marching orders are coming from zombie Twain. Either way, all the 30 Rock geeks should be pretty excited.

– ☯ –

Spectators in Phoenix hold signs protesting Arizona's controversial new immigration law during Telemundo's morning show broadcast of "Levántate," which featured an interview with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. Photo: Mark Henle-AP

With the uproar over Arizona’s new racial profiling immigration law resounding all over the nation, most people are forgetting one rather important fact. Although people of Mexican descent who were not born in Arizona are called illegal, the fact is that ten years after the successful Texas revolution in 1836, in its first action after Texas joined the union the United States dispatched its army and invaded Mexico, and after conquering the country, forced Mexico to cede not only Texas but all of Mexico’s territories west of Texas to the United States. From Wikipedia:

The Mexican–American War was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution.

In addition to a naval blockade of the Mexican coast, American forces invaded and conquered New Mexico, California and parts of northern Mexico. Another American army captured Mexico City, forcing Mexico to agree to the sale of its northern territories to the U.S.

Territories which included New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and California, were paid for, but under terms under which Mexico was given no choice other than accept. Houston Federal Judge Woodrow Seals, who ruled that the State of Texas must educate the children of those in Texas illegally reflected this knowledge of the original ursurpation of Mexican lands in making his ruling.

Many of the nation’s “gringos,” English only white protestants, who would wish to pack “illegals” off to their country of origin and making them to go to the back of the line to apply for legal re-admittance, support this point of view making no mention of the way the United States wrested Texas and all states to its west from Mexico, all the while decrying totalitarian states which annex their neighbors territory by force.

Whatever form the solution of America’s illegal immigrant problem might finally take, somewhere within it should be an acknowledgment of the true origins of states like Arizona, and why Mexican nationals deserve special treatment in their quest for citizenship. And under no condition should racial profiling be used by law enforcement agencies to single out suspected illegals.

– ☯ –

A roseate spoonbill passes a gull over an island in the Barataria Bay on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. The island is home to thousands of brown pelicans, egrets and roseate spoonbills, many of which are now stained by oil. Officials say that it might be impossible to clean the hundreds of miles of coastal wetlands and islands affected by the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which continues gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: John Moore-Getty Images

And from out It’s About Damn Time! Department, the FDA announced that it is considering a product known as “viagra” for women. Rob Stein writing in the Washington Post reports:

A panel of federal advisers will soon wrestle with a question that has bedeviled poets, philosophers and generations of frustrated men: What do women want?

That enigma will be part of a Food and Drug Administration committee's deliberations next month when it considers endorsing the first pill designed to do for women what Viagra did for men: boost their sex lives. A German pharmaceutical giant wants to sell a drug with the decidedly unsexy name "flibanserin," which has shown prowess for sparking a woman's sexual desire by fiddling with her brain chemicals.

For the full story go here!

– ☯ –

Here We Go Again!

My appointment with my new oncologist is Friday, June 4 at 3:30. Here we go again.

Several years ago I was sent to a different oncologist, who did a bone marrow test and declared I had chronic myloid leukemia. He began a treatment which damn near killed me, it made me drive my car off the road, and got me so I couldn’t eat food.

I took myself off of that medication and enrolled in the VA hospital, where they did a bone marrow test which found I did not have c.m.l. and I breathed easier. Several years have gone by since then, but thanks to a recent blood test guess what? My white corpuscles are once again raging out of control. And so I have scheduled an appointment with yet another oncologist. Next week’s blog should have an update on that visit.

Meantime here is what I learned from my last experience with chronic myeloid leukemia. At that time there was only one drug which controlled the condition. It was called Gleevec and it’s monthly dose was priced back then at $3,000. At the time of my original diagnosis my son Joel, who is a licensed medical doctor and psychiatrist, got me enrolled in the Veteran’s Administration under the assumption that the V.A. would furnish Gleevec if required; although the V.A. does not list Gleevec as a drug it provides, it does point out occasional use of special drugs.

It was funny, after the recent diagnosis I said to myself, how could this be as I don’t seem to have any symptoms? Then it slowly sank in to me that I most certainly do have symptoms. For once thing I bruise and bleed easily, and am frequently covered with bruise like discolorations on my arms, bruises which I have no memory of getting.

And of course my newest symptom which consists of very intense naps, three a day following meals. And on some days even more. Worst thing is I usually sleep through the first three quarters of the NBA regional finals, waking up just in time to see the last quarter.

The Heart and Soul nebulae is displayed in this infrared mosaic from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE. The image covers an area of the sky in the constellation Cassiopeia over 10 times as wide as the full moon and eight times as high. Located about 6,000 light-years from Earth, the Heart and Soul nebulae form a vast star-forming complex that makes up part of the Perseus spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy. Photo: NASA-AP

And so as our space cruiser banks around the Heart and Soul Nebulae and heads on track for a return to the third planet from the sun, we find it’s time to once again take leave of our little blog.

We put up a new one every Saturday morning after breakfast, and it stays up the entire week, except for those rare occasions where we slip something in after the original post. We hope you’ll come back again next week, same URL, for our next edition. Meantime, bye now, be good, and if you can’t be good, have fun being bad. Bye, bye.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blog # 142: Tea Party Smoking, Not!

Welcome to Arizona!

– ☯ –

Political Goulash

If you’re into politics chances are you had your eyes on several races last Tuesday. Pundits the tube over claimed explanations as to what it all meant, but the simple truth is, even the experts are confused. The only thing they mostly agree on is if the November elections were held today incumbents would be in deep trouble.

But even this is more than likely to change as November is still months away, and the electorate is as fluid as the ocean. Jobs will most likely be the big influence come November, plus the public’s approval or disapproval of health care reform and the new bill regulating the banking industry.

As for last Tuesday, the most interesting race was the Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania where recently switched Republican to Democrat Arlen Specter ran neck to neck with an ex-Navy retired admiral Joe Sestak. The Democrats in the region who had voted against Republican Specter for many years, continued their tradition Tuesday making Sestak the winner in spite of ringing Specter endorsements from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendel and the entire Democratic hierarchy. So much for a president’s coattails and party influence.

The Republicans didn’t do a damn bit better, as GOP minority Senate leader, Mitch McConnell watched Tea Party endorsed Rand Paul defeat his hand-picked Senate candidate, Republican Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. Dr. Paul, son of Texas Congressman and Libertarian darling Ron Paul, declared his victory a landmark defeat of the establishment and declared the new rising of the Tea Party. And he exposed the Tea Party’s real agenda as he initially expressed his desire to take back the civil rights act, Social Security, and Medicare, positions he quickly denied at political wags pointed out the implications of such stances in relation to the general election.

