Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blog # 147: Wrapping Gov. Palin in Oil

BP, A Mountain of Incompetence

The most troubling aspect of BP’s gigantic and ongoing oiling of the Gulf of Mexico, is the extent that incompetence guided BP’s actions. The list of BP’s citations in it’s refinery incidents is far greater than any other oil refinery company. Below we quote from a report a Washington based watchdog group, Center for Public Integrity, entitled, "Renegade Refiner: OSHA Says BP Has Systemic Safety Problem."

BP received a total of 862 citations between June 2007 and February 2010 for alleged violations at its refineries in Texas City and Toledo, Ohio. Of those, 760 were classified as "egregious willful" and 69 were classified as "willful." Thirty of the BP citations were deemed "serious" and three were unclassified.

Virtually all of the citations were for alleged violations of OSHA's process safety management standard, a sweeping rule governing everything from storage of flammable liquids to emergency shutdown systems. BP accounted for 829 of the 851 willful violations among all refiners cited by OSHA during the period analyzed by the Center.

What’s with this industry favoring system which allows oil and coal mining companies to contest regulatory fines in court, and then if they lose pay the fines rather than correct the conditions which brought on the fines? To any sensible observer such a system bolsters the power of the industry at the expense of the safety of its workers, and in the case of BP’s latest faux pas, the health of the entire Gulf of Mexico.

The occasional mine explosion testifies as to the ongoing danger of this policy, which in the case of BP, has its safety record coming under intense scrutiny ever since the blowout and resulting explosion at its Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig which led to the deaths of 11 workers, injuries to others, and the still uncontrolled spewing of tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico every minute of every day and night with no end in sight.

Any person looking beyond the surface could not help but ask the inevitable question: how could an oil company with such a contemptuous attitude toward the safety of its employees ever be allowed to drill a well 500 miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico?

What kind of regulations control this industry, and what records do the regulators look in the approval process to allow an oil company to drill in the Gulf of Mexico? BP’s well ingrained penchant for cutting corners on safety procedures was well known. Why this did not raise flags in the approval process is unimaginable? And when the Obama administration takes the scientifically logical step of putting a moratorium on new deepwater wells being drilled until a study has been made for why BP’s well malfunctioned, a federal judge whose stock portfolio is filled with energy stocks, arbitrarily brings and end to the moratorium.

Poor nation. How can we possibly have success in solving our many basic problems when Republican appointed judges, and Republican legislators are working full time against doing what is necessary to solve these basic problems? We certainly identify with President Obama’s problems, and wish him the very best of luck, for the country’s and your’s and our sake, in solving them.

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Preparing for Dressing Down

Gen. Stanley McChrystal arrives at the White House to meet with President Obama. Obama removed McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and replaced him with Gen. David H. Petraeus, saying he was acting to maintain cohesion in the war effort and civilian control over the military after McChrystal and his top aides disparaged administration officials. Photo: Nicholas Kamm-AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday, 12:00 CDT. The fate of General McChrystal was still unknown officially at 10:41, although the fact that the President had met with Gen. McChrystal for only 30 minutes, and the General subsequently left before the Situation Room meeting on the Afghanistan war was pretty telling. The President is expected to make an announcement some time during the noon hour about his decision in the McChrystal case.

Of course, it does not help that the war in Afghanistan is going poorly. However, in military tradition an officer surviving such a high level criticism of his civilian superiors is unprecedented. And so any outcome other than relieving the good General of his position as leader of American forces in Afghanistan would be pretty much out of the question.

Meantime the Rolling Stone article which has brought on this firestorm is a really compelling read. It paints an indelible portrait of the General, not all of which is negative, but there is certainly enough negativity in it, and particularly among McChristal’s advisors, with which to get him in what George H.W. 41 might have described as “deep doo doo.” The article, which can be read in its entirety, may be found here!

Andrea Mitchell ended up hitting the jackpot, on this entire McChristal, Petraeus take over. Killing time with her were Hardball’s Chris Matthews as well as former Congressman and Defense Department head under Clinton, William Cohen. Plus White House correspondents Chuck Todd and Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski.

The big question of the hour was whether General McChristal would survive the Rolling Stone article. Of course, the fact that Gen. McChristal had a 30 minute meeting with the President, after which he left before the strategy meeting on Afghanistan was to be held was a pretty good indication that the good General was undoubtedly dead meat.

By 12:08 CDT Chuck Todd had confirmed the General’s firing, and within minutes Miklaszewski announced that General David Petraeus was to be his replacement. All of those lined up to fill the time did well with interesting speculations and observations.

It was 12:42 before President Obama opened the door to the Oval Office and stepped up to the microphone surrounded by Vice President Biden, General Petraeus, Defense Department head Robert M. Gates, and Joint Chief of Staff Head Admiral Mike Mullen, all privy to the Situation Room meeting on Afghanistan.

Obama minced no words. He said that McChristal’s words as reported in the Rolling Stone article had created a situation that was untenable, pitting military leadership against its civilian counterpart. Announcing that General Petraeus had agreed to take over the leadership from General McChristal seemed to win approval from experts of every stripe, from Senators McCain and Leiberman to the experts that Ms. Mitchell had lined up to help her fill the delay before the President finally made his announcement.

