Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blog # 156: Apple's Mystery Meeting, etc.

Apple’s Mystery Meeting?

Guesses galore as to the subject of an upcoming meeting called by Apple to exhibit a new product. As usual it is shrouded in secrecy, hottest rumors swirl around a newly priced AppleTv, renamed iTv, linked to the iTunes store and boasting tv program rentals for .99 cents. But why would Apple link such a product with so distinctive a guitar? What could possibly cause Apple to feature a guitar in its runup to the announcement? Maybe the Beatles are finally coming to the iTunes Store? Well, we can dream, can’t we?

While we’re being open and honest, here’s the real reason why we’ve been retreading our early writings these past few weeks. We have been living through a heat wave, our air conditioning unit has just barely made the indoor air liveable, and the only way we could produce was to explore early writings, and bringing them to a second life, as it were. There is no way we could be creative with new materials under those unholy conditions.

Most Irritating Current TV Ads

Speaking of ads, what are the most irritating television ads we’re seeing these days? Well, in my book it’s those incessant bp advertisements where good, ordinary people dripping with heavy Louisiana accents are telling the world how concerned they are about the damage to the Gulf of Mexico bp’s blown out well has done, and how bp is going to foot the entire cleanup bill, and so not to worry. bp is wasting tons of money just bringing these ads to television, money they should be spending on the actual clean up of the Gulf, not in telling us how well they are planning to clean up the Gulf. Get real, bpeople.

Favorite Commercial?

Of the current crop of commercials my absolute favorite belongs to Subaru. But then again Subaru has always been a very special and beautifully made automobile, designed with the owner in mind. One would expect that their selling powers would be superior, and with their newest offering one is not destined to be disappointed.

At any rate the ad shows a little girl curled up in the driver’s seat of a Subaru, she doesn’t look a day over nine or ten, curled up on the driver’s seat of the automobile. Her concerned father is standing outside the automobile, questioning her through the window, concerned that she can see (she does not seem to be tall enough to properly steer the automobile). Finally, seemingly convinced, he tosses her the keys. It is at that point that we see an entirely different girl, this one fully tall enough to steer the automobile. She waves to her dad as she drives off, and suddenly it became clear that the father had been seeing the girl through younger eyes, and as the commercial ends he is heard very quietly saying to himself, “we knew this day was coming, that’s why we bought a Subaru.”

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Where There’re Signs of Life . . .

There Must be Basketball in Our Future!

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming talks to reporters after a basketball workout in Houston. The smile that lights up his face is caused by the medical evaluation he had just undergone Monday, one which revealed that the hairline fracture in his surgically repaired left foot has fully healed. He has been cleared to take part in normal basketball activities, causing Rockets’ fans the city over to once again dream of playoff runs and championships. Denver’s Carmello Anthony is the latest NBA star to wish for a trade to the Rockets, so that he can play alongside Yao. Unfortunately no deal will be possible until Denver gets itself a new director of Basketball Operations, a position that is needed to be filled before any talk of a trade becomes possible. But it’s an intriguing thought, isn’t it? Photo: David J. Phillip-AP

”Seeing a Whole Lot of Red . . .”

People pelted one another with tomatoes during the Tomatina Festival in Spain's Valencia region. Tens of thousands of revelers from around the world participated in this year's mushy festivities. A bloody mess prevailed, for sure. Photo: Biel Alino-AFP/Getty Images

If you’re a boy, one of the many forces driving your world this time of year is the World Series of Little Leagues.

Waipahu, Hawaii's, Matthew Campos rounds third after hitting a three-run home run off Hamilton, Ohio, pitcher Brooks Robinson in the fourth inning of a game at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. Hawaii won 6-4. Photo: Gene J. Puskar-AP

Ed a "no show" during Hurricane Katrina

During the actual appearance of Hurricane Katrina at the end of August, 2005, I was having my own internal hurricane. I awoke that morning with bloody diahrea, I was weak and scared enough to allow my housemates to call 911. and I spent the next few days coming in and out of consciousness in Spring Branch Hospital. In fact, my condition was serious enough in the eyes of those around me that son Daniel was encouraged to fly down for what might have been a last visit.

And so it came to pass that I missed Hurricane Katrina as it was happening live, so to speak. Joel tried to bring it to life by later describing the television reports of the dead bodies rotting away in the flooded streets of New Orleans after the fact. And nothing speaks to the eloquence of failure like that photograph of George Bush looking down at the devastation of Hurricane Katrina through the window of Air Force One.

Now, five years down the pike, I am finally getting an idea of Hurricane Katrina’s enormity thanks to msnbc’s five year’s after coverage.

Katrina spoke eloquently to George W.'s failure as a steward to the federal government. Should the vast resources of the federal government be used to humor the foreign policy whims of the regime in power, or should our nation's resources be used to come to the aid of Americans who are wiped out in a real tragedy. Bush was obsesseds with Iraq and Sadam Hussein. Many failures dogged the Bush/Cheney administration. Iraq, Afghanistan, the "Donut Hole," but none spoke the word failure louder than Katrina. It ended up defining a Presidency.

Getting into Heaven with the help of a Cow

A child dressed as a cow participates in the Cow Festival "Gai Jatra" procession in Kathmandu, Nepal. During the festival, families who have lost a relative during the year parade a cow through the city. The cow, a sacred animal in Nepal, is supposed to help the departed soul to enter the afterlife. Photo: Prakash Mathema-AFP/Getty Images

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With the exception of the Apple Mystery Guitar, this week’s photographs have come from the Washington Post, and appeared on Wednesday of this week. I found it interesting that Yao Ming, who is a Houston phenemonen was featured in the Post’s photos, as if a nation, as well as the city of Houston, was interested in the state of Yao Ming’s playing health.

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This week’s doctor report continues with the idea of less equals more. Dr. Rakkhit reports that my white count is down, and consequently at the present time he is ordering no special treatment for my condition. In fact my next visit is set for 2 months, with the middle of November in my sights.