And so it went. A final surprise was Democrat candidate, Mark Critz, winning the remainder of the term of the Congressional seat held for many years by the late Jack Murtha. Republicans had held hope and poured money into the campaign because the district was one of the few in Pennsylvania which had voted for John McCain in 2008. But Critz was victorious in the end.

"The voters of this district won a great victory tonight. But it's ... bittersweet," Critz said in remarks prepared to address his supporters at a Johnstown victory party, "because we wouldn't be here right now if Jack Murtha hadn't left us too soon."

And Republicans desperately hoping to see a rising tide of backlash against President Obama and the Democrats, ended up seeing nothing of the kind. Tsk, tsk. §

– ☯ –

Giving BP its Due

A protester holds a sign behind BP America President Lamar McKay, who was testifying about the gulf oil spill before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Photo: Kevin Lamarque-Reuters

– ☯ –

Real Story of Gulf Leak

60 Minutes reclaimed much of its glory of old Sunday as it broadcast the true story of the disaster which killed the workers and kicked off the largest oil leak in the history of the planet.

The 60 Minutes testimony plus the New Orleans Time-Picayune story cited in the Daily Beast rundown below, casts gigantic suspicions on the way oil companies are regulated.

The famous Bush/Cheney Energy policy, determined by the oil industry itself in cahoots with vice-president Cheney, was developed in complete secrecy, and remains secret to this very day. The courts have refused to even release records of who Cheney met with, much less who came up with what.

This horrific spill is the result, and the disaster cries for some entity to reopen America’s offshore drilling rules and go over them with a fine tooth comb. Isn’t it interesting that Halliburton, Cheney’s former company, was one of the three entities involved in this mess, the other two being BP and Deepwater Horizon, which evidently owned the rig?

When all is said and done, and the last bit of tar and petroleum remains has finally disintegrated let us hope that future offshore oil contracts are dispensed under careful supervision, with the entities involved held strictly accountable. §

– ☯ –

A Beast of an Aggregator

One of our favorite sources of news is the Daily Beast, edited by the legendary Tina Brown. The Beast is primarily a news aggregator, although it also has a sterling roster of original contributors. It assembles its news in a way that is truly unlike other aggregators. It’s primary aggregation column is called the Cheat Sheet, which has brief summaries of other paper's stories, with a link to the original source at the bottom should you wish to pursue the matter further. We have picked out several items which appeared on Thursday and which piqued our interest.

˜ † ˜

As if we needed any more evidence of BP’s culpability in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster: The company expelled a safety crew from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig before it had a chance to perform a crucial test just hours before the rig actually exploded. BP never asked the crew to perform the so-called acoustic test, which a cementing company executive calls “the only test that can really determine the actual effectiveness” of the well’s seal. It is believed that the explosion was caused by failed cement seals, which were installed by Halliburton and which allowed for an explosive build-up of natural gas. Read it at the New Orleans Time-Pacayune! §

˜ † ˜

Sister Margaret McBride – Defrocked

She’d have been better off molesting children, apparently: The Catholic Church, whose reluctance to punish pedophile priests is much publicized, has excommunicated a nun from Phoenix who allowed a woman under her care to receive a life-saving abortion. The woman, who was 11-weeks pregnant with her fifth child, had “right heart failure” and the odds of her dying if she continued the pregnancy were “close to 100 percent.”

So Sister Margaret McBride, the administrator of the Catholic hospital, allowed doctors to perform an abortion. The woman survived, but Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted excommunicated McBride for allowing the procedure.

“She consented in the murder of an unborn child,” says the medical-ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix. McBride remains at the hospital in another position. Read it at NPR! §

˜ † ˜

Wikileaks, the website which has gained a following for exposing secrets, is keeping plenty of its own. There's no address, phone number, or formal list of employees. But the site has become a leading destination for anonymous whistleblowers who want to expose government malfeasance or corruption.

Just last month, Wikileaks made headlines for releasing a U.S. military video of a helicopter attack on Iraqis. Secrecy is part of Wikileaks' strategy as it allows the site to continue without threat of government interference.

"The message of WikiLeaks to the controllers of information is this: You can either be transparent, or transparency will be brought to you," one of the site's directors told The Washington Post. Read it at the Washington Post! §

˜ † ˜

This will either end greatly or horribly: American scientists announced on Thursday that they have created the “first synthetic living cell.” Dr. Craig Venter and a team of scientists created a synthetic genome that can be transplanted into a host cell; the cell then behaves according to what is “dictated” by the synthetic DNA.

Venter explained, "As soon as this new software goes into the cell, the cell reads [it] and converts into the species specified in that genetic code." Scientists hope that such cells will one day produce medicines and fuels and absorb greenhouse gases.

Some scientists worry though that the cells could be dangerous: "If you release new organisms into the environment, you can do more harm than good," said Dr. Helen Wallace of GeneWatch UK. "By releasing them into areas of pollution, you're releasing a new kind of pollution.” Read it at BBC! §

˜ † ˜

Celebrities don’t always get off easy: TMZ reports that a judge has issued a bench warrant for Lindsay Lohan’s arrest after she skipped a court date on Thursday morning.

Lohan claims that she couldn’t fly back from France to make the date because her passport was stolen, though French police say she never reported a stolen passport.

A source at U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Lohan will be arrested when she returns to the country. Read it at TMZ!

Might we suggest Ms Lohan consider joining Roman Polanski in his Swiss chalet. Perhaps it could become a gathering place for all future American celebrity fugitives.

And isn’t it interesting how much more the Catholic Church hierarchy seems to value the unborn over the living? Or maybe it’s just women that they don’t value very highly. §

Women walk past a billboard for the film "Gulliver's Travels" in front of the Carlton Hotel during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival in France. Photo: Christian Hartmann-Reuters

”Me” and “We” – We are Both

Sick and Tired of “Balanced” News

After faithfully returning to CNN after the Democratic wins of 2006 and 2008, lately I have drifted away, to msnbc of all places. I didn’t think about it or try to justify it, I just did it. Once in awhile I’ll track back to Wolf’s Situation Room, and weekends I won’t go anywhere near msnbc because of those weird documentaries, so I’m back at CNN. But most all of every weekday is divided between msnbc, and in the evening whichever station is broadcasting an NBA game.

In writing this week’s blog I finally figured out why it is that I switched. I got sick and tired of the way CNN would dig up these tired dinosaurs of Republicanism every time a political story came up, just so their news would be balanced. Unconsciously, inwardly, I seemed to have made a decision; I no longer wanted my news to be “balanced,” I wanted it to offer a point of view.

