g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Sunday, July 7, 2002
17:56 - Moooom, make the freaky Muslims go away

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From the list that has so far brought me (quite without my asking) hand-wringing discussions of whether Muslims are allowed to dissect frogs or cook with wine, or whether non-Muslim women are any better than slave harlots, today we have this following-- er-- article.

I understand that this is aimed for Muslim readers, and that there's probably plenty more of the same on any Muslim website one might care to mention. But still: this came into my mailbox, and I think everybody has a right to experience the love and joy the way I have.

I don't write this stuff, I just repost it with added bold emphasis.

STRUGGLE WITH THE JEWS

Our Struggle with the Jews is a Struggle for Existence, not a Struggle for Land

Author:
Al-Asaalah Magazine Editorial Staff
Source: Al-Asaalah Magazine, Issue 30 (pg. 5-6)
Translator: abu maryam
Produced by: al-manhaj.com

The enemies of Islaam and the ignorant people that follow them are trying to portray the reality of the struggle against the Jews as a struggle for land and borders, and as a problem of refugees and water ports. And they make it seem as if it is possible to end this struggle with peaceful coexistence and by compensating the refugees, rectifying their condition of living, dispersing them throughout the land and establishing a weak petty secular state, which will live under the Zionist power and which will serve as a shield for the Zionist state (against their surrounding enemies). But all of these people don’t realize that our struggle with the Jews goes way back, ever since the first Islamic state was established in Madeenah with Muhammad, the Messenger sent to all of mankind, as its leader. Allaah has related to us in the Qur’aan, the reality of the Jews’ malice and hatred for the ummah of Islaam and Tawheed, as he says: “You will surely find that the people with the most enmity towards the believers are the Jews and the polytheists.” [Surah Al-Maa’idah: 82]


So see how Allaah has placed the Jews before the polytheists in their hatred and enmity (towards the Muslims). Even though they are united in their disbelief, they differ (from others) in their (immense) hatred towards the ummah of Muhammad, as Allaah says: “The Jews and the Christians will never be pleased with you until you follow their religion (way).” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 120]

And ever since the first hour in which the Muslims let the beautiful fragrance of Islaam flow through it (Madeenah), the Jews were there showing enmity to the Muslims and their Prophet. So our Prophet, Muhammad, was not safe from the harm of the Jews amongst their ranks. They tried to kill him three times. One time, they tried to kill him by putting a heavy rock on his head. Another time was when they placed poison in the forearm of a goat (for him to eat). And a third case was when the Jewish boy, Lubaid bin al-A’asam, may Allaah’s curse be on him, put a magic spell on him.

And lo, there are the Americans, supplying the Jews with the most ferocious and harmful weapons of destruction, so that they can kill the Muslim children, women and elderly people of Palestine. And they preoccupied the world with their American elections for the purpose of drawing attention away from the Jewish massacre and butchering of the Muslim people of Palestine.

And lo! There are the British, who supply the Jews with loud and explosive ammunition, which when used result in horrific deaths and everlasting handicapping for the youth of Palestine. So this ummah (nation of Palestinians) are open prey - whether young or old, infant or woman – in the hands of the Jews and their supporters.

And lo! There are the supporters of the Jews, who preoccupy the ummah and draw their attention away from the casualties suffered by the Muslim people of Palestine. And they make the people blind to the crimes committed by the Jews by broadcasting the Olympics and other worthless programs, which only make the ummah numb and put it to sleep!

Don’t the Muslims know that our struggle against the Jews is a struggle of Creed and a struggle of Religious livelihood? Don’t they realize that it is a struggle of culture, a struggle to remain in existence, a struggle of identification? Wasn’t it the Jews who set fire to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsaa? Weren’t they the ones who initiated archeological excavations under it, (ruining its foundation), so that afterward it can crumble on its own?? Weren’t they the ones who killed Muslims while they were prostrating in the month of Ramadaan in Masjid Al-Khaleel?!? Did they not cut open the stomachs of pregnant women, murder babies and set fire to the pastures and the farmlands!? Wasn’t it the Jews who transformed the masjids of Palestine into bars of alcohol and gambling?! Did they not turn them into compounds for animals and garbage dumps?!?