And so does this edition of Little Eddy’s Blog, seeking to prove “less equals more,” mercifully comes to an end. It was a thrill to relive Katrina five years after the fact. However five years have passed and only a fraction of Katrina's devastation has been rebuilt. Five years have passed, and we're nowhere near to rebuilding. And we as Americans are still faced with the problems Katrina raised. What kind of country are we? Are we going to support a federal government which comes to the aid of its citizens, as the Democrats support? Or are we going to run our federal bureaucracy in the interests of the very rich, as the Republicans would have us do? November will tell a most important tale, I guess. I can think of nothing that makes the current issues more clearly drawn.

Meantime we've run another of Little Eddy's Blog aground. We hope you’ll find your way back to these parts anytime next week, for an idea of what next week’s edition will bring. Meantime, bye now, and don’t forget to sell your Republican friends short. The shorter the better.

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blog # 155: Peace in the World . . .

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We began last week’s blog with a photograph showing a female soldier having an unforgettable homecoming experience as she greets her daughter. No sooner had that “gone to press” than we ran across the ultimate homecoming video. So we decided to begin this week’s blog with it. As they would say on 4chan, if you tear up you lose.

In recent weeks we have run some very pro-Apple Face Time iPhone commercials, designed to sell the iPhone’s capability in videotaping phone calls, a technology invented by Dick Tracy in the 1930's. Now is the time for a glance on the other side. FunnyorDie presents perhaps a more realistic iPhone commercial. It worked for us, we laughed rather than expired, and we’d suggest you do it anytime or anyplace. Enjoy.

For our lookback into yesteryear we have elected to revisit Blog # 119, which was published on January 12. 2007: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were still in power in those feckless days, Peace in the World, or the World in Pieces was only the lyrics of a song (and perhaps an unattainable dream.)

Blog #19 Peace in the World, or the World in Pieces . .

Lord Have Mercy, did you read what George McGovern, that old peace monger from the Nixon era, proposed. He must have paid a visit to the ghost of fabled monkey glands surgeon Dr. Brinkley for he seems to have grown a set of rejuvenated gonads.

George McGovern

This usually quiet spoken minister’s son published an opinion piece in the Outlook section of the Washington Post the other day entitled “Why I Believe Bush-Cheney Must Go. Nixon Was Bad. These Guys Are Worse,” in which he respectfully suggested that Bush-Cheney have committed acts far more impeachable than Richard Nixon ever did, and asks why the current Democratic leadership is so opposed to beginning proceedings against them, noting how the Republicans put together proceedings against Bill Clinton during the waning years of his presidency for a lot less than the high crimes and misdemeanors which Bush-Cheney have committed.

Among other things he listed as among the high crimes, misleading the country about weapons of mass destruction, running the war on the cheap resulting in many casualties, widespread torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo in violation of Geneva Conventions, and on and on.

Of course it will never happen. Unlike Republicans who seem to love investigations more than sex (and thereby life) itself, and who seem to find lies and slander the spice of their lives (look at the harassing of Bill Clinton during both of his terms, and the lies bellowed by Swift Boat Liars for Democrats seem to be uncomfortable spewing negative vibes. They would much rather get something positive done, but unfortunately their majority is too thin, and on most issues the Republicans have closed ranks.

Still the positive thing about McGovern’s suggestion is the joining of both Bush and Cheney in the indictment, it would never do to have Bush impeached alone thereby leaving a fox like Cheney in charge of our national chicken coop. The other interesting possibility, should the Dems ever have the audacity to make an actual impeachment happen, would be in the person to whom the Presidency would be handed. As best we can remember from our high school Civics class the third in line is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position presently held by Nancy Pelosi. Wouldn’t that sell one helluva lot of Alka Seltzers to those of a Republican persuasion?

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Bush Embarks on “so-called” peace mission

As our revered leader embarked to the Middle East on his long overdue “so called” peace mission (perhaps “legacy” would be the more descriptive term), reverberations from the intrusion onto some of our Persian Gulf naval fleet by supposed Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels in the Strait of Hormuz were causing ominous threats to spew from said presidential orifice. Iran first dismissed U.S. concerns about the incident, saying it was a routine contact, and then denied doing anything. And lately even the Navy is questioning the authenticity of the bomb threats.

Of course our nation’s eyes are primarily focussed on the race to succeed His Supreme Irrelevancy, for in all honesty those who care about the comings and goings of our country’s last and greatest mistake are few and far between. And just because our Navy has an ongoing history of this kind of trumped up confrontation that is no excuse for Iran claiming this latest confrontation was faked. How many of you out there can remember the Tonkin Bay incident, the fictional naval encounter which Lyndon Johnson used as his excuse to officially interfere militarily in Vietnam, a permission which was later rescinded by the U. S. Congress after belatedly discovering the inherent falsity of the so-called encounter? But of course by then it was too late. Once you get in a war, you play hell getting out again unless one side or the other is vanquished completely.

Is the Iranian “incident” being used by that whitest of houses in a desperate attempt to call attention to our much ignored leader, giving him one last shot at garnering some positive scrutiny while pretending relevance as he attempts to exude strength and purpose? Or is this yet another nail in the coffin leading to a military conflict with Iran? With Tonkin Bay in mind what in the world could possibly make some of us think, “here we go again?” Keep your ears open and if the war drums continue maybe it’s time to seriously consider the McGovern alternative.

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New Hampshire goes to the polls

Last Tuesday brought New Hampshire voters to the polls. It was a very surprising day from start to finish. All afternoon CNN was broadcasting polls which showed Barack Obama running ten points ahead of Hilary Clinton in New Hampshire. And time and time again they replayed a video of Bill Clinton berating the news media for going soft on questioning Obama about his stance on the war.

If you were for Hillary things looked really bleak. After all, the polls seemed to have been accurate in Iowa, so why wouldn’t they be accurate in New Hampshire? It was more than a little depressing as I tuned away from CNN at six to watch the Houston Rockets win their game 92-84 against the Washington Wizards, and that soon buoyed my spirits.

