Vol. 4 No. 6

January, 2005




iTOONS on The Golden Egg and China

FeedBackLoop: Coup de Jour

THE REAL NEWS * * * * *





In 1975, Jack Nicholson starred in the movie adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Nicholson portrayed Randle McMurphy, a renegade patient who tries to take over the asylum, literally. He is at constant odds with Nurse Ratched. But in the end, Nicholson's character gets zapped into submission by a series of electro-shock treatments; standard protocol for the unmanageable mental patient. The system wins out and turns a rowdy individual into a transvegetable state. Harmony. Fade to Black.

Today's cellphone users (or abusers) are the rowdy equivalent. They appear to try to take over all aspects of public and private space. The annoyance factor is growing. The discontent over inappropriate cell phone use is creating new regulations. This in turn creates even a greater conflict. A classic test of wills.

When there are two competing interests, politicians move in to grab a headline. Just like the overboard regulation of smokers in public places like offices and restaurants has led to a worse situation of concrete pigeons (workers who crowd around the building's front door to smoke) blocking the entry, the cell phone mania has led to regulations. City councils want to ban cell phone use in theaters, hospitals, trains or buses. The fancy ones with the bad ringing songs are like teachers raking nails on a chalkboard at times. But how far will it go?

Like tobacco, the public servants telecom tax the crap out of your communication connections. It is the easy hidden tax. It just shows up on your telephone and cable bill. And it is growing. So in essence, the cash strapped governments are regulating restrictions on cell phone use even though they want more usage in order to receive more tax dollars. In the current American political policy scene, illogic rules. But there is a prohibition movement beginning to grow in reaction to nonstop intrusion of cellphone use in inappropriate places.

Cell phones must have the connotation of rebellion like a teen riding a motorcycle against his parents wishes in the 1950s. No longer tethered to the household's land-line, the cell phone offers freedom from parental control. But the shocking observation is that pre-employment teens are running around with $500 phones attached to their ear for hours at a time. How can they afford the phone, let alone the charges? Their parents must have indulged them into full rotten spoilage.

The carry-over is simple after that point. It is the child's “hey look at me!” syndrome. When the media impression of fashion hooks up with the American lust for gadgets, money is no object to direct attention to one's self. Here lies the big problem. The turnover of new features attached to cellphones has created a new consumer of disposal functional utility for the sake of coolness.

Cellphones are everywhere. In the middle of a church service, people are on their cellphones. In the middle of the grocery store aisle, a woman is reaching for a box with one hand, and talking on her phone to the homestead asking what she should buy (while her cart is careening down the aisle.) Now, how difficult is it to write down a simple shopping list? Have people forgot how to write? Grocery shopping is really a matter of habit anyway. So why be on the cell during your entire shop cycle? If you can't buy basic foodstuffs without a phone call, then the Darwin principle should kick in and you should starve to death in the parking lot.

The main problem is that there is no courtesy manual given with each cellphone. Once someone has attained the status symbol, it is his or her predetermined belief that they have a right to use it anytime and anywhere. Tell that to a circuit court judge who has confiscated an offending ring and tossing you into a jail cell for contempt of court for interrupting his proceedings. Or, how can anyone justify taking a cellphone call in the midst of a funeral? Excuse me, I have an important call when you are supposed to be there to give your final respects?! Common sense appears to be lost when the plastic touches the outer ear.

There is a danger to the obsessive cell phone use. In the early morning rush, who has not seen a car barrel past with a person with a cup of coffee in one hand, a cell in another? Then there are the weaving wonders, the people on the phone who like to talk with their hands so they steer over the center line constantly into on-coming traffic. No wonder the first morning's traffic reports sound like a demolition derby recap.

On December 20, 2004, Reuters reported that in Europe a study of radio waves from mobile phones appears to harm body cells and alter individual DNA in laboratory conditions. The preliminary study did not conclude that cellphones are a health risk but concluded that it needed more research on the effects of electromagnetic radiation. The human brain is a complex series of neuroelectric receptors which no one fully understands. But medical science has a vast clinical data base of the electric-shock therapy era of controlling mental patients. Enough jolts, a person turns calm. Maybe the electromagnetic impulses over time bulk erase the area of the brain where common sense is stored. That would probably explain the current cuckoo's nest debate on cellphone use.


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Five years with the same home computer system is enough time to fill the hard drive, have more frequent freeze-ups, and become a few software generations behind the Times.

I suspect your techno travel has stalled. But not as bad as my new iMac. First, I was shocked, SHOCKED, to find it was made in Shanghai. (There are tech embargo treaties with certain red countries). Corporations have gotten into trouble in the last decade for sending highly specialized technology (computer navigation, satellite guidance, rocket propulsion) to China. But Apple's technology was touted as a supercomputer in a box. So instead of exporting banned cutting edge science, it is now being manufactured in the countries where we did not want them to learn our science trade secrets. Logic or national security must have fallen into a sinkhole.

Second, I got the shipping details that it had left China on 12/21. It arrived in Anchorage, AK on 9:06 a.m. on December 22. Hooray! It has made it to American free shores. Hold the champagne corks, fellow tech-heads. However, there apparently was a "missort" at the hub.