Then after all of this, it is said: “Our struggle against the Jews is a struggle for land and a border dispute!!” And the desired solution is to establish a petty Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, so that the followers of the three monotheistic – or so they claim - faiths can live in it. Are these people ignorant of the fact that the only Religion acceptable in the sight of Allaah is Islaam? Or are they ignorant of the fact that Ibraheem is free and absolved from the polytheism and idolatry the Jews and Christians are upon. “Ibraaheem was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but rather he was Haneef (worshipping Allaah alone), a Muslim. And he was not from the polytheists.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 67]

Indeed, the only solution, which the Jews will understand, is Jihaad – done with its proper conditions – to raise high the Word of Allaah. The Jews do not want peace, rather they only want that this ummah surrender and submit itself to them, and that it bow and debase itself to them. And they want that it wipe out the word Jihaad from its vocabulary! They want them to become slaves, employees and laborers for them, having the right to beat them with their shoes and lash them with their whips whenever they feel like it!

Our real struggle with the Jews will not end by setting up a withered state that doesn’t raise the banner of Islaam nor establishes the Laws of Allaah. How can it come to an end when the Muslim recites in his prayer seventeen times - day and night – “And do not make us from those who gained Your Anger nor from those who went astray.” [Surah Al-Faatihah: 7]

Those who “gained Your Anger” are the Jews and those who “went astray” are the Christians, according to the unanimous agreement of the Tafseer scholars, and this is so until the Day of Judgement.


So the decisive battle in which the Jews will come to an end will most assuredly come to pass – it is inevitable. It will be a battle of Faith and a battle of servitude to Allaah. The Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “You will indeed fight against the Jews and you will kill them to the point where the rock and the tree will say: ‘O Muslim! O ‘Abdullaah (slave of Allaah)! There is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.’ Except for al-Gharqad for it is from the trees of the Jews.”

This is a true promise from the one who doesn’t speak from his own desire (Prophet Muhammad), which confirms the true nature of our struggle against the Jews, unlike what the misguided and misguiding media is portraying.

www.al-manhaj.com

My, my. It's fully annotated with citations from the Koran and everything. That means it must be true.

That's what I find so tragically endearing about all this, in the way that one might see a kid weeping bitterly over the death of his favorite Pokémon, or some Net junkie committing suicide over some in-game tragedy in Everquest. Within the context of an alternate reality, events which may or may not have ever happened are accepted as gospel historical fact, and the fact that the rest of the world doesn't accept such claims as fact is irrelevant-- it just means the rest of the world is insane or demonic. They just don't understaaaaand! I mean, look at some of these statements: Are these people ignorant of the fact that the only Religion acceptable in the sight of Allaah is Islaam? What, are we some kinda idiots? What's wrong with us? How can we be so blind?

They put a heavy rock on our hero's head! Now we must kill them all! Has there ever been anything so infantile?

I wonder if these people are even capable of understanding allegorical satire, like the "Frodo Baggins Indicted for War Crimes" article at Cold Fury?

As I've said before, there are only two possible lessons we can learn from stuff like this:
  • Islam is right, the Koran is the verbatim Word of Allah, and the entire world must submit to Sharia Law and destroy the Jews for their Koranic crimes, or
  • Believing the words of a book written centuries ago by superstitious tribes of nomads, and accepting those stories as anything but allegorical fables from which to gain guidance for daily personal conduct, is the height of human gullibility and weakness of mind-- and is only going to result in more 9/11s as time goes on.

Those are the only two choices. Really. That's it.

15:51 - I want one.
http://www.vw.com/jetta/index.htm

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So the Jetta GLI is out... they've got the 200+hp VR6 engine in it now (guess that's the 24v one), and a 6-speed. For about the same price I paid for my GLS three years ago.

No word, really, on whether it's the 4Motion version-- if not, that's a lot of power to put into a front-drive car. But damn, that's certainly tempting. And my current car's almost paid off, too.

Meanwhile, the Passat now has the long-talked-about W8 engine, though it won't be till next year that it gets its own 6-speed and Lance trades up to it. The current styling cues are kind of annoying, but VW is focusing on competing with the Maximas of the world, and that appears to be their top priority right now over memorable styling.

We certainly seem to be in an age of power and sexiness over efficiency, don't we? ...But then again, there's the Prius and Insight, both of which are selling amazingly well around here. Maybe the entire auto industry is just in a really good age, where they're making great strides all across the board.

... Unless you're BMW. Putting the abominable iDrive into everything, and where the hell did they scrape up the idiots responsible for the current styling on new models? The 7-series is a grisly mess, the 1-series concept is a clumsy little bathtub with irritating tweaky sharp edges, and the Z4-- while the best of the recent offerings-- is hardly what I'd call "pretty". When its biggest design feature is the so-called "flame surface" that reflects light as though it's on fire, I weep for the future of what was shaping up to be one of the best-looking lines of cars ever seen. I'm thinking the current 3-series is going to be their high-water mark for a while yet.