And strangely enough, although the nerd in me has heretofore caused me to shy away from everything with ms (Microsoft) in its title, I finally put aside my prejudice and drank the coffee. And Morning Joe has since become my morning addiction, as has the Daily Rundown after Morning Joe, and Andrea Mitchell’s show which comes on in Houston at noon.

Don’t get me wrong, I think every side of every issue should get a full airing. I just don’t want the Republican and Conservative line dutifully shoved down my throat. Let Fox and Rush cover that side of things, enough of it will seep over so that I know what’s what without having that nonsense shoveled into my psyche.

However, when you boil down the two areas to their essence the truth of the matter is that most of us contain both points of view and flit from one side of the conflict to the other, because parties like Democrat and Republican and splinter groups like the Tea Party, are all expressions of one of the two sentiments we all carry within us, the “me” and the “we.”

The “me” side is ever looking out for Number One, and wants laws that tax and restrict the least. That selfish side of us is certainly and violently against a tax code being used to attempt to even the disparity between the rich and the poor. In other words, they are are against the income tax which taxes the rich at a higher rate than the middle classes and the poor.

Even the word tax is abhorrent to the “me” extremists, their favorite tax, if indeed there has to be one, is what they call a “value added” tax, that which the rest of us know as a sales tax. Since under this you only pay for what you use, the no-tax freaks feel this is the way to go, whereas the realists among us realize that this method of taxation would put a disproportionate high level of taxation on the poor and the middle class.

The problem with this system came to the forefront when under Bush/Cheney Republicans put through those tax cuts for the very rich, and followed that starting two major wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on top of that, not willing to reengage a national draft which would have adequately staffed the military, had corporations take over the feeding, maintenance and security of the troops and diplomats at a cost considerably higher than if the chores had been handled by the military itself.

As if that was not enough they then passed what we’ll grant was a much needed prescription drug relief for seniors, but again without allotting funds to pay for it, and finally they belatedly cleaned up after Hurricane Katrina also without paying for it.

After coming into office with a Bill Clinton surplus, in eight years Bush/Cheney had more than doubled the national debt, and bowed out leaving the nation’s economy in a mess. And Republicans have fought every Obama attempt to clean up the nation’s fiscal mess, leaving intelligent people to realize that they are working not for our country’s success, but for it to fail. Rush Limbaugh, who proclaims himself a GOP leader, has said as much, making that plain and clear.

Those of us whose “we” side is dominant over the “me”, look at things somewhat differently. We realize that government is expensive and has to be paid for, but we think of our society as a community, one that needs to take care of those who are in need. And so we feel a method of taxation which has people pay as a percentage of their wealth is the only fair method. Our system of government should require that we put into the tax coffers a percentage of what we have gotten out of the government, with those taking more out putting a higher percentage in.

The other thing the “me” crowd can’t stand is regulations. These are the rules that businesses, banks and industry are required to play by that keep greed from driving our economy into the ditch. Republicans fight regulations tooth and nail, never mind that they aren’t capricious, but were inserted to correct a past imbalance or deficiency in our system which allowed a particular situation to happen. The Republicans will never admit this as they merrily go on their way trying to deregulate banking and business, but government is very necessary to oversee business to prevent it from taking advantage of its customers or abusing its wage earners. §

A pelican, looking like he’s in need of the First Lady’s Obesity program, crouches in an outdoor enclosure of the Hagenbeck zoo in Hamburg. Photo: Axel Heimken-AP

– ☯ –

Facebook’s Transparent Attempt to Own Us

I recently got an email from someone I don’t know inviting me to join Facebook so I could check out his photos and videos. I must admit, I have been very skeptical of Facebook for a number of reasons. I am emphatically against joining something everyone else has joined on general principle. Plus, Facebook seems to be ignoring its members privacy concerns by every now and then by opening more of their private data to ever widening groups. Also legitimate charges have been brought against Mark Zuckerberg, its founder, including the fact that he seems to secretly wants to rule the web.

The person trying to get me to join is named Sean McCarthy, who announces he has 46 friends, and who then says, “I set up a Facebook profile where I can post my pictures, videos and events and I want to add you as a friend so you can see it. First, you need to join Facebook! Once you join, you can also create your own profile.”

Then came an ad from something called Crosstown News, which I suppose is a Facebook app which then thanks me for joining Facebook and invites me to use its service.

The coup de grace lay below, where Mr. McCarthy listed some of his friends that I might know, and the list included both of my sons, Daniel and Joel, plus a friend of Daniel’s named Peter, and one of my ex-wife’s sisters, Christy.

Viola! It suddenly becomes clear why Facebook has had such explosive growth. Any normal person would certainly be moved by such a compelling invitation to immediately take a few simple steps to join the thing. Especially when joining is completely free and the invitation includes the names of relatives who have supposedly joined Facebook and are on this person’s list of friends.

But when I checked with Joel, he reported never having heard of the guy. In other words, somehow the guy had claimed a list of names of people who I might know, but at least in Joel’s case it was a lie. He had never heard of the guy. I didn’t bother checking with the others.

But it is also beginning to become apparent why the query “how do I – delete my Facebook account” which Google reports is now fifth on its “how do I” list, is so ranked. And each time Zuckerberg & Company pull yet another stunt indicating that once you join, it is THEY, not you, that own your data, yet another round of withdrawals begins. However, whether or not this will slow Facebook in its quest to obtain its stated goal of 500 million members by the end of this year is unknown.

Joel denying knowing Sean McCarthy throws an entirely different light on the subject. How that person got my name, and those of my sons and wife’s sister, I have no idea. I don’t even know if this is a real person, or a persona on Facebook’s staff paid to solicit new members. Joel, who has a MySpace page, and is leaning towards getting a Facebook page of his own, has a good reason for wanting one. In addition to his psychiatry, after he graduates late next month, he is also pursuing a singing career, as Joe Bad X, and he had the digital equivalents of three CD’s for people to buy, should they so desire.

And so Sean McCarthy, if you are a real person, and not a Facebook recruiter, email me again and explain yourself further, including how you came across my sons’ and wife’s sister’s name. It won’t entice me to join but it sure will clear up a lot of my questions. §

– ☯ –

Apple C.E.O. Steve Jobs with iPad

– ☯ –

Apple’s Not Intractable, Always

For all of you Apple detractors out there who love to harp on Steve Jobs’ intractability we have news for you. Aside from the fact that Jobs is the only CEO to reply directly to customer emails, even when they are from bloggers who live off stolen rumors, Apple, admittedly arbitrary on many issue, will change its mind. ABC News found that out when it reported on the story of a woman who had saved up her money to buy an iPad, only to find out the Apple store wouldn’t sell it to her. They only sell iPads with credit or debit cards. However after ABC news ran the story the Apple store relented, and not only reversed the rule, but hand delivered the lady’s iPad.