Obama’s remarks were short and to the point, and most of the assembled pundits agreed he had handled a terrible situation in the best possible way. McChristal’s resignation read as follows: “This morning the President accepted my resignation as Commander of U.S. and NATO Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. I strongly support the President’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. It was out of respect for this commitment –– and a desire to see the mission succeed –– that I tendered my resignation. It has been my privilege and honor to lead our nation’s finest.

The anchor who followed Mitchell’s hour was interviewing NBC’s correspondent in Afghanistan, who announced that he had talked by phone with Michael Hastings. Hastings was the Rolling Stone writer who had written the article which had brought down the General. Asking him why he had written the article Hastings told him that his motive had been to shine the spotlight on the war in Afghanistan. Asked if he felt any sympathy for General McChristal, he said the General was old enough to know what he was saying, and Hastings further noted that in his opinion his article had been largely successful, truly turning the nation’s attention back onto the war in Afghanistan. You sure got that right, buster!

Unfortunately, candidate Barack Obama who ran against both of George W.’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is nowhere to be found these days. He is winding down Iraq, as promised, but as the Russian communists found out the hard way, Afghanistan is a situation that is simply not winnable. It’s too bad we didn’t use this bump in the road to question why the hell we are there? and when in hell we’re planning to get out?

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The Tennis Match Which Wouldn’t End

American Tennis Player John Isner celebrates winning what turned out to be the longest match in tennis history, lasting in excess of 11 hours, and stretching over three days. Pool photo by Suzanne Plunkett

’Tis the first week of Wimbledon. Tennis freaks will already be aware of this. The rest of you probably won’t give much of a damn. At my age I don’t do sports, never have except a tall hill or small mountain now and again.

But in my more sedentary age I have become quite addicted to watching sports on television. My favorite, of course, is NBA basketball. NBA basketball represents in my mind the ultimate in a team sport relying primarily on skill rather than brute force. But in spite of its being played in air conditioned gymnasiums professional basketball is notably dead in the torrid months of summer.

June, however, does bring us Wimbledon tennis, which I find interesting to watch as a background. And once in awhile I might stop long enough to follow a particular match if it indeed proves compelling.

Why tennis you might well ask? Well, it’s one of the few sports which pits one individual against another. Boxing does that too, of course, except that boxing is much too savage for an empathic milquetoast like me. I can feel the pain. Of course, doubles and mixed doubles feature multiple players battling it out, but singles is the combat I prefer to watch, matching individual against individual. And depending on their respective skills perhaps offering a memorable battle as well..

I don’t really follow the sport these days, so as a rule I have no idea who’s playing. I do know who Roger Federer is, of course, and so was surprised to read how in his opening match which because he is the reigning champion was held on centre court, he lost the first two sets and won the third by a hair, before returning to his old self and putting his opponent away in the final two sets.

However, it turned out that the most interesting match was the one between American John Isner and Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut. It was a first round match that went more than 11 hours stretched out over three days. Isner finally won the contest 70-68. The fifth set alone went over 8 hours. Isner finished with a total of 112 aces and Muhat 103. Sadly Mr. Isner lost his 2nd round match, scheduled hours after his marathon finally ended. But not before he and Mssr Mahut carved themselves quite a unique place in the lore of tennis history.

America’s Williams Sisters Take to the Court

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American sisters Venus (left) and Serena Williams play their first-round Wimbledon doubles match against American Julie Ditty and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic. The Williams sisters won the match, by the way. Photo: Hamish Blair-Getty Images

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What to Do When the Floods Come

While our transportation stalls out in high water, in more primitive lands natives ride animals which don’t stall out in high water.

A man rides his ox along a flooded street in China's Jiangxi province. Photo: Aly Song-Reuters

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The World’s Other Sport of the Moment

Argentina's coach Diego Maradona watches the Group B first round 2010 World Cup football (soccer) match against Greece in Polokwane, South Africa. Argentina defeated Greece 2-0. Photo: Daniel Garcia-AFP/Getty Images

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In Your Face(book)

Columbia Pictures has just released its very first trailer for its upcoming film The Social Network. Based in part on the book The Accidental Billionaire, it chronicles the formative days of Facebook, from its founding in Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room, through its early rise to success. The film is written by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin, and is directed by David Fincher. The trailer has the intriguing tag line, “You don’t get to 500,000 friends without making a few enemies.” More information may be found here!

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And that was a sliver of the week that was. Like last week, this was another bad health week, one which limited our time and resources in our blog preparation. However, time marches on, and hopefully with each passing day we move closer to finding out what the hell is really wrong with us, with our upcoming bone marrow experience #3 scheduled for July 2nd at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Because the most effective drug to treat chronic myeloid leukemia (afterwards to be referred to as cml) is Gleevec, and it’s monthly dose runs $3,000, my sons have reunited me with the Veteran’s Administration as well as my regular health care provider, Texas HealthSpring, which does not list Gleevec among the drugs which it covers. The VA doesn’t list Gleevec by name either, but Joel assures me that it is listed by its generic name.