At game’s end I turned back to CNN just in time to find out that John McCain had been declared the winner in the Republican contest, no great surprise there as that had been the prediction for days on end. But there was no winner yet in the Democratic race, although Hillary was ahead with Obama running second. About an hour later the Associated Press was the first to declare Hillary the winner, then thirty or so minutes later CNN finally declared her the winner.

The media, in my case CNN, was near apoplectic trying to understand and explain to the rest of us the complete turn around from an afternoon of total Obama dominance to the stark reality check the late evening brought. How could this have happened? one pundit after another mused. I hate to tell them, but maybe they should have all shut up until the polls had closed, after which time they might have some real facts to pass along instead of the ego fed malarkey that passed in lieu of information. Because as we discover time and time again, much of the speculation before the fact is simply ungrounded fantasy. And obviously those highly inaccurate p0lls didn’t do a thing to shape the election in New Hampshire, for if voters there had been listening to CNN and probably the other news channels they would undoubtedly have turned the election in the direction the pundits were predicting, human nature being what it is dictates that most people want to vote for a winner.

It is for this reason that the courts have forbidden announcing election results until all of the polls have closed. The deciding case was from an election in Houston, Texas in the 1940’s. Former Harris County Judge Roy Hoffeinz owned tv station KTRK, channel 13, in Houston. He was very much the politician (He also built, with Harris County’s assistance, the Astrodome in Houston, the nation’s first domed stadium.) and all day during a local election in which he had an interest, his channel broadcast results from precincts favoring his point of view, and suppressed reporting precincts which didn’t support his position. All in hopes of swaying late voters to support the position he was trying to sell.

The other side ended up winning in spite of Hoffeinz’s attempted manipulation, and they brought the case to the courts which ultimately ruled in the favor of the plaintiffs and ended by invoking the rule that prevails to this day, the rule preventing radio and tv stations from announcing any election results until all polling stations have closed.

And so these days while the polls are still open all the media can report on are pre election polls and other iffy data, data which obviously can be wrong. And just how non useful this can be was proven last Tuesday as the people of New Hampshire voted.

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And from the wire services comes this: It was such a girlish question, Marianne Pernold Young wasn't sure she should ask it. There she was, within touching distance of a very smart Hillary Rodham Clinton at a little New Hampshire coffee shop where a handful of other very smart women had spent an hour asking very smart questions about immigration and national security — and the only thing she could think to ask, the only thing she really wanted to know, was: How do you do it?

So when the microphone came around one last time, she asked the question that helped to steady the listing campaign of the first woman with a real shot at the White House: "As a woman, I know it's hard to get out of the house and get ready. My question is very personal: How do you do it?"

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the grilling by the news media, Clinton's response to that one girlish question was what the Clinton high command later would call a eureka moment, eliciting a glimpse of humanity from the famously self-controlled senator from New York. It was just one of several factors that led to her close New Hampshire victory, but it already has entered the realm of political legend.

In interviews later, Pernold Young said she admires Clinton and was delighted to have evoked a side of her that could "help her with future press conferences and rallies." But she couldn't help noticing that after the famous question was answered, Clinton "turned to the right and went right into political rhetoric again." Which she went on to explain is why she ended up voting for Barack Obama.

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Charles Gibson who hosted the Friday night debate sponsored by ABC News, Facebook and WMUR, a local tv outlet, for both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates did a clever thing. The Republican hopefuls led off and as their debate ended Gibson urged the candidates who were on stage to greet their Democratic rivals who were coming onstage for their debate. There followed a convivial few moments of backslapping as these more or less bitter partisan enemies pretended affection for one another.

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Apple’s chief honcho, Steven P. Jobs, can rest easy and sleep nightmare free these days, for according to a Reuters report quoting retiring Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the software company that some see as a monopolistic force in the software industry will not try and put out an imitation iPhone, as it has with its iPod “busting” Zune.

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Microsoft will not launch a product that competes directly with Apple's iPhone, Chairman Bill Gates said in an interview with Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "No, we won't do that. In the so-called smart phone business we will concentrate solely on software with our Windows Mobile program," Gates was quoted as saying in the interview published on Wednesday. "We have partnerships with a lot of device manufacturers from Samsung to Motorola and this variety brings us significantly more than if we would make our own mobile phone," he added.

According to Reuters, Apple's iPhone, which also plays music and lets users browse the internet, has been a big hit. Recent reports indicate that in only one quarter, the iPhone already owns 27% of the smart phone market, far ahead of the combined offerings Windows Mobile, Symbian, and Palm, and second only to the Blackberries of Research In Motion. And for a most incisive story on the birth and development of the iPhone, go here!

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Shades of Abbie Hoffman and his famous “Steal This Book”, a movie called Steal This Film 2 produced by a group calling itself The League of Noble Peers, is already a huge success, with over 150,000 downloads in 4 days. But what is most intriguing, is that people are being very generous and the movie has raised over $5,000 in its first 4 days. When Steal This Film 1 was released the Nobles asked each down loader to donate $1 and most did just that. However, this time around the majority have donated $15 or more. Why is that, you might well ask? Well Torrent Freak says it could be the that down loaders have been motivated by a mystery gift that was offered if they donated $15 or more.

On his blog Jamie King, the producer of the film says, “Over 90% of people donating are deciding to go over the artificial $15 threshold we set. But I don’t think people literally ‘want that gift’; I think they want an excuse to be generous!” I guess we could label this tactic “radioheading.” It’s a shame that Radiohead, the band, elected to keep the figures that their fans voluntarily paid for downloading their latest album a secret. If the record companies could get a clear picture of the tactic’s effectiveness maybe they would try it themselves, since nothing else they are doing these days seems to be working worth a tinker’s damn.

However, on second thought I’m pretty sure they don’t have the faith in their customers to exercise such genuine trust. Obviously they feel more comfortable suing the lovers of their music.

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Imagine buying a video recorder with this message accompanying it: “HACKERS, welcome! Here are detailed circuit diagrams of our products — modify them as you wish.” Most of us think of the word hack in terms of illegality, combining the web and the term hack convey thoughts of criminality to most of us. However that’s exactly what the manufacturers of a new device, the Neuros OSD want you to do. While most electronic gadget manufacturers tend to keep information about the innards of their products as secret as they can, Neuros Technology International, creator of the new afore mentioned video recorder, has decided to take matters in a different direction.