Three More iPad Stories

Three other Apple iPad stories floated up in the news on Friday morning. John Paczkowski reports in his All Things Digital column that Apple is selling more iPads than Macs here! Gregg Keizer in Computer World reports that iPad owners report satisfaction numbers in the “nose bleed” range says pollster, and predicts that 1 in 5 will buy an iPad. You can read it here! And finally, iPads all the rage in the halls of Congress, which you can read about here! §

– ☯ –

And so we hereby wind down this week’s Little Eddy blog. We keep ourselves out of mischief by spending much of our week by first gathering material, and then writing it up in html. And finally at breakfast time on Saturday mornings we upload the fruit of our week’s endeavors to Google Blogger.

In all likelihood this is what will happen all over again next week, and you can confirm this for yourself by coming back any time after Saturday (but before the following Saturday.) Meantime on occasions we slip things into our blog after our initial upload, as happened last week when on Sunday we added Bill Mayers take on getting Steve Jobs to run the country.

Anyway, enough is enough, if not way too much. Come back when you can. And until we meet again, bye bye, and watch what you wish for. §

The Real Little Eddy §
Blog # 142: Tea Party Smoking, Not!Blog # 142: Tea Party Smoking, Not!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Blog 141: Sticks, Stones, & Sandbags

Sandbagging an Oil Slick

A National Guard helicopter drops sandbags to fill a breach in the beach just west of Grand Isle, La. Officials hope to protect the fragile marshland from an approaching oil slick. Photo: Ted Jackson-AP

– ☯ –

Like Father, Like Son?

In my guitar picking years I very much admired the finger picking styles of first Josh White, then as I got further into real folk music, the guitar styles of the likes of Libba Cotton, Mance Lipscomb, and most especially the intricate finger picking of Mississippi John Hurt.

It seemed to me their distinctive picking styles made the guitar a fuller, more complex and complete instrument, offering not only rhythmic chording for the song, but also a hypnotically compelling bass pattern, against which complex treble patterns are rendered.

Plus the styles led to more interaction between singer and guitar, as the instrument would frequently take over mid line from the singer, complimenting his mood, or laughing at him as he is crying out his pain.

Mississippi John Hurt first surfaced at about the same time as the Carter Family of country music fame, the late twenties and early thirties. Then many years went by before he again resurfaced, having been rediscovered living comfortably in the Mississippi town of Avalon, which he had sung about during his early recording years. He was rediscovered just in time for the great folk music revival of the mid-sixties. Like the others I mentioned above, Mississippi John Hurt was re-recorded in full fidelity and got to perform in several Folk Festivals, including the grand daddy of all folk festivals, the Newport Festival.

My son, Joel Alan Badeaux, who these days mixes psychiatry with equal helpings of music as Joe Bad X, has a new video out. It features one of one of Mississippi John Hurt’s finest songs, Payday. Joel, who was born months after Hurt’s death, didn’t have the privilege of overlapping his life with that of Hurt’s, but he has been a faithful student of Hurt’s unique guitar style, as is quite evident in the throbbing guitar bass pattern which meters his performance of Payday. Also, as with his inspiration, Joel frequently lets his guitar take over the singing for him.

In this day and age of the YouTube video, and the ease with which its data can be embedded onto our websites, we at the Little Eddy Blog take great pleasure in bringing you Joel’s latest video, his cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Payday. As you who click on the arrow below are due to find out, Hurt’s groundbreaking guitar style is in good hands, or fingers, as it were.

What a world this is, where the tools for recording your own music are abundant and within the means of most anybody wishing to use them. Even video cameras are cheap, and tools for crafting YouTube videos and then uploading them, are easily within most anyone’s reach.

However, I should point out that although Joel’s first video, the Public Enemy cover, “You’re Gonna Get Yours” was completely self produced, his new one, Payday, was produced and realized by a professional videographer, leaving the important things, the music and the performance, to Joel. The video was directed by David C. Snyder and co-produced by David C. Snyder and Jess B. Rankin for Command Pictures and SLAMjamz Records.

As an ironic footnote to Joel’s story, he is scheduled to graduate his residency in June, and plans to practice Psychiatry in Arizona, which is probably an excellent decision, for after the Arizona governor signed the nation’s first law making racial profiling a way of life, and the rest of the nation begins to cut its ties and boycotts the state, the few people left are going to need a whopping amount of psychiatry. And a lament about Payday sounds like it just might be signaling a new way of life. Perhaps the singer can tote the governor back to her mama by next payday. §

– ☯ –

Bill Mayer FLASH – America Needs Jobs


While surfing for embed data that would take you to Joe Bad X 5’s site, we came across this delightful video by Bill Mayer, which we could not resist bringing you. This shows you why it sometimes pay to check out L. E.’s Blog more than once during the week.

Returning the Wild to the Wild

Charlie Pelizza and Sharon Taylor of the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service return a black gannet to the Gulf of Mexico near Vero Beach, Fla. Photo: Rick Silva-AP

– ☯ –

President Obama’s Job Rating Okay With Us

There seems to be a roiling dissatisfaction on the part of a certain segment of the U.S. electorate over the job performance of President Barack Obama. Tea Party types seem to twisted their underwear over the present level of our taxes, even though thanks to Obama’s new tax roll back, we are currently paying taxes equal to the 1950’s. Tea Partyiers also seemed to have joined right wingers om lamenting the President’s foreign policy which tends to be apologetic for U. S. excesses during the Bush/Cheney years. Myself, I am happy that our president is apologizing for the many overreaches of Bush/Cheney, and is conducting a foreign policy which listens to others as well as dictates to them. It’s about damned time, as the saying goes.

One of the more influential things a president can do is to give the commencement address at one of our various institutions of higher learning. And who more capable inspiring the next generation of academics than that most unlikely victor of the 2008 elections, your president and ours, Barack Obama. However, Obama did attempt to steer today’s generation away from Apple’s iPhones, iPods, and iPads, and Microsoft’s XBoxes and Sony’s Play Stations, much to the horror of today’s technologically savy. The president admits not having the skills to properly work any of the above, this from the first President which would not allow himself to be separated from his Beloved Blackberry.

Below is Barack Obama’s commencement address to the graduating class at Hampton University. §

An Apple a Day . . .

The technology company which has made secrecy a Way of Life, formerly known as Apple computers, now simply Apple, Inc., has an entire industry of websites bringing rumors about its products to the web. And people do have lots of feelings about the company, and its partners. One of the most compelling come from would-be iPhone owners who cannot stand AT&T and hope for their carrier of choice, Verizon, making a deal with Apple.