Anyway, we will take what comes and see what we will see. And if you return to anytime after next Saturday morning you will be treated to a brand new edition of our blog. We’re sorry we haven’t been more entertaining recently, but it’s hard to be entertaining when you are feeling lousy. Let’s everybody wish me luck after July 2nd, and hope one way or another I can get something to put this white corpuscle mutiny into its proper place, which is in remission. Meantime, have a good week, and remember not to give a Republican or Tea Party-er the time of day. They are just liable to strip your watch right off of your arm. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Blog # 146: Have a Blog Lite

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Hearing from the Top of the Line?

ExxonMobil Chairman and chief executive Rex Tillerson, left, Chevron Chairman and chief executive John Watson, ConocoPhillips Chairman and chief executive James Mulva, Shell Oil President Marvin Odum and BP America President and Chairman Lamar McKay testify on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, during a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Larry Downing-Reuters

Rep. Joe Burton Apologizes to CEO of BP for President Obama “shaking down” oil giant for a $20 billion “slush” fund to compensate victims of the Gulf Oil spill.

Joe Barton Spills the Beans!

It’s not very often that a professional politician will come right out and say what he feels deep down inside. On Thursday our own Texas good old country boy, Republican Representative Joe Barton, did just that. Peeling back layers usually well hidden from the voters, he put up the true face of the GOP as he apologized to the CEO of BP for President Obama’s “reckless shakedown” of BP of it’s 20 billion dollar escrow fund to pay victims of BP’s oil disaster. Since we have started this blog we have been trying our best to show the voters of this country the difference between Democrats and Republicans. Well, good old Joe just did our work for us, and far better than we ever could have.

"I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself," Barton explained, "but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown."

Tightening the noose, Barton went on: "I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words — amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize."

Well, we too think it’s a damn shame that Rep. Barton has to live in a country so despicable, that it would expect a business which causes an extreme amount of damage to have to be responsible and pay for the damage it has caused. Obviously Barton identifies with the oil company, and not the people of the Gulf States that BP savaged. Would he be more comfortable living in BP’s home country, providing they would let him in?

And you better believe that Republicans were running like hell from Barton’s apology. And before the day was over even Barton himself was half-heartedly taking back his morning statement, but his original apology to BP still stands tall, and it sure as hell casts the spotlight of truth on what Republicans really, in their hearts, stand for. Look no further. The Good Ole’ Boy with the Big Mouth from Texas Spoke the Truth! What more is there to say?

As we prepare to upload our blog to Google we might note that according to the Associated Press Rep. Barton seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Telephone calls to his office weren’t being answered, and no further peep has been heard out of him. In Houston Chronicle letters one supported him, while four other decried his tirade, though they were grateful for the true face his outburst put on the Republican Party. We agree, it was a one of a kind happening.

Another Face of Republican Righteousness

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer – Would you buy a used State from this woman?

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Fans celebrate after Brazil scored its first goal against North Korea during a World Cup soccer match, while watching the game on a giant screen at Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Silvia Izquierdo-AP

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Pardon Our Blog Lite

We apologize for posting mostly a group of photographs for this week’s blog. By the way, the photographs, and even the captions, are from the Washington Post’s collection as published Thursday, June 17. The Washington Post publishes an excellent collection of newsworthy photos daily, a collection not to be missed by anyone appreciating fine news photography. It is our pleasure to be able to call them to your attention.

Healthwise . . . (What kind of word it healthwise, anyway?) On the frontier of my health it was not a good week. The naps which follow each of my three meals are no longer optional, they are mandatory with a capital M! And they last at least an hour, sometimes much longer. I cannot even stay awake for the NBA championship games, and anyone who knows me knows how serious a malady that is.

Even though I plan to continue posting this blog until health does me in, on some weeks, like this one, the writing is likely to be lite. It is July 2nd, or sometime thereafter, that once again I get to find out whether or not I truly have chronic myeloid leukemia, hereafter to be known as cml. For at 3:00 pm on that day I am scheduled to have yet another bone marrow, whatever. Of course, I had this before. The first round found I had cml, the second, conducted by the VA, found I did not have cml. All had been going well since that VA finding that I was free of cml until a recent blood test indicated a untoward number of white corpuscles. Here we go again.

But I’ll tell you the truth, after spending much of this week following the BP hearings on msnbc, I am appalled at the level of incompetence exhibited by the distinguished gentlemen pictured at the hearing above. The level of recklessness and incompetence in the oil industry is unbelievable, and most of this incompetence seems to be centered right here in Houston.

May we dare to hope that Houston’s healthcare community is of a slightly higher quality than its oil industry. I mean, it is enough to make one ashamed to be from Houston, to think of these oil types running amuck all through River Oaks and Memorial.

But our favorite oil polluter, Exxon-Mobile, is no longer the world’s biggest polluter, thank you very much. British Petroleum has taken over that honor, you’re very welcome, and it seems to be laying to waste the entire Gulf of Mexico to prove its ascendancy. And BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, seems to have broken the record for the CEO who knew the least and said even less.

You know, it’s a drag being in ill health, and if I ever have an audience with our Creator, be assured I’ll issue a complaint as to the way we are sometimes forced to leave this life. But, just getting up every day, and reading what goes on for news these days, this matter of death is beginning to seem less of a problem and more of an ultimate solution, the final turning of the page so to speak.