No, I think the style crown is still on VW's head, Passat notwithstanding. And if I trade up, it'll be to another Jetta.

God, I love that car.

15:33 - What a Place to Live

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I was on my way to pick up some lunch, and noticed that not only were the mountains in front of me as clear as day, but so were the ones off to my left-- northward into the East Bay-- and so were the ones behind me, on the western side above Cupertino. So I went on past Taco Bell and up Quimby Road.

Once again, I wish my camera weren't in the shop. The picture at right is from several months ago, and it doesn't do today's view justice at all.

It was perfectly clear, with visibility for a hundred miles; I could not only see Mt. Tamalpais in the North Bay, but I could see the fog at its base and pick out individual buildings in downtown San Francisco.

That's what's so nice about summer around here. Whereas in LA, summer is the smoggiest time, and only briefly during the winter are the mountain ridges crisply visible-- in Silicon Valley, May and October, for some reason, are the only really hot months; in between, it's cool and breezy, and the air clears itself out for weekend views, so I can go up Quimby Road or into the Santa Cruz Mountains on a lazy morning and stand there taking pictures or just staring. It's about as comfortable as though I'm standing under an air-conditioner vent all day; I could stand out there all day long if I want to.

Garrison Keillor on the radio, bicyclists nodding and waving as they labor their way up the slope, distant cars and planes speckling the landscape... it reminds one that this place once was called the Valley of Heart's Delight. Must have been quite a sight, when people could look across it from this same location, before there was anything but a few scattered little towns here and there, or even when it was full of orchards.

... Bah, I'm rambling. But I tend to do that when it's a clear day.
Saturday, July 6, 2002
16:06 - The Middle-Earth Criminal Court
http://www.coldfury.com/Entries/00000163.html

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If there was ever a Cold Fury article that deserved linking to, purely on the merit of its smartness of ass, it's this one.

This is a war of good-vs-evil, whether some countries want to admit it or not. The UN and related bodies are beginning to look to me like 13-year-old girls who think that the can approach and enter a tiger cage with impunity, if they just hold out their hands so the tiger can sniff. Then they'll turn all tame, and they can scratch their cheeks and bat around balls of yarn and play with string and stuff. Right?

If they don't watch out, they're going to end up tiger chow. And I'm going to laugh.

16:00 - It is a religion
http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,53596,00.html

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Here's a Wired article about how the mindset among Mac people really does exhibit the same hallmarks of a religion-- especially in the sense that people stick with it not because the computers are better or help them in their daily lives better than PCs do, but because they want to support Apple.

For the same reason, Levine also buys quite a lot of shareware. "I don't always need it," he said. "I just want to support the author. It's just worth supporting."

Like all Apple collectors, Levine identifies strongly with Mac culture; the T-shirts and luggage tags broadcast his association.

"It's more than just a computer, it's a community," he said. "For many Mac people, I think it has a religious feeling to it. For a lot of people who are not comfortable with religion, it provides a community and a common heritage. I think Mac users have a certain common way of thinking, a way of doing things, a certain mindset.

"People say they are a Buddhist or a Catholic," he added. "We say we're Mac users, and that means we have similar values."

And naturally, that tends to blind one to the reason why one is doing it. To a Buddhist or a Catholic, it usually doesn't appear an option to consider being part of an opposing group, or to not support the group of which you're a part. And to people outside the group, the faithful often appear ridiculous.

For Apple to bridge the gap and appeal to new customers, it's necessary to use whatever tactics work for religion, to demystify it and make it seem less threatening and more sensible. It's a tough bind they're in... they have to acknowledge the fact that the Macolytes exist and aren't going away, so it's not going to stop looking like a cult until it gets a lot bigger and less vociferous. But they also have to try to present their products as simply another entry into the market, a competitor in a tough playing field with certain advantages that are worth selling-- in other words, denying the cultish nature of the Mac.

The "Switch" ads try to address the latter, showing that the Mac is simply a better choice... but unfortunately, because they're presented by individual Real People up against a white background, they come across as cultists. The white color even might suggest the white shirts of door-to-door religion peddlers. So maybe that's the blunder.

Who could have predicted it, though? And how does one reason one's way out of this mess? Other than doggedly pressing on, as we always have, trying to explain futilely to people that Apple didn't steal the GUI from Xerox PARC, that Macs can in fact be networked, and that not all Mac people are computer-illiterate banner-ad-clicking morons?