The latest rumor spreader is gadget blog CrunchGear, one of whose writer’s, John Biggs, has written that an agency called Landor Associates “is working on an advertising campaign” for a Verizon upcoming iPhone release. According to CrunchGear Ladnor has been working on Verizon branding since 2007 and is, according to a tipster, now hard at work preparing for the iPhone HD launch. The Verizon team there is led by Brad Scott.

Is there a grain of truth in the rumor? That’s the beauty of the entire ecosystem that lives off of Apple. It really doesn’t seem to matter whether you get it right all, or even most of the time. Nobody’s keeping score. Just feed the rumor mill with regularity, preferably spreading rumors that people want to read, and some anonymous tipster will start feeding you rumors too. Or, even if they don’t, you can always say they are, and nobody’s going to call you on it.

As for the rumor of the iPhone coming to Verizon, who knows? Probably it will eventually, if and when AT&T’s exclusive contract runs out. Apple, whose dedication is to furnish as large a segment of the world’s population as possible with an iPhone, will certainly be amenable to broadening their distribution base once contractual obligations have run their course. As for CrunchGear’s prediction on the matter: “Because Landor focuses a bit more on branding – they, for example, created the dual-B logo for Blackberry – don’t expect TBWA, Apple’s current iPhone agency, to get pushed out when it comes to TV advertisements.”

”More important, however, this rumor very nearly confirms a Verizon launch of the iPhone at the end of the summer. More information as we get it.” TechCrunch §

– ☯ –

Two Eyes on the World

A boreal owl looks out from a tree hollow near Minsk, Belarus. Photo: Vasily Fedosenko-Reuters
– ☯ –

YouTube Quests Lead I-Know-Not-Where

Next up comes a story of a strange quest. Last week I came across a neat dance video featuring seven or so seven year olds. I made note of the embed data to include it on this week’s Little Eddy. But when I got around to calling it up, YouTube announced that it had gone private, and the embed data would no longer play. What was the problem? You’ve got me, it was as charming a dance video as I have seen of that age group. And I had even seen parts of it on the msnbc cable channel. But the video would no longer play for me.

As usual Google offered some other material, which I kept trying out until I ran into the video below. If you are a Conan O’Brien fan you will eat this video alive. Even if you are not Conan literate, but are merely an interested observer of the media, I think you will enjoy this video. It is sponsored by Google and YouTube, and offers the full visit by Conan to the Google campus during his exile from being funny.

To see the video in more of a relevant light I previewed it reading Lloyd Grove’s article in the Daily Beast on Saturday Night Live’s creator, Lorne Michaels. Of the O’Brien, Leno incident, Michaels’ reveals:

“The whole thing just makes me sad,” says Michaels, who was advising NBC/Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker through much of the unpleasantness. “The network was trying to make an orderly transition because of all the chaos of the Letterman-Leno thing, and they planned it five years in advance, and I don’t think Jay felt like he was ready to go. From what I gather, he got a big offer from ABC which would’ve been against Conan and Letterman. So everything made sense when the decision was made. The network did not want him coming against Conan. You know, there was no grand Machiavellian scheme. My experience with the network is that nothing is that well organized.”

He’s noncommittal about O’Brien’s decision to leave broadcast television for the cable network TBS. “I think the whole landscape will change again,” he says. “I think he’s opposite Jon Stewart, and I think that’s going to be an interesting battle to watch.”

Yet Michaels passionately defends NBC management. “Through the early days of SNL, through that last week of Conan, I can’t think of another corporate culture in which all of that could’ve happened,” he says. “I cannot imagine someone knocking the company the way Conan went after the people at NBC and everything else; I cannot imagine that at Disney. I definitely cannot imagine it at Fox. There has just been a level of creative freedom…I’ve worked there for most of my life, and things go wrong and occasionally things go right, but it has always been an incredibly, oddly tolerant culture—or else Saturday Night Live never would’ve been allowed on there.”

And here, for the amusement of brainy Google engineers, is Conan O’Brien’s side of the story:

– ☯ –

An Icon Passes

My tenure as managing editor of Sing Out! The Folksong Magazine was littered by the cover of issue after issue announcing the passing of yet another folk singer. Some of these were young, and were due to accidents or drug overdoses or an occasional suicide. Most were elderly songsters whose deaths qualified as being from natural causes. I was reminded of this while writing the introduction to my son Joel’s cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s Payday.

Unfortunately, deaths are not relegated to the folk music community. This past week saw the passing of Lena Horne, who with her beauty and her singing talent did more towards opening up the entertainment business to black people than just about anyone. I first ran into Ms Horne’s singing on the NBC program, the Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street. It was presented as a spoof of a classical music program drowning in self-seriousness. In addition to Ms. Horne, the program also introduced Dinah Shore to the world, and the music was played by the Dixieland stylings of Henry Levine and his band, and Paul Lavalle’s woodwind stylings.

Last week Lena Horne, who went on to make meaningful inroads to opening up movies to blacks, died at the age of 92, We feel the photo below captures the essence of her spirit as well as anything we’ve seen. Thank you, L. H., for passing our way and leaving us generous helpings of your talent along the way. You done good, and we will miss you.


The Incomparable Lena Horne Leaves Us

– ☯ –

Speaking of leaving, that magic time seems to have rolled around again. Time to turn in our word processor and video player, pack our digital bags and trot off into the sunset. I find it fun putting each week’s blog together, but this week’s was especially fun as I got to bring you my son Joel’s latest video. In my guitar picking days I slaved many an hour getting my fingers to run a bass pattern while improvising a treble line, and I am proud to note how conscientiously Joel has studied and disciplined himself to continue the Mississippi John Hurt tradition of guitar picking.

We post Saturday morning’s along with our breakfast, and it stays up all week so you can have continuous access to it. And simply by scrolling down you have access to the preceding four weeks posts. Plus all of our posts, since our blog’s inception, are available by date and title to the right of our blog.

We hope you can come back again next week. Meantime, hang in there, and everybody consider opening your hearts and pocketbooks and donate to our fund to furnish genuine iPhones, iPods and iPads to the children of the Gates’ and Ballmer families of Redmond, Wash. We know of not a single reason why the children from two of our nation’s wealthiest families should be deprived of knowing the feel and sound of real quality for one minute more. Bye now!

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Blog # 140: the World a Mess and a Half

– ☯ –

Nesting birds including brown pelicans inhabit Louisiana's Breton Island, which has been surrounded with protective booms in an effort to save the fragile habitat from possible approaching oil from the spill at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Carol Guzy-The Washington Post

The World Is a Mess

So What Else is New?