The shipping details state that A PROCESSING ERROR AT DESTINATION CAUSED THIS DELAY; THE PACKAGE WAS MISSORTED AT THE HUB. IT HAS BEEN REROUTED TO THE CORRECT DESTINATION SITE. The next line on the ship manifest is an EXPORT scan to Shanghai! My iMac apparently is heading BACK to Shanghai!!! This now has the plotline of a 1960s spy-comedy. With the “missort” by those drunken longshoremen in Alaska, the highly advanced technology machine is being back to CHINA. China, which should have technology export restraints of American high tech industrial-military advantages. In a few days, I could see the new government intelligence community streaking their pants with the news that a supercomputer was shipped into mainland China. "Me no likey Clinton!!!" is what I'll yell when the FBI crashes down my front door.

The shipper continues to flag the tracking number with Status Exception. A new heavy metal band, perhaps? I think the delivery carriers throw that tag up when the crews get bored and start playing the installed games on the random computer shipment. Status Exception. What does that mean? Where is the machine, man??

The last word on the runaway China doll, my new iMac. The shipping track says: STATUS: EXCEPTION. Now that sounds really really really really really bad.

Rocky, our tech guru sent me this attachment on the long lost roundabout of my new computer.

The high surf zone of Earth's current misery index.

A few days later I inquire as to the status of my long lost friend. Further inquiry into shipping details finds my iMac is being held prisoner!!!!!! Yes, embargoed!!!!! (That is what the details state: Embargoed.) Where??? In that godforsaken backward third world mushroom tank ...............................................................................................Louisville, Kentucky.

Kentucky? How in the hell did the machine suddenly appear in Louisville? The midsouth was being paralyzed by a blizzard on that day. The shipper flags the order with an ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS for shipment delay. I see the newscast that evening to find that Louisville is a snow-locked wasteland with several feet of snow and cold. Transportation is at a stand still. It may take days to dig out the local populous.

Then the story gets weird.

Get on your sci-fi teletransport hat on Mr. Scott, and explain this: on December 24, at 11 a.m., the iMac is embargoed, trapped and frozen in place by weather in Louisville. But then, at 11:26 a.m., a mere twenty-six minutes later, the iMac is allegedly now in CHICAGO!!! Now, is UPS just jacking my chain, or have they outsourced the last minute delivery's to Santa's Reindeer Delivery service. This is more likely an episode from Futurama.

So on Christmas Eve, the package is about 30 miles from its final destination, me. But it does not arrive that day. Saturday, the world is closed. Monday? No. The shipper thinks I am on vacation (when I am not). Tuesday? Same detail message. Now I have the worry that the package will be tossed into the unable to deliver bin at the sort facility and brutalized with a RETURN TO SENDER stamp. Meaning, of course, that the box will begin its journey back to China . . . again!

So I finally receive my new iMac on Thursday! Almost a week has past since the package arrived in the confines of the territorial United States. It was shipped faster from China across the Pacific than it was to get from Louisville to suburban Chicago.



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Four years of going overboard by starting from internet ground zero with three separate web sites has lead to the ultimate preliminary update. In August, 2001, I began this site with the purpose is to create a personal ejournal of net observations and essays on this new electronic printing revolution, where individuals are empowered with the tools to make their ideas well known in the public space. I tried to take a neo-journalistic view of how the Internet is changing perceptions, realities, and judgments. “Examine the Net Way of Life” continues to be the mission statement.

During the early Internet frenzy, napkin idea millionaires were making a killing financially by having as little as 1,000 hits a day. People watched their web counters like they were roulette wheels. Times have changed and the mania for counting raw bytes has ebbed to a management tool. You need to review the stats once and a while to see if you still have an audience, or whether you are a sheriff in a ghost town.

It is interesting to note that each, inc. website has its visitor cycles. At times, it is seasonal; at times it is clearly content driven.

Because of split personality and no staff, we have three websites that were created approximately at the same time, but launched in theoretical progression.

cyberbarf was the first to launch because it was originally adapted as a monthly cyberzine. It continues as a monthly zine because I do not have the time at present to do anything more. In its web statistics, cyberbarf has had 84,445 hits including 17,009 unique visitors. Last week of December it averaged 135 unique visitors.

The Real News site was launched shortly thereafter. The Real News was the movement of a early DTP zine into the realm of cyberspace because my friends kept on demanding more and more issues, etc. In its web statistics to date, ( has had 447,821 hits including 77,120 unique visitors. Last week of December it averaged 379 unique visitors after peaking during the election cycle at more than 1000 visitors a week. The Real News site offers commentary, satire, editorial cartoons, essays and blog-like material updated several times a week.

The final site to be launched was, the flagship name of the this small corporate intellectual property umbrella. was to house the art, storytelling, comics and animation aspirations. In its last web stat report, has 81,445 hits including 55,789 unique visitors to the Street Life of the Mind graphic user interface.

All of the growth in viewership/readership/visitors has been organic. There has been no advertising, banner ad-swapping or push traffic exchange programs. Just our little street corner newspaper stand quality that happens to be open 24/7 with original content provided regularly at the obscenely reasonable charges. (Free).


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