The company, based in Chicago, is providing full documentation of the hardware platform for its recorder, the Neuros OSD (stands for open source device), so that skilled users can customize or “hack” the device — and then pass along the improvements to others. The OSD is a versatile recorder. Using a memory card or a U.S.B. storage device, it saves copies of DVDs, VHS tapes and television programs from satellite receivers, cable boxes, TVs and any other device with standard video output. Because the OSD saves the recordings in the popular compressed video format MPEG-4 (pronounced EM-peg), the programs can be watched on a host of devices, including iPods and smart phones. The OSD is for sale at Fry’s, Micro Center, J&R Electronics and other locations for about $230.

The OSD not only has open hardware, but also has open software: it is based on the Linux operating system. Neuros Technology encourages hacking of the device; and has contests with cash rewards for new applications for the OSD. One winner, for instance, designed a program that lets people use it to watch YouTube on their televisions. The OSD’s capabilities will grow to suit changing times, said Joe Born, founder and chief executive of the company. “Digital video is a fast-moving space,” he said, “and many consumers don’t want to buy a new piece of hardware every time a media company comes out with a new way to watch its shows. The best way to address this problem was to make the product open source, allowing our smartest developers and users to modify it.” To read more go here!

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In a blog called A VC, Musings of a VC in NYC, the author muses over a chart showing the usage of various media, which inspired him to begin studying the way his own teenagers were using the media. In doing so he came up an interesting observation. “When they walk into a DVD store, they rarely walk out with a movie. It’s almost always the first season of a TV show they’ve heard is good. They’ll go see a movie in the theater but don’t really enjoy watching movies at home or on their computers. They feel that TV shows are better written and more interesting. And the entertainment value is certainly more compelling.

For roughly $40 they got something like 25 episodes of Brothers and Sisters. That's almost 17 hours of entertainment for $40. That's hard to beat. And they get the bonus of being able to start watching the show on TV once they've caught up. It makes me wonder where this is headed. I don’t know enough about the economics of TV shows versus films, but it may be that digital technology is changing the way the younger generation will consume filmed entertainment in some important ways. Something to think about. And maybe why the writers are striking.”

Louise Lasser as Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Reading that piece I couldn’t help agreeing with that man’s teenagers. I recently bought a DVD of the first 25 episodes of Mary Hartman-Mary Hartman (Sony Pictures, $18 from I found this a wonderful value. The 25 episodes are on three separate disks, and together they hold 564 commercial free minutes.

It was wonderful getting a chance to see MH2 once again, I had been curious to know if it would be as habit forming in 2008 as it had been when I first saw the series in 1976-77. And it probably won’t come to you as much of a surprise that I did find it to be every bit as addictive this time around, with the added bonus that the images appeared sharp and clear on my lcd computer screen, not filled with the tv ghosts that marred the original broadcast image.

The discs had a catalogue of other available Sony TV shows accompanying them, but none of the other shows appealed to me. My only regret is that Sony hasn’t made the next 25 MHMH2 episodes available. And the ones after that. To me MH2 was truly one of a kind. Since receiving it I have seen the first 25 episodes two times through and am in the middle of my third go around. I’ll know more after I’ve seen a few more episodes, but after just watching episode one again, I think I have a clue as to the why of its addictive qualities.

I attribute Mh2/s addictiveness to the fact that it was the first television program to honestly portray a truly dysfunctional American family to a television audience of dysfunctional families. (Aren’t we all dysfunctional in one way or another?) Mary was sexually frustrated, husband Tom was impotent, at least as far as Mary was concerned, although he managed to get it up with Mae Olson from the plant before he began wallowing in guilt over it. Mary’s sister slept with a different boy each week. Her neighbor Loretta Haggars was a would-be country singer who turned the neighborhood murder of the Lombardy family of five and two goats and six chickens into a weird tear jerking country song, and then there was Mary’s grandpa Larkin, who liked to exhibit his god given endowments for the Fernwood female population to admire and in so doing earned himself the title of Fernw0od Flasher.

One of the most indelible characterizations was Dody Goodman’s portrayal of Martha Shumway as Mary’s mother, who was always in a cloud of confusion and on the edge of fainting as she was desperately trying to comprehend the actions of the people around her, and for compensation she had long conversations with her plants.

The show was a parody of the real daytime soaps, the main difference being that instead of its character’s quirks being labeled in euphemisms, the show called a spade a spade. Norman Lear explained that Mary Hartman Mary Hartman appeared twice because everything it soap operas was repeated twice. Appearing five days a week and using close ups and other filming techniques characteristic of the real soaps, the program soon crept into the heart of its audience. The characters were very human and although quirky they were plainly lovable, who could not help but get caught up in such epic drama?

The writing staff consisted of Gail Parent, Ann Marcus, Jerry Adelman, and Daniel Gregory Browne, Marcus being also known for her work on the daytime soap Search for Tomorrow. The opening episode told of the mass murder of a neighborhood family, the Lombardy family, it soon turned out that Mary’s daughter Heather (didn’t you just know that Mary Hartman would have a daughter named Heather?) had seen the murderer of the Lombardy family, and would be followed by the him. It was also in that first episode that we learned that Mary’s grandpa Larkin had a fondness for going trouserless while opening his raincoat at strategic moments.

Meantime the Psychiatric Social worker assigned by the courts to counsel grandpa Larkin proceeds to fall in love with him. Now I realize that such a plot line sounds a bit thin when stated so baldly, but if you stop and think about it most any plot line will sound thin when distilled into a few words. What made the show come alive for many of us was the skill of the actors, and the intimate way they were photographed.