That's what we've been doing. Fat lot of good it's done us.
Friday, July 5, 2002
20:26 - Now that's reasoning...

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Okay, so maybe this Islamic mailing list will turn out to be fairly amusing after all.

Today I got a message that consisted of two pictures of groups of Muslim women, one of which showed them being shoved or herded by Turkish police, and the other of which showed them weeping. The heading was "Jewish ally Turkey attacks women in Hijab". There was no other text to the story.

Totally laying aside for now the spin-- namely, that whatever happened here between the Turkish police and the Muslim women who were wearing the traditional hijab (which has apparently been banned in Turkey), it's obviously more significant that Turkey is a state that sympathizes with Israel than that they are a Muslim state. We can't be publishing headlines showing that Muslims are persecuting Muslims, can we? Nooo, it must be because they're "Jewish allies". But that's not even what I wanted to point out.

What I wanted to mention was the signature on the post. It read as follows:

"Why do you fear the word terrorist?... If a terrorist is one who struggles in the way of Allah, than we are terrorists." Sheikh Umar'Abd Ar-Rahman { statement made by the former leader of Jamiyya tul Islamiyya (Egypt), during his interragation of the WTO bombing back in 1995}

Brilliant, innit? I love it. Now, I don't know the circumstances of the origin of this quote (though I daresay the question Ar-Rahman was asked was something to the effect of "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of any terrorist organization?"); but its subtext, and indeed its text, are just a grand specimen of weaselry. I would imagine Muslims aren't allowed to lie before Allah, or something, so this was his way of saying yes. "Am I a terrorist? Well, if you're asking whether I'm a Muslim, because obviously you Americans equate terrorist with Muslim, then yes, that's what I am."

Except, of course, that's clearly not what he was being asked. And so what's come out of his mouth is startlingly symptomatic of the mindset that so many Muslim extremists seem to embrace: that our concept of terrorist is a quaint and provincial one, something that has no meaning for Muslims-- only for Westerners. Only we would be so petty and secular as to label with a special derogatory term those who give their own lives for the cause of destroying enemy civilians. Because that, after all, is just part of jihad. Those stupid Americans just don't understand that.

This quote is somebody's signature, for crying-out-loud. It's inspirational to somebody. Somebody reads this sentence and gains strength and resolve from it.

Can we declare this religion to be officially hepped-up on goofballs yet?
Thursday, July 4, 2002
22:46 - Just a few thoughts

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This seems as good a time as any to quote some lines from Preacher:

I like this country, Jesse. I like baseball and whiskey and Mom's apple pie-- not my mom's apple pie, but you know what I mean-- and the Stars and Stripes, and John Wayne, and fireworks on the Fourth of July.

And I like the myth of the place. The myth of America: that simple, honest men, born of her great plains and woods and skies have made a nation of her, and will prove worthy of her when the time is right.

Under harsh light it is false. But a good myth to live up to, all the same.

These words, penned by English writer Garth Ennis-- who had been raised on Westerns starring John Wayne and Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood-- and spoken through the character of Gunther Hahn, a German expatriate who had once murdered civilians as part of a Nazi police battalion, but had come to live in Texas in the hope that he would be given a second chance by the country whose ideals really spoke to him-- are worth reviewing in these times. America isn't perfect; hell, it's far from it. We are, after all, a nation consisting of humans. But the mistakes we make are the mistakes anyone makes. There are evil people in every country, but this is one place where that kind of evil has never taken root to a degree where it pervades the lives of people who choose to live apart from it. We believe in small and simple things: individual choice, most notably. The choice to live however we choose, as long as it doesn't adversely affect the people around us. We believe in having fun, making money, and enjoying the fruits of our honest labors free of guilt, and we believe very strongly in giving a hand-up to anybody who thinks the same way we do. We know we're right, after all, and while we're not going to go out of our way to convince others of it, we'll give endlessly to those who are willing to make the same sacrifices we've made in pursuit of the same goals.

We're not perfect, and indeed there are a lot of things wrong with this country. So we feel pangs of guilt for crowing about our country's success and happiness and ideals. We're also hardly what anybody can call "embattled"-- after all, we've only really suffered the one major attack, and it was the better part of a year ago already; and even at that, it was perpetrated by a bunch of rag-tag schemers who got lucky, not by some omnipotent Matrix who can rain death on us at will. We have neither sympathy nor adoration flowing our way from the rest of the world, and so we tend to feel as though we don't have the right to feel proud of our country. Certainly we look at countries like, say, Germany-- where flying the flag is thought of as something only Nazis would do-- and our guilt forces us to think that we'd better follow suit. We take a lot of heat for acting "too American" and for exporting our culture to where it's not welcome.