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A secretary bird acts up in his enclosure at the Tierpark Friedrichsfelde zoo in Berlin. The raptor birds are native to the open landscapes of Africa. Photo: Barbara Sax-AFP/Getty Images

Lakers Finally Triumph Over Celtics

In one of the most evenly balanced NBA finals since I have been watching professional basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers won their 16th NBA championship, their second in a row, defeating their arch enemies, the Boston Celtics, 83 to 79. Although the Celtics led the final game during much of it, their legs finally gave out and their age showed. And in the final minutes the Lakers had their way with the game. And so ends another year of professional basketball. Talk about a long, hot summer. We’ll miss you, guys.

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Kaylea Neal fires a fistful of mud at her friend Heather Lueck at Gehrmann Park in Springfield, Ill. The girls began playing in a puddle, progressed to a mud fight and ended back in the water to clean up. Photo: Ted Schurter-AP

Mud it taking it to a high level. More common is the water the child in the next picture is playing in. As we experience an almost heat wave here in Houston which is taxing our air conditioning unit, looking at the photograph below can almost be cooling.

Three-year-old Felicity Cornwell of Paducah, Ky., plays at a spray park in Paducah. Photo: Stephen Lance Dennee-AP

And finally how about a photograph extolling the virtues of parenthood? Not of the human variety, but in the world of birds.

A stork leaves the nest to find food for its young in Jablonne v Podjestedi, Czech Republic. According to city records, the nest dates from 1864 and is likely to be the oldest in the country. Photo: Petr Josek-Reuters

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And so mercifully this week’s Blog Lite comes to an end. Hoping to feel better and be more productive in the coming week, we will immediately post, and then turn our attention towards assembling next week’s blog. However, next Friday I have another trip to the VA hospital, which shatters time like no other invention known to man.

Why submit myself to the VA experience, you might ask? Well, my son the doctor, Joel, assures me that the VA dispenses Gleevec, one of three drugs which is known to tame cml, although the VA lists the drug under its generic name. Gleevec under its name costs $3000 a month, which certainly puts it out of reach for most of us. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is taking the drug it was announced recently, but he is acting as a spokesman for the drug company, which is undoubtedly how he is affording it. We’ll see what we’ll see.

Each week we try to be creative, if not witty, in our closing comments, but this being the week that was, this week we are making an exception. We invite you back anytime next week if you so desire, and will try a little harder to make up for this week. Meantime, bye now. Sleep well, and dream nice thoughts.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Blog # 145: Our House Hacked

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Gregory da Silva, who calls himself the Eggman, smiles during a fans' party in Cape Town, one day prior to the start of the 2010 World Cup. Photo: Paul Hanna-Reuters

The Hi-Jacking of my Gmail Account

Monday, June 7. Guess what? I was eating breakfast this morning when my phone rang. It was my son Joel, who had just gotten an email from me saying that I was traveling in the UK and had my wallet stolen, and I would hate to inconvenience him, but could he please send me, three thousand dollars.

Welcome to the world of cyberscum. I immediately tried to access my gmail account, but no luck. Somebody has hijacked it, changed the password, and is busy sending out fake requests for money in my name. I can no longer get access to my own email account. And since it is also Google, I won’t be able to access my Little Eddy blog either. What to do? I filled out a Google page to reclaim your gmail account several times, but it rejected my complaint, particularly the URL for my blog, which happens to be: It turned out that what the page rejected was the www, when I took it out the complaint was gone. However, for the record your favorite browser will access my page with or without the www.

Tuesday, June 8. Still locked out from my gmail account, and since all Google accounts are related, I’ll have to clear this up before Saturday, otherwise I won’t be able to update my blog. More frustration. I filled out Google’s form for resetting my password three or four more times, but the guy must have changed my question, for the way I entered it, it asked for the name of my elementary school. My elementary school had been Woodrow Wilson, but that answer came up wrong, time and time again.

However the page did ask me for an alternate email address where Google could contact me. I went back to Excite, which I had really not used since I first began using gmail in January 2007, but rather than reactivate my original, I opened a brand new account there, combining my age with my original screen name edbad:

Then came lots more filling out the Google page with lots of frustration and no discernible progress. I finally gave up for the day, turning my attention to game 3 of the NBA finals between the Lakers and the Celtics, scheduled for Tuesday night at 8 on ABC. Boston put up a good fight, and got within 3 near the end, but the Lakers were too much for them that night, overpowering them down the stretch.

At any rate, have no fear. Google’s here. Google’s instruction are to leave your gmail account inactive for 24 hours, then follow the instructions to reset your password. However, this scammer has been busy alerting my entire email list that I (He) needs $3,000. Hopefully no one who knows me will fall for that line. No one I know has $3,000 to lend me, and if they did I seriously doubt that they would.

However, what to do if that doesn’t work? I decided that I will just keep googling that someone has stolen my account until I get someone’s attention. Will it work? Who knows? Just for the record I googled: “someone hijacked my gmail account,” and a page came up claiming 65,500 results, and the page listed the first ten stories, all similar to my own.