As unique as MH2 was in it’s casting and structure, the way the show was presented to the world was equally one of a kind. The networks, or course, wouldn’t get anywhere near such a bundle of outspoken honesty, there was no cable back then, so as a result the show was sold in syndication to independent stations throughout the country. They were presented with five episodes a week. Fearful of its outspokenness some stations would not air the show until after the late evening news. However a few stations, since they had nothing else of such interest, would play the entire week’s episodes, one after the other, every night of the week. The cast, and particularly Louise Lasser, were under a serious strain, having to rehearse the next day’s episode in the morning, and then tape that day’s episode in the afternoon. Every day, five days a week.

As a result of the strain of the schedule Mary Hartman had a nationally televised nervous breakdown on The David Susskind Show at the end of the first season. Mary then opened the second season in a psychiatric ward, and she was delighted to be part of their selected Nielsen Ratings “family.” By its second season many Americans were thoroughly addicted to MH2, and this group included the author Gore Vidal, who was enamored with it enough that he appeared as himself in it’s later days. Among the actors who were propelled to greater heights were Dabney Coleman who played the somewhat devious mayor of Fernwood, and Martin Mull who played two characters on the program, one the wife beater Garth Gimble who committed suicide, and the other, his brother who was talk show host Barth Gimble. Mull also emceed the program’s summer replacement, a pseudo talk show called Fernwood 2Night (which very likely was the first instance of the number 2 being used as a substitute for the prefix to, a process common these days, especially on the web. p2p, etc.)

When Louise Lasser exited the show by running off with her policeman boyfriend, the show continued for a time as Forever Fernwood, following the trials and tribulations of Mary's family and friends. The series finally ended in 1978, after only 26 weeks on the air, along with the talk show parody spin-off Fernwood 2-Night. A total of 130 half-hour episodes were produced.

As a postscript Mary Kay Place was nominated for a Grammy award on the strength of the album Tonite! At the Capri Lounge, Loretta Haggars on which she sang as her MH2 character. One of the songs Place wrote for the album, “Baby Boy,” climbed to the Top 60 on Billboard's Pop Charts, and #3 on the country charts, in 1976. Place also won an Emmy for her performance on the show.

The show's writers realized Loretta Haggars' newfound fame made it harder to keep her character in Fernwood, so they devised a story line wherein the country and western star makes an anti-semitic, career-shattering remark on the Dinah Shore talk show.

According to the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Wikipedia page the series was again syndicated on local stations briefly in 1982, and enjoyed some short-lived air time on the television channel TV Land in 2002. Aside from the two-volume videocassette issued in the 1980s and bootlegged videos, the show has been difficult to find on any format. With the exception of the first 25 episodes which are available on DVD, many fans have been unable to watch most of the episodes from this series.

In the year 2000 many of the original cast appeared on a panel for a Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman retrospective at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills, CA. The panel discussion was taped for the museum's archives. It is the wish of MH2 fans the world over, and most especially this one, that this discussion be either aired on the channel’s website (if it has one), or at the very least be issued on DVD. Also many of us plead for as many as possible of MH2’s other 105 episodes be issued on DVD. And a note to Sony: If some enterprising entity would put the entire series on blue-ray disks I know at least one person who would take the plunge and buy a player just to be able to watch the series in its entirety.

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And here’s a tale of bureaucratic incompetence to brighten your day. Would you believe? The FBI routinely failed to pay telecom companies promptly for providing phone and internet lines to the FBI's impressive domestic surveillance architecture – resulting in at least one phone company cutting off a foreign intelligence wiretap until the FBI paid up. Damn, those greedy phone companies want to get paid for their wires.

Former FBI agent and now ACLU national security policy counsel Mike German directed his ire at the telecoms who happily played along with the government's warrantless spying and let the FBI illegally get customer records following requests to get surveillance today with false promises to pay with a court order tomorrow. "To put it bluntly it sounds as though the telecoms believe it when FBI says warrant is in the mail but not when they say the check is in the mail," German said. For the complete story go here!

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And finally, has begun enabling the embedding of its videos onto other websites, and so it is our distinct pleasure to be able to offer you the video of Harry Shearer rendering his well known ode to the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, “Waterboarding U.S.A.”

Keep America number one indeed! Bless you, Harry Shearer, for that most delightful parody of a Beach Boys type song. And for keeping up with Harry’s latest, check out his story of Katrina and New Orleans, which is playing one night only, on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

May we invite you to join us again next week, same spot in your browser’s window, sporting our woefully misspelled web address, with its double t’s, double l’s, double e’s, and double d’s. Put all together it takes you to: where we hope to meet you once again next week. We post on Saturday mornings. Bye bye!

The Real Little Eddy §

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blog #154: Unforgettable Moments

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Unforgettable Homecoming – Photo from

This week’s photographs come to us from an unlikely source, You can tell from their skewered humor and their lack of boundaries.

Incidentally, we need to list a warning for the 5th photograph in today’s collection. It shows an impressive set of uncovered female mammaries being held up by a toy replica of the Incredible Hulk.

Now, I have read that uncovered female mammaries are verboten on Facebook. New mothers trying to post photos of themselves nursing their newborns have had their photos arbitrarily taken down. Facebook seems to classify the female breasts as either obscene or titillating, neither of which is allowed on Facebook.

We could never in a thousand years classify those blessed female appendages which are a baby’s first source of food as obscene. And though they could easily be onomatopoeically deemed titillating, we feel sure that the ones the Hulk is holding up are too skewered to be so classified.

At any rate we present the photograph for your amusement. If you are indeed offended by uncovered female mammaries or are too young for such a sighting as deemed by political leaders of your city or state, please avoid that photo like the plague. And as for the rest of you, enjoy! §

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Oracle’s Ellison on H.P. CEO’s firing

Larry Elison, the outspoken CEO of Oracle, has a way with words, and a firm grasp on reality. In an impassioned e-mail sent to The New York Times, Mr. Ellison chided H.P.’s board for what he said was a grave mistake.

“The H.P. board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs many years ago,” Mr. Ellison wrote. “That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them.

“In losing Mark Hurd, the H.P. board failed to act in the best interest of H.P.’s employees, shareholders, customers and partners,” Mr. Ellison wrote. “The H.P. board admits that it fully investigated the sexual harassment claims against Mark and found them to be utterly false.”