But today-- bullshit, I say. We've seen the future; really, we saw it over 200 years ago, and today the vision is pretty much the same. We know we're right. We know we have the moral high ground.

Because deeds trump words-- and while some nations have to tell everybody of how moral and Chosen and righteous they are, and why they're the rightful inheritors of the stewardship of the planet... well, we're the ones who don't have to tell everybody that. We can show it. One has only to look.

And you know-- we're not so bad, really. Especially compared to the alternative.

In 1776, the vision was about baseball and whiskey and Mom's apple pie-- well, the conteporary equivalents, anyway. And today, what do we dream about? The same things, more or less. The concepts are the same. And over 200 years of chasing those concepts have made them into more than goals and dreams: they're our way of life. They're what we have as well as what we want. And that, friends, is called success.

It's all the proof Hahn needed; and it's more than enough for me to spend at least this one evening-- having just come down from the top of the hill after watching all of Silicon Valley ablaze with fireworks for over an hour, the sound of rolling thunder across the valley a sound of reassurance and celebration rather than of fear, and listening to Hindu and Sikh and Mexican and Vietnamese and Muslim and Thai families all up and down my neighborhood setting off illegal firecrackers that at this very moment are continuing to boom and crackle outside my window-- sitting back and enjoying it for its own sake. It's all the proof I need, too.

The nations that hate us do so because of jealousy. And that's nothing for us to be ashamed of. We are under no obligation to meet them halfway or come down to their level. They want to be jealous, that's their problem. But we don't need to lose a wink of sleep over it; it's their choice. We're forging ahead. If they don't want to come along, then they can get out of the way.

I need not elucidate what happens if they don't.

But those who do, if they're willing to see it as such, will have done the right thing. In every sense of the term.

19:29 - Celebrate the independence of your country by blowing up a small part of it!

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Well, four hours to go-- and so far all we've had is a shootout at LAX and a small plane crash in San Dimas. And only the former seems to have a possibility of being connected with terrorism.

Then there's yesterday's stupefying arrest of Saddam Hussein's stepson on a visa violation, here to take aviation classes at the same school that taught the 9/11 hijackers.

Then there's the Central African Republic plane crash, which looks like an accident, and a Gaza car bomb, the latest in a series.

C'mon, you bastards. Is that all you've got? C'moooon.

13:17 - Freedom Is...
http://seanbaby.com/personal/fireworks.htm

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... People like Seanbaby being allowed to get away with the things he does in this article, and then write a four-page article will full photographic documentation describing the aftermath, and publish it for us to see.



12 hours down, and still nothing blown up that we didn't intend.

12:56 - Hooray for the USA
http://www.tostitos.com/news/

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Further to Lileks' 4th of July Bleat, I must offer this further witness to the glory of the land we call home:

Tostitos SCOOPS.

Now through a breakthrough snack innovation, the TOSTITOS® brand introduces new TOSTITOS® SCOOPS!™ Tortilla Chips. TOSTITOS® SCOOPS!™ Tortilla Chips are the dip lover's chip. The bite size chip's unique shape holds more dip to deliver more flavor and crunch with every bite.



Meanwhile, that Islamic mailing list I got subscribed to (without any action on my part) is now full of people asking each other whether they're allowed to dissect rats or cook with wine. "How would you like it if I urinated on your food before cooking it, and then told you it had all been burned away?"

Happy 4th, everyone.

11:54 - "Switch" Parodies
http://www.macedition.com/partingshot/partingshot_20020628.jpg

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It's really hard to tell how well the "Switch" ads are going over. Among the loud voices on the Net, the impression is that the ads are annoying and insulting, and decrease people's opinion of Apple and their likelihood of buying a Mac. But on a grass-roots scale, people at work and people I casually meet tell me that the ads have in fact been eye-opening, and that now they're considering making their next computer a Mac.

So which is the bigger group?

I'm tempted to think that there's a positive sign in the parodies. Like the picture above. This is good parody. This is the kind of satire that takes off from the substrate and makes your brain warp itself, unlike that site I linked to a while back that emulated the entire Switch site in look and feel while consisting of ill-informed, outdated yammerings and a spoof version of the movies that had been redone crappily in Windows Media format, just to add insult to insult.

But now we're seeing more of the funny kind-- and I daresay the picture shown here isn't necessarily by Mac people. The spoofs at macboy.com are, but they're also quite funny and worth a look.