In one of the stories that I Googled the author told how he joined twitter and announced his problem, and someone from Google read of his plight and came to his aid. And so I attempted to join twitter. Everything worked out fine except my temporary email address, was rejected because it was being used already. 84 refers to my age, and edbad was my original screen name before one of the entities I belonged to had me change it to eddybad. How could edbad84 be taken up by anybody else is beyond me, but twitter insisted that it was. Just about then the twitter servers conked out, and my twitter membership went up in electronic dust.

It is Wednesday, and I’m still locked out of my gmail account. However, perusing my brand new excite account I discover a couple of communications from Google. One of them takes me to a page where I could reset my password without having to answer that question that kept telling me I was wrong. I followed Google’s instruction, clicked on a link, and found myself at a page which would allow me to create an entirely new password. I did that, making up an entirely new password four or five characters longer than my original, and Viola! Damned if my gmail page didn’t open. For the first time since Sunday I was able to check into my gmail account with it. Gmail, oh gmail, how I had missed thee, let me count the ways.

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A villager looks over his fields while plowing for rice planting in Kob Srov, Cambodia. Photo: Heng Sinith-AP

Few Readers Means No Flack

White House correspondent icon Helen Thomas, dean of the White House correspondents, had to resign her position after saying on YouTube that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine.” Generally speaking, if you know what’s good for you you will make no comments the least bit critical of “It can do no wrong” Israel.

Last week our lead article decried Israel’s attack on the flotilla carrying aid to the Gaza Palestinians that Israel is attempting to starve as punishment for electing Israel hating Hamas. We called the murder of eight Turks and one Turkish-American piracy on the high seas. No backlash whipped around us, as we have too few readers, and evidently the ones we do have don’t buy the Israel line.

Chris Matthews take note, it’s the Israeli mafia who really plays hardball. No criticism of Israel, no matter how arbitrary it’s actions, is allowed in the public media. Anything even hinting that the right wing Likud government is being somehow unreasonable is met by unending public ridicule.

However, there are two or more sides to every issue facing mankind. And so there is another side to the flotilla story. A side that was lucidly told by the Swedish best selling author, Henning Mankell, in his Diary of Being Aboard the Flotilla, as translated to English and published by TheDailyBeast. Henning begins by giving the reasons for his participation:

Our destination can be read in its point of departure, I think as I wait for the taxi. As instructed, I’ve limited my luggage to a rucksack weighing no more than 10 kilos. “Ship to Gaza” has a clear, and clearly defined, goal: to break the illegal blockade that Israel is imposing on the Gaza region. After the war a year ago, life has become more and more unbearable for the Palestinians who live there. There is a huge shortage of the bare necessities for living any sort of decent life.

But the aim of the voyage is of course more explicit than that. Deeds, not words, I think. It’s easy to say you support or defend or oppose this, that, and the other. But only action can provide proof of your words. The Palestinians who have been forced by the Israelis to live in this misery need to know that they are not alone, not forgotten. The surrounding world has got to be reminded of their existence. And we can do that by loading some ships with what they need most of all: medicines, desalination plants for drinking water, cement.

Henning goes on to tell his story in a straightforward manner, including telling after their captivity by the Iraelies how a man who preceded him in a line allowed himself to be photographed, but claiming he had done nothing wrong refused to allow fingerprints to be taken. According to Henning’s diary he was beaten to the ground by his Israeli captors and carried off.

When Henning was discovered to be a best selling author a man familiar with his writings was assigned to him to make sure he was not mistreated. However, he said his disgust at the treatment of the Flotilla people at the hands of the Israel is causing him to rethink having his books translated into Hebrew.

For Henning’s complete diary, which was translated into English and published in it entirety by TheDailyBeast, go here! •

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For me TheDailyBeast continues to be an online treasure. Another gem in the current edition is an interview with former Apple CEO John Scully, on why he fired Steve Jobs. Of course, Scully blamed the firing on the Apple board of directors, and with many years to think back on it, and watching Apple’s meteoric rise under Jobs stewardship since his return, Scully expressed a wish that at the time of his firing he could have talked Jobs into returning.

John Scully – Fired Steve Jobs

But this expressed wish comes well after the fact, there was no action taken by Scully at that time, and Apple continued to flounder first under Scully, then under Michael Spindler and finally under Gil Amelio. Apple turned itself around only after it’s board bought Jobs’ NeXT to form the basis for a re-worked Mac OS, and then made Jobs interim CEO at a salary of a dollar a year. Jobs has since had the i removed from his title of CEO although he still earns a dollar a year (although he seems to be putting small i’s in front of most all of its current product line.) For the full story go here! For another view of the Apple story you can check out Wikipedia’s version of the Apple saga here! •

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Frustrated with your browser?

Destroy the Web

Well, here’s what you impatient frustrated web hounds have been waiting for. Destroy the Web is a game add-on for Firefox, built specifically to take advantage of the new features introduced in Firefox 3.5. A first of its kind, the goal in the game is to destroy each and every Web page, competing for the high score against players around the world! For a list of scores around the league go here! For an example of how the game works, click the arrow below.

A Portrait in Oil

A dead crab sits in oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill on a beach in Grand Terre Island, La. Photo: Lee Celano-Reuters

Good News for Frustrated Composers

Are you a frustrated music composer? Do you have melodies running through your head, which eventually spin away into nothingness? Well, if you have a Mac there’s (to quote the iPhone) “an app for that.” The Mac application for burgeoning musicians is called Garage Band, and it allows you to make loops of drum rhythms, piano lines, etc. and have them play as a whole. Garage Band comes as a free app with all new Macs, and you can even create podcasts with the program using digital music from your record collection.