˜ † ˜

What an absolute mess the world is, if you look at it objectively. The first ever explosion at an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico is dumping an unbelievable amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This kind of accident, the first ever, exposed just how unprepared the oil industry really is in preparing to handle such a disaster. How could these offshore rigs not have some way to shut off the flow of oil in the case of a disaster, one can’t help but ask?

A chamber that will be used to help contain oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform is being readied at a construction site in Port Fourchon, La. Patrick Semansky-AP

The oil slick, getting larger by the minute, is slowly making its way landward. Good luck Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. And we in Texas thank the Good Lord for tides that hopefully will carry this mess to the east. §

So What Else is New II

Meantime as per usual Republicans are holding back on their support for Barack Obama’s Banking Reform Bill during the initial votes. They dare not side with Wall Street over Main Street, but they are giving a pretty good indication that they are not as yet ready to break with their God Given Right to Oppose Everything President Obama Chooses to Do.

If the Republican Party finds itself on most people’s irrelevant list, keep in mind that it will be their own fault. Without a doubt the nation’s indifference is well earned. §

So What Else is New III

53 hours and 20 minutes, now that has to be some kind of record. It was exactly 53/20 from when a street peddler in Times Square noticed smoke coming out of a parked Nissan Pathfinder, and reported it to a mounted policeman, that the perpetrator was removed from a flight out of the country and arrested.

While we’re about it, let’s give law enforcement credit for an exceptional job, exceptionally done. And speaking of drama, stopping perpetrator’s plane and requiring it to return so the FBI could remove the suspect was stretching the timing just about to the breaking point. However, you know what they say about the nick of time saving nine, or is it ninety, or nine thousand?

You would think all Americans would be impressed with the speed and efficiency of the police work required to identify, then find, and finally apprehend the guilty party.

But not our Republican friends. They are evidently unable to comment favorably on any investigation initiated under the Obama administration. And so they carp and nit-pick.

The man should have never been allowed on the airplane, never mind that the flight was stopped and the man was taken in custody.

And would somebody whose major language is English please explain to me the right wing’s hysterical opposition to reading a terrorist his Miranda rights. This comes up again every time a would-be terrorist is taken into custody, never mind that this policy originated with the Bush administration. There was no criticism of the policy when the Bushies were in charge, it was only after the Obama team continued the practice that Right Wing NutJobs have become obsessed. §

– ☯ –

Our Best Advice to Apple

Get a Life, and a Sense of Humor

˜ † ˜

This week we come up with yet another example of Apple taking itself and its products way too seriously. According to the Wall Street Journal’s technology blog, Ellen Degeneris, comedian and talk show host extraordinaire, did a parody of an iPhone commercial on her show, and the next day the poor thing felt the need to apologize for it.

The ad shows Ms. Degeneres struggling to use her phone, mistakenly going to a mapping application when she tries to text. Later, when she attempts to type on the phone’s touch screen, she remarks, “My fingers are so much thicker than I remembered.”

The spoof must have touched a sore spot with Apple; for although the iPhone is a huge hit for the company, it has faced questions about its lack of a physical keyboard, which some heavy text users seem to prefer. Ms. Degeneres said Apple thought she made the iPhone look difficult to use. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment or even confirmation that they had complained about the ad. But Ms Degeneres evidently felt the need to issue the following apology the very next day.

“I am sorry if I made it look like the iPhone is hard to use,” she said. “I love it. I love my iPad. I love my iPod .… I love IHOP. … So everybody at Apple — Steve Jobs, Mr. Macintosh — I apologize.”

You have absolutely nothing to be sorry about, Ms Degeneres. Your piece was very funny, among your best. These days Apple has a paranoid streak a mile wide and a mountain high. Pay no attention to them, one of these days they will wake up and smell the coffee, and perhaps even rejoin the human race. And a piece like yours will be instrumental in helping them get there. §

– ☯ –

Meet the World’s Most Expensive Painting

A visitor at Christie's eyes Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust." It sold for $106.5 million, a record for a work of art. Photo: Ramin Talaie/bloomberg

– ☯ –

Nashville’s High Water Mark

High Water in Nashville. Truck cabs poke out of floodwaters in Nashville, Tennessee. The water was starting to ebb Tuesday after heavy weekend rain caused the Cumberland River, which winds through Nashville, to overflow its banks, flooding part of downtown and other areas across the city. Jeff Roberson-AP

– ☯ –

Camping Didn’t Come Easy

For some strange reason, my camp memories of this week don’t particularly concern the children I worked with. Rather they consist of a few of my memories of what really turned me on in addition to the children.

As I’ve said repeatedly, my favorite part of working in a children’s camp was in the sleep-over trips away from camp. I liked the climbs, the bike trips, the canoe trips, and the freedom of camping in the outdoors, washing up our kitchen utensils, and ourselves, in a rapidly flowing streams or brooks, and on cool nights sleeping snuggled like a cocoon in a sleeping bag, under the protective cover of a tarpaulin.

Camping didn’t come naturally to me, I had to work at it. My first problem was getting to sleep at night. Back in those days I was skinny, boney, and sleeping on an unbending section of terra firma was no easy task. But then I discovered the air mattress, thereby solving my comfort problem, while at the same time helping build my lung power, as in blowing up the bag. I’ll admit that a purist would take camping as it was, rather than collect gadgets which helped make camping cool. But that was not for me, I am an unabashed collector.

For me and many other counselors a high point for each Blueberry Cove summer consisted of driving down to L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine, to check out the latest in camping gear, as well as getting a new piece of hiking footwear for the summer. L.L. Bean is a store that unconditionally backed up all of the products they sold.

As an example, for two years in a row I had bought a small alcohol stove which had proceeded to burn up on a trip. In each case L.L. Bean offered my money back or to replace the stoves, no questions asked. In each case I replaced the stove, as I found an alcohol stove excellent for heating the coffee water, etc. The quality of the merchandise sold in the store has made them into a nationally known mail order store, and their catalog is known throughout the country, if not the world.

Our particular corner of Maine, Tenants Harbor, had another particularly enjoyable experience not too far away. It was an ice cream parlor run by the Ames family. The front two rooms were parlors with tables upon which to rest your ice cream between bites.

The ice cream was made on the premises every day starting in the early morning. Several local teenage girls were hired for the summer, and under the direction of Louise Ames they milked the cows, picked the fruit and berries, mixed the ice cream, and loaded it in gallon containers in the large freezer. The same freezer also made jars of delicious clear ice, which seem to bring out the flavor of the ice cream. If you have never tasted ice cream made from freshly drawn milk, you have a real treat ahead of you, providing you can find an ice cream store which operates this way.