I don't know where Apple plans to take the Switch campaign next-- I've heard that the next round is supposed to feature a few actual celebrities in the mix. They do need to do something... this experiment is volatile, and it needs some adjustment and fine-tuning. I hope they know what they're doing.




UPDATE: Turns out that "Lacrimosa" from above is a "Parting Shot" published by the guys at MacEdition ... it had been sent to me as the bare image URL, and being scatterbrained as I tend to be on non-work-days, I didn't bother following it up. But I wrote a whole post about it anyway.

So as it turns out, the funny Switch parodies are coming from Mac people, almost exclusively, at least so far. So if anything remains of my point, I suppose it's that the trend is toward funny parody and away from the really vicious stuff... which I'll take any day.


Wednesday, July 3, 2002
22:01 - Well, God damn...
http://robots.cnn.com/2002/US/07/03/hussein.stepson/index.html

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How frickin' stupid are these people?

18:37 - Minority Report Report

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Chris and I saw Minority Report last night, and I must say it's every bit as good as everyone has said. It's a lavish and surprising storyline with lots of very satisfying twists, the cinematography is somehow both rich and gritty, the casting and characterization is outstanding (the woman in the greenhouse merits buying the DVD all on her own), and the tech design is truly something to behold. I so dearly love it when a movie about The Future (2054 in this case, I believe) doesn't look entirely alien-- you know, a setting that looks about as odd to us as today's world would look to people in 1950. Yes, the infrastructure is somewhat different, there's a lot more technology in people's pockets and on people's desks-- but it's still all cars and roads and ice-cream cones. Likewise, in MR, the cars are ingeniously designed to fit into a chaotic but well-organized commuter structure, and they've got those transparent computer screens that moviemakers are so fond of-- sitting right alongside spray-bottles and lawn sprinklers and kids' bicycles and playground equipment that could just as easily have been bought in Wal-Mart today. That kitchen timer that the eye surgeon uses (another brilliant character, by the way) is styled like a timer from the 1970s, but with a luminous and interactive dial. Instead of the "future of the past" that the Rocket Age gave us (think Jetsons), here we have a future with retro. I love it.

Likewise, the virtual interface that the cops use to sort through the imagery they're fed is a brilliant piece of iconic humans-interacting-with-machines the like of which I haven't seen since Fritz Lang's Metropolis; it's the same kind of system of gestures, firm and forceful-- something of a three-way cross between Tae Kwon Do, cyborg-like mechanical movements, and the nuanced touch of a symphony orchestra conductor. (The classical music overlaying the scenes where Tom Cruise conjures up those images is just as effective as the warm chamber jazz in Cowboy Bebop-- which is to say, very much so.)

And there's so much unexpected humor in the movie. The way the quarrelling couple interacts with the spiders, the cereal box with the moving digital-ink logos-- the script smirks at you from beginning to end, not letting up even when the action gets heaviest. It's hard to suppress the giggles when Cruise tries to pull his old eyeballs out of a bag to show to the retina-scanners, and they roll down a slope and into a drain grating like a couple of prized aggies.

But...


There's one problem with this movie, without which it would be drop-dead brilliant. (This is actually Chris' observation, but I'm sure he won't mind me broadcasting it-- after all, he doesn't have a blog; he just fact-checks mine's ass.) It's the last two minutes. The movie gets Spielberged. Right up to the last gunshot, the plot careens and power-glides, jerking the audience expertly back and forth... but then, right after that last shot, you'd better just stand up and walk out of the theater and not look back. Because everything gets tied up with a neat little warm and happy epilogue that feels entirely out of place. It's like hearing "And they lived happily ever after" at the end of The Terminator. As the credits rolled, Chris sat in his seat shouting at the screen: NOOOOOO! YOU BASTAAAARD! DAMN YOUUUUU!



...Incidentally, am I the only one who noticed that this movie and Harry Potter seemed to be cut from the same cloth? They both have funky tendril-vines that grab for you, and they both are packed full of pictures that move-- newspapers, cereal boxes, trading cards, wall ads, paintings. It's like Harry Potter is really just the future-- you know, because the technology in Minority Report is sufficiently advanced that we can't distinguish it from magic.

... Okay, maybe I should just shut up before I dig myself in waaay too deep.

18:00 - Tomorrow

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The fireworks have already started going off. I heard and saw a lot of them last night. That's two full days early. I can't remember that ever happening before.

What do I think is going to happen tomorrow? I don't know. I suspect that there will be some kind of major attack attempted, but it will be foiled; and we probably won't find out about it until a month or so later.