The San Francisco’s Technology Blog dug further into the H.P. board’s action, and decided that the board had been looking for an excuse to rid themselves of Hurd, as he who straightened out the company’s stock value was not popular with employees of the company, or so the Chronicle’s Tech Blog reported.

Personally I have never been interested in owning HP computers, because they run the Windows operating system, which I rate far below Apple’s OS X. I do buy HP printers, and presently have one which is fully operational. These present day printers also operate as copiers and Fax machines. However, in the history of Silicon Valley, H.P. is not your ordinary company, as it too began in a garage, and it once employed the two Steves, Wozniak and Jobs, who later went on to form Apple computer. §

Playing the South Tower Game – Photo from

My Days and Nights with the Professional Left

As one who spends his day these days with my television tuned to msnbc, from Morning Joe through the Daily Rundown, the Andrea Mitchell show, and evenings with Hardball with Chris Matthews, Countdown with Keith Olberman, and ending my day with the Rachel Maddow Show, I am what could easily be labeled a “news junkie.” And the latest public freakout was held by presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs, who publicly railed about what he termed the Professional Left not giving the President the time of day.

And of course, the Professional Left has a genuine beef. In spite of the fact that it has supported the president from the very beginning, the president has usually begun each project by watering it down in hopes of getting at least a few Republicans to support it.

Of course, Republicans play along with him so as to influence the shape of the legislation as much as possible, but deep in their hearts they are absolutely convinced that the best way for the GOP to regain majorities in the House and Senate is to refuse to cooperate with the Dems no matter what. And talk about your lock step, Republicans are nothing if not disciplined. In the Senate the most GOP that he has been able to get to cross over the line are the two female Senators from Maine, and on one or two occasions, the Massachusetts Senator who replaced the long serving Ted Kennedy, Senator Brown.

And so instead of railing against the administration’s true enemies, the Republican minority which is trying to trash its every accomplishment, Gibbs turns on the Professional Left. ‘Tis true the ProLeft has criticized the administration when it came up short of expectations, but they would be quick to point out, they are coming from the same page, reading from the same playbook. At least until the administration waters one of the projects down to the point where the Professional Left can’t recognize it any more.

At which point they just might have to raise a voice or two in criticism. §

We’re not really serious with this one, but it sure looks awesome, don’t it? Wouldn’t we love to be high on what that baby is high on. However, being a baby, chances are he was simply high on life. Photo from, where else? –

Watching the Country Turn on the Presidents Projects

We’re still reeling from polls showing the country turning against President Obama’s policies, on the war, on the economy, on the direction the country is going, you name it, the polls indicate that the voters are turning against it. The only good element of the polls is that Republicans are in deeper doo doo than are the Dems.

At least the Democrats have been active, doing every thing they can to turn the economy around. They saved Chrysler and General Motors, both of which nearly went belly up a year ago, and both of which were saved as President Obama gave each short term loans and instructions to make their product more relevant. Republicans and dog eat dog libertarians screamed to high heaven, in their idea a pure capitalist society would let such troubled companies go under. But if Obama had done that the ever profitable Ford would have probably gone under too as the parts suppliers which supply all three would have probably been forced to shut down.

The most ludicrous aspect of the current situation is the idea that the Republicans, who ran our economy into the ditch in the first place by giving the wealthy a pass go on taxes, and then starting two wars, and finally giving seniors much needed help with prescription drugs without either properly funding it, or at least negotiating lower prices from the drug companies. And these same Republicans have done nothing but obstruct since Obama has come into office, and yet they seem to be favored by the so-called professional political pundits on TV.

Are the American people really that stupid, that they would reward the party that has done nothing over the party that is breaking their testicles trying to pull the country out of the ditch Bush and his GOP cohorts drove us into. If this is true I for one see no reason to go on living in this country. It will be interesting to see what really happens come November. Are these TV Pundits speaking from knowledge, or talking through their hats.

Stay tuned. §

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Blues Brother in Relief

Image from

Looking Back in Awe

Two weeks ago we presented a slightly rewritten version of our Blog #4, Nothing Can Stop the Army Air Corps. I have since decided to troll some of my early blogs, to liberate the writing, for even though it is theoretically possible to access those early blogs, when you try to access them your computer more often than not it times out. There are simply too many blogs to allow easy access.

For this week’s flashback we went all the way back to Blog #1. What follows are my first writings for my blog. After an introductory paragraph we recited a true anecdote from my radio announcing days. How many people do you know who have talked to the mute Marx Brother, Harpo Marx, on the telephone. Well, I for one have. Read on for our very first blogging words.


It occurs to me that I have been selfishly living in my own little world, having not near enough to do with family and/or friends. It's not that I am hopelessly selfish, although that's probably a good part of it. But time races by, and I'll not be here forever, and there really are things I should remember and share with my family and friends. And so I am beginning what I hope will be a weekly blog, at first at least without the web and consequently a log with no b in front of it. If I can write a weekly fantasy for mrdouble I should be able to write down some of my reminiscences, and as number one son Daniel pointed out some time back, I owe it to all to do it. Particularly to grandchildren, Cedar and Sol.


I think I would like to start my reminiscences with a tale from my radio days. At one point I was working for a sports oriented station called KATL, and one Saturday afternoon I was the only person at the station and was preparing to get a feed from Lee Hedrick, our sports announcer who was preparing to broadcast a Harlem Globetrotter's game from Hoffeinz Pavilion, a well known Houston basketball pavilion.

All of a sudden the phone rang and when I picked it up the voice on the other end identified himself as Harpo Marx. Harpo, you might remember, was the mute Marx brother. He never said a word in their films and stage shows. I wasn’t thinking clearly, I should have made him do his characteristic honk to authenticate himself. However he must be used to people not believing he can talk since he had gone to great lengths to keep his illusion of muteness in his stage and screen personas. However, he soon managed to convince me of his true identity, pointing out that he and Chico were playing an engagement at the Shamrock Hotel, and reading about the game in the morning paper made him think of putting a call into the station that was broadcasting the game. He had an interesting proposition for the producers of the Globetrotters game. Harpo volunteered himself and Chico for a free halftime show if they would let them in to watch the game.