However, a new website gives pc owners the ability to make your own music. It is called Aviary, and it can be accessed here! Good luck, and have fun with it.

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And so we come to the end of Blog # 145. This was the week that was, as we lost access to our gmail account and blog for three days, while some merry hacker pretending to be me sent out messages asking for money to my entire email list. What a crock? He had me traveling in England, whereas I’m scheduled for another bone marrow scan to determine if I have chronic myeloid leukemia on July 2nd. I truly hope no one fell for that line and sent him one red cent, much less the $3,000 he was asking for. Imagine, me needing $3,000 if my wallet got stolen? Imagine anybody on my email list sucker enough to send that hacker one copper penny?

Well, as we said that was the week that was. And is no more. We are back united with our Google account once again, which you can see when Blog # 145 gets uploaded in a few minutes. Meantime, we hope you’ll come back any time after next Saturday to see what we’ve come up with by then. Meantime, bye bye, and don’t let any wooden hackers take over your password and lock you out of your email account.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blog # 144: A State of Pirates?

Palestinians on boats protest at the Gaza Seaport against Israel's interception of of Gaza-bound ships. Israel, deflecting a U.N. demand for an international investigation, proposed an Israeli inquiry with the participation of outside observers. For our reaction see . . . Piracy is Piracy . . . below. Photo: Mohammed Salem-Reuters

Piracy is Piracy . . .

. . . is Piracy . . . is Piracy . . . is

Congratulation Bibi. You have managed to turn the world’s view of an Israeli citizen into that of a hard headed monster, rather than a bright creative mind seeking peace. You have managed to prove yet again, that when a tactic (the use of force) doesn’t work, rather than seek out a new tactic your simple mind simply increases the degree of force the next time around.

Your election after Rabin’s unfortunate assassination told the world that peace in the Middle East was entombed alongside of Rabin. As you have said quietly time and time again, peace with the Palestinians will come over your, and each of your fellow Likud members’, dead bodies.

What a sorry situation, attacking the Free Gaza flotilla, an unarmed flotilla in international waters that was trying to bring food, medicines, and construction materials to Gaza. Aren’t you proud of yourselves, Israel, dropping your paratroopers from helicopters to prevent food, medicines, and building materials from reaching the people of Gaza which you are in the process of starving to punish them for electing Hamas?

That Israeli nonsense may get you by with your US Aye Sayers, but it’s not going to fly in the rest of the world. The flotilla passengers may have attacked your invaders from the sky with what they had handy, chairs, clubs, as any people would after being attacked by paratroopers lowered from helicopters, and your troops answered them with bullets.

And as happened so many times in the past, one or two Israeli injured are avenged by killing Palestinians, or in this case Turks, by the dozens. Not that there were any real victims on the Israeli side. As usual the casualties were all on the other side. Still Israel, in its unholy self-righteousness, releases a video purporting to show poor Israeli paratroopers being attacked with metal chairs, clubs, and the like. Let us all shed a tear for the poor, abused, and horribly misused invading Israeli paratroopers.

Always keep in mind that it was Israel which invaded the flotilla, and in international waters to boot. Armed paratroopers dropped from helicopters onto the flotilla deck. That is piracy on the high seas, state sponsored piracy is no less piracy than the free-wheeling kind. Israeli apologists are going to find this one a tough swallow.

When I was young Israel was a bright spot in the world. With Pete Seeger singing Hava Nagila, and his audience wildly dancing to the words and music, we felt that Israel was a beacon light of goodness and rationality in a clouded and threatening Middle East.

But no longer. First with the assassination of Yitzak Rabin, the slain Israeli general and prime minister who had signed the Oslo peace accords and who had been the leader most likely on course to solve the Palestinian problem and lead the region into peace. And this was followed by the election of Benyamin Netanyahu, the man least likely to broker accord with their Palestinian neighbors and bring true peace to the region. It would be difficult to find an Israeli leader in deeper opposition to anything which might further the peace process, than the man the people of the so-called democracy of Israel elected to succeed the slain Rabin.

I say so-called, for make no mistake, Israel is no democracy. It is a religious state, a state for Jews, Palestinians need not apply. Yet Palestinians have lived on this land for an eternity, until in the wake of World War II, the British government rather arbitrarily and with Jewish terrorism assisting it, decided to take Palestine from the Palestinians and turn it over to Israel, forcing Palestinians into refugee camps throughout the region. To be perfectly fair, our president Harry Truman enthusiastically backed the British in this. This relieved us from the guilt we all had felt at the fate of Jews under Hitler.

To race from the historical to the present, the blockade of Gaza was and is purely a political act, enacted solely to punish the Palestinians in the Gaza for electing Hamas, and is legal only in the eyes of the most dedicated, right wing, “we can do no wrong!”, Israeli zealot.

Attacking a peaceful flotilla in international waters with armed para-troopers dropped from helicopters will fly in no court aside from a blindly Pro Israeli one. Even large segments of the Israeli population are angry at the botched raid, and many probably hope that the incident will bring down the Netanyahu government once and for all, replacing it with one more attuned to seeking peace in the area.