Ames Ice Cream was a treat for off duty counselors, and hardly a week would pass without one group or another making a visit. But we weren’t about to deprive the campers of this culinary delight, and usually at least once a summer on the return from a successful camping trip we would reward the campers by stopping by Ames Ice Cream to give them a treat.

Towards the end of my time there camp was buying enough ice cream to make a special meal’s dessert, although Ames did not have the facility in which to make ice cream for both their ice cream parlor and a relatively large facility like Blueberry Cove Camp. But for us they gave it a real try.

One of Maine’s really unique breeds were the lobstermen who spent long days taking their boats to their favorite fishing grounds and checking their traps. The lobstermen are our society's last true free wheelers, resembling not a little the cowboys of the mythical west of old. Many of the men came from many walks of life including the corporate world, but at some point each one threw off the wraps of civilization for the free wheeling life of the independent lobsterman. Their day was long, their life revolved around their boats and checking their traps, and selling their product. In case you’ve never had them Maine lobsters are crustaceans with a unique taste, and the meat is usually eaten after being dipped in pure melted butter.

An 8 year old camper named Pierra gingerly holds her lobster just before dunking it into a pot of boiling water. – photo by Ed Badeaux

The Maine lobster was really one of my favorite treats in the world of eating, and one of the more important treats for any summer’s eating experience was Lobster Feast, which camp managed to have once a summer no matter how expensive lobsters were that summer. Each camper was assigned his/her own lobster, which they could play with until the time came to dunk it into the pot of boiling water.

I don’t recall any children having a problem with dunking their lobster in boiling water. If a child was bothered it was explained that crustaceans were cold blooded and did not feel pain as did you and I. Most of the kids probably bought that line of reasoning, though the quivering of the lobster as it hit the boiling water didn’t do a thing to fortify the myth.

My favorite memories of camp other than trips, are wrapped around the all camp activities like the Lobster Feast mentioned above, and Feast Day, in which children were introduce to all kinds of exotic sea fare, like clams, mussels, periwinkles, etc. City children who would never stray far from hot dogs or spaghetti and meatballs, would get caught up in the mayhem of the moment, and try, and enjoy all kinds of dishes. Truly feast day was an ingenious idea which taught many children the delights of trying something new.

Another day for an all camp celebration was the Fourth of July. Fireworks is the traditional medium for celebrating the birthday of our country. But at Blueberry Cove we celebrated the occasion with a large bonfire. Since the bonfire was built below the tide line, the actual day of the celebration would depend on the tide.

Collecting the wood was an all morning experience. Groups were dispatched all over Hart’s Neck to gather up dead wood. This was trucked back to camp and gathered down on the beach. The bonfire itself was constructed by counselors experienced in bonfire making in the late afternoon, and it consisted of a large stack of wood eight to ten feet high.

After dinner at twilight the entire camp would assemble on the dock to watch lighting of the bonfire, which having been very cleverly built below the tide line, it meant that after the fire burned itself out, the outgoing tide would wash its remains out to sea, no human intervention necessary. Watching the flames was indeed an hypnotic experience. There is no denying the fascination that we humans of all ages have when staring into the face of a raging conflagration.

The 4th of July Bonfire

The entire Blueberry Cove Camp lines up on the dock to watch the annual BBC bonfire. – photo by Ed Badeaux

Little Eddy’s Health – Is No News Really Good?

˜ † ˜

There’s nothing new by way of information on the state of my health. However, it was interesting, when the import of the doctor’s telling me my white blood count was way over the top, it suddenly dawned on me that although I had no identifiable symptons, all of a sudden that awful chronic cough of mine could probably be explained as an ongoing sympton, not to mention those inevitable intensive naps I’m forced to take after meals.

And since those naps just seem to get longer with each passing meal and day, I guess my system is practicing for the Big One, the one after which I won’t wake up.

My immediate goal is to gauge whether this new diabetes medication, glimepiride 2 mg. will bring down my blood sugar readings, or whether Dr. Troyan will have to increase the pill’s dosage. It hasn’t really been long enough to tell me anything, but it does seem to be having some effect.

My biggest problem, whereas gylburide needed to be taken a half hour before breakfast, glimepiride needs to be taken during the meal. This requires a marked change in my habit, unfortunately, and for the second day in a row I missed not only breakfast, but lunch too, and I ended up taking the pill along with dinner.

This morning it was back to breakfast, and hopefully I will get on top of this change. For some strange reason I seem to have a devil of a time getting used to any change in my regular routine.

– ☯ –

And so yet another edition of the Little Eddy Blog burns itself out. We enjoy ferreting out news, photos, videos and whatever, a concoction which we put together during the week, and which we upload to Google on Saturday mornings right after our breakfast.

You have a long standing invitation to join us again anytime next week for yet another edition. Meantime, keep a sharp eye out for misinformation laced with possible fraud. And take Tea Party and Republican claims with the gigantic grain of salt they so well deserve. Bye bye, take care.

The Real Little Eddy §
Blog # 140:Blog # 140:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Blog #139: Some "ifs and buts"

– ☯ –

Say What?!!!

Claire McCaskill, Senator for Missouri, casts a jaundiced eye during testimony by executives for Goldman Sachs earlier this week. "You are the bookie. You are the house. You have less oversight and less regulation ... than a pit boss in Las Vegas," she said. Later, she added, "You think you're so smart. Any street gambler would never place a bet with a bookie or with the house with the record that is revealed in the documents that this committee has gathered."

Photo Melina Mara-The Washington Post

Why there’s no Flash on iPhone, iPad

It has been estimated that as much 75 % of the video available on the web uses a technology from Adobe Systems called Flash. Apple’s venerable C.E.O. Steve Jobs, has riled up much of the tech community by refusing to allow Adobe’s flash to work on iPhones and iPads. Finally, for the record he has stated his reasons for what seems on the surface like an arbitrary decision.

Reason one: Flash is proprietary, not open. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.

Second there’s the full web. Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.

Third, there’s reliability, security and performance. Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?

Fourth, there’s battery life. To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.

Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.

When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

Fifth, there’s Touch. Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers. For example, many Flash websites rely on “rollovers”, which pop up menus or other elements when the mouse arrow hovers over a specific spot. Apple’s revolutionary multi-touch interface doesn’t use a mouse, and there is no concept of a rollover. Most Flash websites will need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices. If developers need to rewrite their Flash websites, why not use modern technologies like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript?

And so the Jobs reasoning winds down. Although a lot of websites took exception to his reasons, none can truly challenge his reasons for banning Flash. If you are interested in the entirety of his points you can access his article by pointing your cursor and clicking here!