I got Lee Hedrick on the phone from the stadium, and had him relay Harpo’s proposition to the management there. Hedrick hung up to pursue the matter with the producers. A couple of minutes later Lee was back on the phone with word that the game was totally sold out, there was not even standing room, but if Harpo and Chico would agree to watch the game from the lighting booth up in the rafters they could come on down. I relayed the message to Harpo and he squealed with delight.

From the overwhelming laughter at halftime I could only guess that Harpo and Chico gave the Globe Trotters one helluva halftime show. Unfortunately this was radio, television was in its beginnings, but was a ways down the road. And Lee had prepared recorded material for halftime, and so there was no way I could have seen the show or even gotten a description of what was going on in that halftime show that I had a small part in making happen.

Incidentally, Harpo sounded not unlike brother Chico on the telephone, but he would never spoil the illusion of muteness he had created by saying a word on stage or on camera, no matter how much money he was offered to do so.

For me his segments always were a welcome interlude in Marx Brothers movies, for his comedy was completely visual, and it contrasted well with Groucho’s verbal routines, and Harpo always ended up playing the harp, moments which for me were the definite high points of the Marx Brothers movies. In fact, thanks to Harpo I formed a lifelong fondness for music played on the harp, a fondness I developed long before that afternoon I happened to talk to Harpo on the telephone. §

The Hulk’s Heaviest Load – Photo from

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And so a breathless and exhausted HULK brings us to the end of yet another Little Eddy Blog. Next Friday will bring a return visit to the doctors, and on next Saturday’s upload we will hopefully have some indication of the medication and treatment for my white corpuscle uprising, which thankfully is not cml, popularly known as leukemia.

What we will have in next week’s blog is more of the same, new gems laced with golden oldies. We hope you will find your way back anytime next week, we post on Saturday mornings, and keep our post up for an entire week, until the following Saturday reels in our new one.

Anyway, this week’s tape is all played out. Hopefully we’ll see you again. Meantime don’t take any wooden Republicans, though I’m not sure there’s any other kind. Bye now.

The Real Little Eddy §

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blog # 153: Looking back in horror!

Joe Bad X Rides Again!!!

If you clicked on the arrow above you heard Joe Bad X’s newest video, his cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s Revelation (Mother Earth). Joe Bad X is the stage name of Joel Alan Badeaux, m.d., psychiatrist, #2 son, and some might say, chip off the old block. It was like three weeks ago that Joel flew to Houston for a weekend, rounded up his old friend Keith Silverstein to hold the camera, and together they shot video in front of the BP headquarters building here in Houston, and in Galveston and Louisiana, as they were looking for visual evidence of BP’s negligent incompetence.

YouTube brought him other images, of an oil covered pelican, of the explosion at the drilling platform, he even superimposed images of the mass of oil wells burning in Kuwait, during the first gulf war. Three weeks later the first of the two videos he hopes to get from the trip is up on YouTube. Joel has been on vacation since his graduation from residency in June. Now he is back and hard at work as a much higher paid staff psychiatrist at the hospital where he did his residency. §

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US Finally Joins Hiroshima’s 65th Anniversary

Paper lanterns float in the Motoyasu River in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima to mark the 65th anniversary of the World War II atomic bombing. For the first time, representatives from the U.S. joined others from more than 70 nations at the emotional event. Photo: Toru Yamanaka-AFP/Getty Images

An elderly couple burns incense to mourn victims of the 1945 bombing, which killed roughly 140,000 people, at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. Photo: Toru Yamanaka-AFP/Getty Images

Shuji Kajiyama-ATsuyuko Nakao, 92, right, and Kinuyo Ikegami, 77, who both lost family members in the Hiroshima bombing, console each other at Peace Memorial Park. Photo: Shuji Kajiyama-AP

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LIFE Magazine’s Photos of Hiroshima,

Nagasaki Finally Seen

As proof yet again of why we need an entity like Wikileaks to publish documents your government or your businesses don’t want you to see, we offer the five photographs below. They were taken by three of LIFE Magazine’s finest photographers, but the magazine never published them at the time.

In fact, they have not been seen until this week, when they finally got published by the Washington Post in its web edition. Why did we have to wait 65 years before people could see them?

Chances are the Military and the government convinced LIFE not to publish these images at the time, for fear they might have turned some Americans against the military’s dropping of the two atomic bombs, which the military hurried to drop as the Japanese sent out peace feelers, in order to test the bomb's efficacy as a weapon before the Japanese surrendered, after which such tests would have been impossible.

What do you think? Should LIFE have held these photographs back for fear of ticking off the military and the government? Even 65 years after the fact they are moving. §

Bernard Hoffman • LIFE • Hiroshima, 1945

Bernard Hoffman • LIFE • Nagasaki, 1945

Alfred Eisenstaedt • LIFE • Nagasaki, 1945

Bernard Hoffman • LIFE • Nagasaki, 1945

J.R. Eyerman • LIFE • Hiroshima, 1945

One night several months ago I was googling John Hersey’s Hiroshima, and I got a Google reproduction of Hersey’s New Yorker article. Thinking it would be the perfect reading material to accompany the LIFE Hiroshima and Nagasaki photos, I once again Googled Hersey Hiroshima. This time I again got the article scanned from the pages of The New Yorker. An excellent way to compliment the experience of those LIFE Magazine photographs would be for you to google John Hersey Hiroshima, and read the article which filled an entire issue of The New Yorker for yourself, which you can do by pointing your cursor and clicking here!.

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The GOP’s Arrogant Assumptions

Monumental is one of the many descriptive phrases you can use to describe the arrogant assumptions of the Republican right. They have been locksteppingly consistent in their opposition to anything Obama or Democratic. And in their mountainous arrogance, they think, or say they think, that the voters of this country think their way, and are going to reward them (Republicans) in the fall elections by putting GOP candidates in power, casting out their democratic forebears.

Is this really true? Or are the Mitch McConnells, John Boehners and their like whistling Dixie? In a Political Graveyard?