Little Eddy does not bring any expertise to the conflict, other than his opinion as a human being. But how ironic it is that a people who suffered as the Jews suffered under Nazi Germany in World War II, would in turn use the mind set of the Nazis in their own political maneuvering against the Palestinians, a people they uprooted with the establishment of the Jewish State.

For the Israeli people we would wish that they would change their “we can do no wrong” mindset to one of “do unto Palestinians as we would wish them to do unto us.” It is long past time that Israel abandoned it’s opposition to Hamas and wake up to the reality that it, and it alone, is responsible for first putting Hamas in power, and their mindless, arbitrary power will be keeping them in power, with the only real solution is for an 180° change of direction with Israel once again returning to the negotiating table.

We hope President Obama has the courage and temerity to steer clear of continuing blind US support for the concept that Israel can do no wrong. Israel has long since proved that it can do as much wrong as it damn pleases, and considers it has the power to do anything it pleases, no matter how arbitrary, all the while invoking it’s security as its cover. It is a big world out there. Even Israel’s staunchest European supporters have found this one hard to swallow. Piracy on the High Seas, whether practiced by bandits off the coast of Somalia or in international waters by the Israeli regime, is unlawful and in a just world it will be deemed so and duly condemned and prosecuted.

If the roles had been reversed and it had been unarmed peace loving Israelis lining the deck of that ship, and armed Turkish paratroopers had rained down from the skies, don’t you think those Israelis would have grabbed chairs and clubs and anything else they could find to defend themselves with? But Netanyahu is empathy deprived, empathetically brain dead, you might say. And he only sees in colors of black and white, no shades of gray. Anything Israeli is white, all else is black.

What had begun the decimation of the Soviet Union was it’s arbitrary shooting down of an American airliner which had happened to stray into its air space, a flight which was cryptically labeled 101. Other things happened that helped bring down the behemoth, but that act of arrogance certainly began the process. If our civilization is to succeed we must all live together as nations of laws. The Soviet Union cannot start shooting down commercial airliners because they happen to wander into its air space.

And by the same token Israel has no right to violate the human rights of the Palestinians. And yet under the mantle of Israeli Security it has done this since its inception. and it has been particularly rampant under the various Likud regimes. It is about damn time that Israelis invite themselves back into the human community.

The law is the law, and Piracy on the High Seas is still a violation of international law, and as our dear friend Walter used to say, “and that is the way it is.” Period. Case closed.

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Exciting Playground for AppleNuts

Have a computer? Want an afternoon of fun and knowledge? Open your favorite browser and go here!

What this URL brings you is a page devoted to the primary speaker at Tuesday’s All Things Digital 8 conference, sponsored by the Wall St. Journal and chaired by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. And there for your perusal, are the words of Apple’s C.E.O., Steve Jobs. His questions and answers are broken up into many parts; his thoughts on ATT, on television, on Gizmodo, on iAds, on Apple’s relation with Google, on Foxcom’s string of suicides, on the iPhone’s origins, and Jobs’ reasons for writing his famous essay on Flash, among others.

Apple C.E.O. Steve Jobs

Kara Swisher even came up in an interview with Steve Case, former CEO of A.O.L. who was instrumental in arranging its ill-fated merger with Time Warner. Case recalled that in 2002 he had made a suggestion at a Time Warner board meeting for AOL-TimeWarner to buy Apple Computer and put Steve Jobs in charge of the entire TimeWarner operation. Nothing came of it, of course, but it was an interesting idea.

In addition to the complete videos from Jobs’ appearance at the D-8 convention, his complete appearances at D1, D2, D3, D4 and his complete joint appearance with Bill Gates at D5 are also available with simply a click. We can almost guarantee that no matter how deep your interest in All Things Apple, your interests will be likely be fully saturated after sampling this collection. We have gone through Jobs’ D8 appearance several times, and even got through his D1, D2, and part of his D3 appearances before running out of time and patience.

Below we bring you one video from D-8 which may or may not play. It is Mr. Jobs explaining the iPhone prototype left in a bar, and eventually bought by the blogger Gizmodo for $5,000. Gizmodo’s head honcho Nick Benton’s comment after seeing the interview was that it was good to see Mr. Jobs so animated.

When Mossberg tried to get Jobs to express a tiny bit of guilt at depriving iPad users from seeing Flash videos, Jobs went into an animated lecture about how Apple had been the first technology company to switch from 5” floppies to 3.5” discs, and then with the emergence of its all in one iMac computer it discontinued the use of floppies altogether. He spoke of using technologies in the “spring” of their lifespan, not the fall or winter. Jobs wound up his argument saying, “if our customers feel deprived they will stop buying our products.” Then he went on to suggest that “customers don’t seem to be expressing much frustration as they have been buying iPads at a rate of 1 every 3 tenths of a second since they went on sale, over a month ago.” Case closed.

An ironic footnote of note: All of the video are Flash powered, and all have many stops, where the video needs to buffer before it continues. All would seem to prove Steve Jobs’ point when it comes to the inferiority of Adobe’s Flash.