Although those with the technological expertise to question Jobs’ reasoning are few and far between, it is good that he put his thinking out in the open for all to peruse. And by stressing the issue of battery life, and the fact that software rendering which flash requires, shortens a device’s battery life by fifty percent over hardware rendering, is certainly something even non technological types should be able to understand.

However, Apple’s operations have of late more and more resembled those monstrous monopolies’ of yesteryear we knew and loved to hate, entities like Microsoft and IBM. It is no secret that today’s younger generation believes Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert more than they believe dyed-in-the-wool news organizations like those of CNN, NBC, and CBS.

It is because Stewart and Colbert will wade into areas where the big news boys fear to tread that has caught the attention of the young, and they will turn the spotlight of truth on the most sacred of industry taboos. Apple is growing “too big for its britches” as we used to say when I was a kid. And in it’s quest for secrecy and in its paranoia over real and imagined “leaks,” the mighty Apple is beginning to show many of the obnoxiousness of you know who.

The individuals who would speak to truth to Apple and Steve Jobs are few and far between. And so enter Jon Stewart shining a light on areas of tech where nary an ordinary mortal would fear to tread, all the while endeavoring to be non judgmental as he exhibits a love for Apple’s products. We now bring you Jon Stewart’s skewering of Steve Jobs and Apple, while in the end whispering could Apple send him one of those new phones with a camera in the front.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

– ☯ –

A winged politician feeds a worm to a political constituent in Chicago. David Carson-AP

Also from the Huffington Post, world renowned scientist Stephen Hawking believes extraterrestrial life almost certainly exists – and humans should be extremely cautious about interacting with it.

"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," Hawking says in a new Discovery Channel series called Stephen Hawking's Universe. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach."

He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is "a little too risky". He said: "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

Stephen W. Hawking

Although the voice narrating the Discovery Channel series is not his own computer generated voice, on one video, available here Hawking answers questions put to him in that voice. The first episode of Hawking’s new Discovery Channel series, Fear the Aliens, can be accessed here! §

A goat, distantly related to the Flying Wallendas, performs wire-walking with a monkey on its back at a zoo in Fuzhou, China. Photo Reuters

– ☯ –

I’ve got good news to report in regards to the I.R.S. request which I reported on last week, which had suggested I take the next step in the paying of my back taxes, which would begin with getting the proper 1099 forms for the year 2008.

I had the form for one of my income providers of that year, Wells Fargo Investments, but I needed forms from Social Security and The Hartford for my annuity to complete my needs. Well, as I laboriously documented in last week’s blog, I put in the calls on Tuesday, and I’m happy to report that 1099 forms from both entities arrived in Saturday’s mail.

(I guess Saturday mail deliveries will soon be a thing of the past since latest reports indicate that the Postal Service wants to do away with them.) Now all I need is for some entity to fill out the proper form and email it into the I.R.S. At least, as they say, the “Show is On the Road.” §

The Daily Beast Honors the Simpsons

Lisa Simpson Image: Fox Broadcasting Yes, the Simpsons are an astonishingly dysfunctional brood, but white sheep of the family, Lisa Simpson, has always remained a paragon of hard work and wholesome values. In the past two decades, her character has won a Genesis and Environmental Media Award for her environmentalist beliefs, including crusades against animal cruelty and support for vegetarianism. Bart and Homer may laugh at her goody-two-shoes persona, but the rest of us know she's right.

– ☯ –

The Mexican government is notably upset (as well it should be) about Arizona’s new law discriminating against undocumented Mexican workers which will allow police officers to ask for their documentation just on suspicion of their being illegal. As a result it has issued a travel notice warning Mexican citizens against travel through the U. S. state of Arizona. The law newly signed into law, for the first time will make racial profiling by police an approved, state sanctioned activity. And what in the past was usually a penalty of deportation accompanying being unmasked as an undocumented worker, under the new law suspects can be jailed for extended periods of time.

Hispanics are understandably upset over the bill, as are civil libertarians the country over, and they are suggesting such measures as putting in place a ban on travel to the state and economically boycotting it as punishment for the signing into law of the legislation. Perhaps if the state suffered economically Arizonians would think twice about enacting discriminating legislation in the future. §

– ☯ –

Arizona police wait in the weeds to challenge brown skin types with an accent, with the words, “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?!” Photo Alan Diaz-AP

– ☯ –

I.R.S. Forms Arrive

Trips to two doctors this week limited the time I had to prepare this week’s blog. One visit, to Surgical Eye Associates, who in 2002 replaced my cataract covered lenses with ones I can now see through. My eye exam went well, I had skipped last year altogether, but my readings were not that different from those of two years ago. Good news in that the old bogeyman diabetes has yet to rear it’s ugly head in my vision.

My visit with Dr. Barry Troyan, my internal medicine guy, did not turn out so well. My blood sugar readings have been high lately, which was the reason he had me come in. He wanted to give me a new prescription to lower my blood sugar readings. But more worrisome was my white blood cell count. He pointed out that it was way too high, as it had been several years ago when I was first diagnosed as having Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, a diagnosis I later found out from the V.A. oncologist was incorrect. And so I have sailed on through these years, happily writing my weekly blog, but doing little else. Now once again the threat of leukemia is rearing its white corpuscular head over my relatively peaceful horizon.

And what does the future hold for this soap opera which is my life? Who knows? In ten days I am to call back and report whether this new drug has brought down my blood sugar readings. So far it looks good, Friday’s reading of 184 dropped to 134 Saturday morning. He wants to see me in his office again in a month, at which time he will probably want to hook me up with yet another oncologist. At which time here we go again. But you know, it’s not so bad knowing that little bug that’s liable to do you in. It would be nice to be supplied with a script, perhaps with a time line. But since that’s not likely to happen, I get to savor the mystery. Perhaps our last mystery I’ll get to savor. §

A pack of riders manages to pass through a field without pushing up daisies during the first stage of the Tour de Romandie cycling race near Porrentruy, Switzerland. Photo Denis Balibouse-Reuters
– ☯ –

And so once again we’ve managed to fritter away another edition of the weakly Little Eddy Blog. Sorry we didn't get any camp memories in this week, the week’s doctor visits meant there was less time for preparation, which meant we added more photographs to fill the space. But we'll be back into camp next week for sure.

We do this little thing every week, writing, collecting photos, videos, etc., and we’ll be back at it next week providing our computer starts up, and our white corpuscles don’t start acting up. We hope you’ll find your way back just in case we stumble across something worth reading about or seeing. Meantime, bye now, don’t take any wooden tea party-ers. Tin ones would probably be alright, just no wooden ones.

The Real Little Eddy §