Take one Obama talking point, for example. When Obama lent money to GM and Chrysler because to let them go out of business as the capitalist purists and the dog eat dog libertarians would have had us do, such negligence would have also killed all of the parts providers, which would have also brought down the profitable Ford Motor Co.

Well, to make a long story interminable, these days both GM and Chrysler are showing profits, the American taxpayers have been, or are in the process of being paid back, and yet another Obama decision is seen in hindsight as having been absolutely right in his decision to use the power of the presidency to save two of America’s leading homegrown automakers, and more importantly saving the jobs of their workers in the car companies, and in the many suppliers which would have gone under had Obama decided to let the Big Two go under.

Obama is quite right using the analogy that Republicans want Americans to put them back into power, thereby giving the GOP the “keys” to run the country once again. But what would they do if given the keys again? Exactly what they did to run the economy into the ditch in the first place, starting with those famous Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, which gave our most wealthy few a free pass past go in the funding of our two wars, and the not paid for drug relief for our seniors. Is the American voter really seriously thinking about putting Republicans back in charge? My god, I hope not! Don’t we ever learn? Stay tuned. §

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Two Mac Programs I Can’t Live Without

There are two small application programs that I don’t think I could live without. iKey, which is a program that allows you to open applications or documents with key combinations, which saves you having to click on its icon in the dock to open them. iKey saves all kinds of time and eases frustration.

When I first considered iKey I was afraid I’d not be able to remember the key combinations. And so I standardized them. I used the Mac’s control key plus the letter key standing for the app. Control+P opens Photoshop, control+g opens graphic converter, etc. For combinations requiring two actions (opening a web browser, then opening an URL, I use the option key+shift key.

And iKey can also be controlled by the clock embedded in your computer. For instance, every morning at exactly six a.m. iKey wakes up my iMac from its nightly nap. Then at ten past six it opens up my primary web browser Camino (which comes from Mozilla, but unlike Firefox, which was made for Windows, Camino was developed specifically for the Mac). At ten after six iKey not only opens Camino but not stopping there, it goes on to open the Houston Chronicle online.

But the other program, which is even more useful when you’re writing or being creative, is called CopyPaste, and it allows you to both assemble a clip archive of your choosing (each item available in what you are working on with a single click), and another of its creations keeps track of every save you make to your clipboard, compiling a kind of history of your clipboarding experience. Each item in History is also available with a single click.

My main clip archive holds all of my html symbols, I keep the archive open, and as I begin a paragraph I click on the paragraph symbol, and it magically appears on the document I’m using to write out this week’s blog. I write my blog using Apple’s newest word processing program, Pages. At the paragraph’s end I click on the symbol which announces the end of the paragraph, and lo and behold it too appears.

If you have written in html you can instantly see how useful such a program could be. Having all of the html symbols that you need a mouse clock away rather than having to fill them in as you write, that is something that would indeed be a gift from the Gods.

However, lately writing with CopyPaste has been riddled with frustration. The problem, the program has been updated several times, but although I’m sure Peter Hoerster, who codes the program, is fine tuning it for both Leopard and Snow Leopard, the latest two incarnations of Mac OS X, the program has been playing a disappearing game in Tiger, the OS X that came with my iMac, and which I’m still using. And not once in awhile did it disappear, but again and again as I would be using it to write my blog.

Clicking on its icon in the dock would bring it back, no problem, but it stretched the hell out of your patience as it would take two to three minutes to make its comeback. And before you turned around it was gone again.

A couple of weeks ago my son Joel sent me an earlier version of CopyPaste, which is the version he uses. Of course I had to do over my html clip archive, this ancient version wasn’t about to recognize the clip archive I had made with my newer version. I played around with that ancient version for several hours, but finally threw in the towel when I could not get the early version to recognize that I had registered the newer version. And if I couldn’t register that earlier version my carefully crafted clip archive would disappear at the next restart.

To make a long story interminable, I went back to my disappearing C/P baby, dragging it off of my extra drive, and putting it back in my app. folder. I emailed Julian, who is Hoerster’s stateside rep, and he evidently sent my complaint on to Peter. Well, two weeks have passed by, and I got an email from Julian telling me Peter had done a new, beta version of CopyPaste, but one which should be more stable.

I downloaded and unzipped the beta version, removed my present copy, parking it on my backup disk, then I put this new version in my app. folder, and an alias of it in the dock. I pretty well forgot about it until a night later, when I spent three hours writing on my blog. And miracle upon miracles, not once during this three hour period did the app disappear.

What a lovely evening it has been, and can we dare believe that like the Gulf of Mexico, which BP has evidently quit fouling, the new improved CopyPaste is no longer the delicate, disappearing flower it once was, and Julian cared enough to think of me after Peter came up with his new version. And bless them both, the new version seems to be as stable as Plymouth Rock.

Moral, if you use a Mac, both iKey and CopyPaste will greatly enhance your computing experience. I don’t know what I would do if I had to be without either one.

And this goes double in the case of CopyPaste which used to play that most frustrating game of “see me now, see me not,” but now stays in position just like the faithful assistant it had been programmed to be.

Thanks Peter, and Julian, for taking such good care of one of your faithful users. You made our day, week, month! §

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And so another weakly edition of the Little Eddy Blog spins out of control just before running off the rails. Nothing new to report on my health horizon, my next appointment with Dr. Rakkhit is August 20, and I’ll report anything he suggests in that week’s blog.

Meantime, with that tooth under control I’m feeling reasonably good these days. I am interested in what Dr. Rakkhit chooses to treat my condition, since I don’t have cml I don’t have to worry about that $3,000 a month Gleevec. But surely there’s something that will tone down my white corpuscles. I mean, take a rest fellas.

Thanks to the Washington Post as usual for our photographs. How ironic is it that LIFE Magazine's Hiroshima and Nagasaki photographs finally see the light of publication 65 years after the fact.

At any rate, we’ll be back again next week with a brand new blog which we will upload to Google on Saturday morning along with my coffee. Until then, bye bye, and don’t take any wooden Republicans.

The Real Little Eddy •