Other interesting speakers at D8 included included Steve Ballmer and Ray Ozzie, of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook defining Facebooks’ evolving ideas on privacy, and film director James Cameron, who tells about how he assembled underwater cameras to film the Gulf spill, and who told Kara Swisher that he is re-releasing Titanic in 2013 in 3D.

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A polar bear cub, born Nov. 30, plays with its mother at the Saint-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in Quebec. Photo: Mathieu Belanger-Reuters

Capping the Well by August?

And Other Dreams

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What a fiasco the great oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is becoming, with statistics changing almost hourly, and all for the worst. Although nothing like it had ever happened before, the industry was entirely unprepared to handle and close a leak at that depth. And while James Carville and other Louisiana lovers of nature and area seafood scream and holler at the region’s fate being left to the hands of BP, gigantic plumes of oil threaten all of the Gulf’s marine life, and many a fisherman’s livelihood is threatened, and visions of supertankers in the Gulf sucking up the oil and water, separating it, and returning the water, seems an option far into the future, if at all. But nothing else seems capable of solving the enormous problems the spill is creating.

The disaster, like the regulators relationship with the industry is pure Bush/Cheney, with the particular onus on Cheney as the policy, or lack thereof, was done by him in cahoots with the oil industry barons themselves, all in complete secrecy, and thanks to the courts it has remained secret until this day. Notice how quiet the Cheneys’ have been since the day the leak started. It’s been what, well over a month, and not a word out of any of them about how in danger the country is in thanks to Obama’s not having a clue about handling the terrorists. Well, thanks to Bush/Cheney’s oil policies which President Obama didn’t change fast enough, we now know the measure of real devastation.

Oil floats on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico around a work boat at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Tar balls and other oil debris from the giant, fragmented slick have reached Alabama's Dauphin Island, parts of Mississippi and are now less than 10 miles from Florida's northwest Panhandle. Photo: Sean Gardner-Reuters

Congress will of course have to investigate this disaster after the fact, and armed with proper subpoenas hopefully the country will finally learn just who added what to the Bush/Cheney top secret vision of the nation’s energy policy. And hopefully the Congress will finally ask, just why Cheney’s energy policy was labeled top secret in the first place; just what parts of it Dick Cheney was ashamed of, what parts he didn’t want people to know about? And why does a Democratic nation like ours accept secrecy in the formation of public policy in the first place?

Meantime, a fellow with the unlikely name of Leroy Stick set up a Twitter account pretending to be BP’s public relations department: Here are a few of his posts:

• Can we just start calling it the oilcean and move on please? #bpcares

• We've created something that will affect your children's children. Can YOU say the same about YOUR life? #nailedit #bpcares

• Think about it this way, the ocean is like rootbeer and oil is like ice cream. We just made America a giant rootbeer float!

• Just got the concession call from Exxon Valdez. They were great competitors and remarkably evil about everything. #bpwins!

• Lots of people blaming this on Bush or Obama. Pph, we wish. The truth is Presidents don't have any control over what we do. #bpcares

• A bird just stole my sandwich! You deserve everything you get, nature!!! #bpcares

• If Top Kill doesn't work, we're just gonna toss a giant “Get Well Soon” card into the gulf and hope for the best. #bpcares

• New solution: Everybody drive your cars into the gulf with your gas caps open! You'll get a full tank and we'll only charge $20 cash!

• Please help us with rebranding. We're not calling it an “oil spill” anymore, now it's a “Southern Fun Party.” #bpcares

• I'm sorry, are people mad at us for drilling in the ocean?!? Maybe God shouldn't have put oil there in the first place. DUH. #bpcares

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What this country needs is an ombudsman. A person with the power to question things like regulators relations with the companies they regulate. A person with the power to call persons to the witness chair before a disaster like the Gulf spill happens, not just conduct an inquiry after the fact. What’s the chance of having such an ombudsman put into place? None to zero. No president, Obama included, would willingly allow such a usurpation of the powers of the president and of the congress. However that in no way negates our pressing need for one.

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Ex-Beatle McCartney Wins Gershwin Award

Singer Paul McCartney accepts the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from President Obama in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-AP
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And with echoes of “Yesterday” running through our ears we bring another Little Eddy blog to a close. We apologize if we offended any Israelis with our comments on the raid, no scrap that. We will apologize to Israel right after she apologizes for attempting a blockade of Gaza aimed at starving its citizens to punish them for electing Hamas. As long as Israel refuses to recognize its own role in electing and keeping Hamas in power, peace in the middle east remains entombed along with Yitzak Rabin. What a crying shame.

Anyway to return to a positive note, it was good to hear McCartney reliving his Beatles hits. How sad that the other major Beatle lost his life at an assassin’s hand. One can only dream of which might have been had Mark David Chapman had kept his sorry ass in Hawaii.

A medical note as we close. Saw my new Oncologist Friday, he plans to do another bone marrow in July. He was hopeful that I possibly don’t have cml (chronic myeloid leukemia), but of course that will depend on the results of the bone marrow. He reports that there are now three drugs used in the treatment, and although all are expensive, it is possible to obtain them through plans. We will see what we will see.

At any rate, we’ve played out our hand for this week. Join us again next week for more of this irrelevant irreverence. Meantime, bye bye, keep your guard up and your chin down.

The Real Little Eddy §