Myself? I'll probably be staying home, maybe taking a ride through some backroads. If everything's still standing when I get back, I expect I'll feel pretty darn good.

17:56 - We'll show them what freely held elections are all about...
http://talg.blogspot.com/2002_06_30_talg_archive.html#78505990

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From Tal G:

Some other [Palestinian] demonstrators explained what the "right to decide" means:

"Any collaborator who would represent himself an alternative to [Arafat] will be executed in the public square," said the message, which echoed through the streets as armed men fired in the air.

See, there's the rub. "Peace negotiations" are a concept that depends on both sides willing to reach a compromise, mutual sacrifices and voluntary changes that allow both sides to retain a measure of their respective aims.

But... these people don't compromise. Everything's all-or-nothing. I hate to say it, but it is a black-and-white world to many, many people out there; and when one side persists in thinking that it's all about shades of gray, the other side (who sees it all in black-and-white) will cause a lot of people to die while we wait for the gray-shaders to define terms and write up resolutions.

These are the rules of this game. We either play using tactics that can win, or we change the rules altogether. We can't beat a bunch of football players if we arm ourselves with ping-pong racquets.

09:55 - The Word of Love Spreads
http://www.coldfury.com/Entries/00000152.html

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Mike at Cold Fury seems to have run across the now-semi-famous article by Courtney Love on record companies, Napster, and the RIAA, which has surfaced in a new location-- namely, her band Hole's own website.

Says Mike,

Maybe Courtney ought to take up blogging.

Yeah, check out the "News" box on holemusic.com's main page. Kinda looks like she's already doing that.


Which doesn't surprise me, really; Courtney's seemed to have a very progressive and admirable view of technology, from what I've seen-- kinda like discovering blogs by people like Ian McKellen. Love's article, to the best of my knowledge, was first published in Salon in June 2000, and it's been circulating back and forth since then, appearing here in this blog from time to time. I wonder if maybe I should see if I can set up a permalink to it so I can be doing my part to make sure everybody has a chance to read it.

I don't use her article to give myself carte blanche to steal music indiscriminately. I still think that's wrong, and will continue to be as long as our current system endures. But I do use the article to inform my opinion about what's going to happen to the music industry-- the record companies are going to have to undergo a catastrophic transformation if they're going to survive at all, and it's going to happen very soon. And in the meantime, I don't lose too much sleep over whether a stolen CD worth of MP3s is hurting the artists-- because I know from this that it's hurting only artists who "fear their own filler", as Love puts it, and it's hurting the labels a helluva lot more.

In all honesty, the first time I'd ever heard of Courtney Love was when I was reading this article; the only indication that I had of her being some kind of reviled figure in music was the lascivious picture of her at the top of the article in Salon. I figured she must be somebody that most people consider a ditzy blonde slut, and reading the article I was inclined to believe there's a lot more going on in her head-- in particular, a greatly sarcastic sense of irony-- than most people are likely to realize.

If this is the voice people need to hear delivering the message, hey, let it be so.
Tuesday, July 2, 2002
13:50 - Palladium Laid Bare
http://www.zdnet.com/anchordesk/stories/story/0,10738,2873149,00.html

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Newsweek's Steven Levy (most notably) broke the story of Microsoft's "Palladium" initiative-- the one where they propose to incorporate hardware-level public-key crypto authentication and digital-rights-management into every computer. However, if I'm reading this article by David Coursey aright, Levy's scoop was something that Microsoft had hoped not to have to talk about for a good long time yet.

But then some smart reporters--including Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft (a frequent radio guest of mine) and Newsweek's  Steven Levy--discovered that Microsoft had filed for a patent on an operating system with built-in digital rights management features.

Microsoft tried to keep a lid on the story for as long as possible. But after finding out that Levy was going to print something, the company invited him to Redmond for two days to hear the whole story. Even then, Microsoft didn't expect the story to run so soon. When it discovered that Levy's story was about to hit the streets, Microsoft barely had time to warn those of us who were maintaining our silence that the secret was almost out of the bag.

I'm telling you all this because Microsoft would have been better off staying silent on this one. The reports that are surfacing are going to raise many more questions than Microsoft has answers for.

I'm really starting to like Coursey. He's exactly what I like to see in the tech press: a reporter who's not afraid to go out, do some digging, try new things, and change his stance and opinions if what he finds disagrees with his preconceptions. No, he wasn't one of those who were taken up to Redmond for the emergency Palladium indoctrination-- but he's revealing something a good deal more important than what Microsoft has cobbled together by way of boilerplate; namely, the circumstances surrounding this scoop in the first place.

Levy, after all, didn't mention that Palladium wasn't supposed to have been announced this early or under these circumstances.

(Coursey'd always been a Windows guy, and fairly pro-Microsoft. He barely gave Apple a nod. But earlier this year, he undertook the now-famous "Month on a Mac", which extended to three months and perhaps longer because he didn't want to have to send his iMac back. He's now as likely as any Mac rumor site to write a column on Apple happenings, and he's as critical of Windows XP and Microsoft (and Palladium) as one could hope. And to dispel any accusations of favoritism, he spent a "Month on Linux", which recently ended; he concluded that Linux had a lot of things to recommend it, but not as a consumer desktop OS. No, he's a Mac guy now, at least in large part-- and presuming that Apple isn't paying him off, he's a prime example of someone who's willing to open his mind and have it changed through first-hand experience.)

Coursey's now interviewed the same people Levy has, and he's come to the same kinds of conclusions-- though, perhaps because he didn't go through the indoctrination procedure (evidently he was too busy being inculcated in the Tablet PC propaganda intended to convince him that the fact that Microsoft's handwriting recognition sucks Tiger Eyes is immaterial because "handwriting recognition doesn't matter"), his challenge to Microsoft is couched in more severe terms. Coursey isn't impressed. He wants answers to the questions that we're all asking: namely, what the hell business does Microsoft, the creator of 90% of all security holes in software today, have in undertaking to become the sole guardian of all of our digital identities and rights and capabilities and data? Who in their right mind trusts Microsoft to write security software?

The TalkBack people seem to agree with him, though I'm not reading anything but the titles on the posts. Nobody seems to have any faith in Microsoft's ability to pull this off-- the consensus is that this will be a disaster on an unprecedented scale. Nobody wants to see it happen. We know that computing will be fundamentally different in terms of security and privacy ten years from now-- but we know that Microsoft isn't the company we want to see do it.

And now that the cat's out of the bag early, there's time for the outrage to spread, and maybe do some good.
Monday, July 1, 2002
17:58 - Xserve Ships Today
http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1103-940871.html

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The Xserve began shipping today, as did a press release claiming 4,000 pre-orders and showing those competitive performance specs that they refused to give at the unveiling last month. If they're independently verifiable, they need not have worried:

Apple also released benchmark data that it claims shows Xserve's merits over servers from Dell Computer, IBM and Sun Microsystems. Apple claims that running the Apache server, Xserve can support 60 percent more connections--4,051 per second vs. 2,547 per second--than the IBM eServer x330. Apple also claims that using the four-drive configuration, Xserve provides sustained throughput of 110MB vs. 70MB for Dell's PowerEdge 1650.

"The results of the benchmark tests indicate that the product has some competitive position with IBM, Sun and Dell," Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal said. "It…adds credibility for any market Apple wants to get into--but certainly the corporate market."

Hell yeah, I should say so.

There are some comments by a Gartner analyst, which reveal some points that I didn't know were true:

Xserve's most important role for Apple could be bolstering the company's position in digital media streaming.

"The majority of (digital) content is created using QuickTime," said Gartner analyst Paul-Jon McNealy. QuickTime is Apple's media creation-and-playback technology that competes with RealOne from RealNetworks and Windows Media from Microsoft.

But most of that content is then converted to the competing formats, which have more market share than QuickTime. The competing formats mean that consumers must use multiple players if they want full access to all the streaming content on the Web.

Isn't that a pisser? All that Real and Windows Media content that people suck down all the time is most likely produced first in QuickTime, using Apple tools-- and then converted to the other formats.

I don't think anywhere near enough people realize how crucial Apple is behind the scenes, in areas where we don't usually see them. Stuff like QuickTime, Final Cut Pro, and now all this new video-editing and audio-sequencing stuff that they're buying up, to say nothing of the Xserve-- from Apple's corporate viewpoint, this whole battle-for-the-desktop thing almost seems like a side issue, compared to the magnitude of the installed base that relies upon their software because there is simply nothing like it for Windows.

Something big's a-brewing, it would seem to me. Apple's bought something like the five biggest market leaders in audio/video editing and production software over the past couple of years. What the hell kind of monstrous software package are they preparing to unleash upon us?

16:17 - THE MOOD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE

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I just got a piece of unsolicited e-mail that appears to be a mailing-list subscription message; if I'm reading it right, I've just been signed up, quite without my knowledge, for a Yahoo group called "Ar Rahman ~The International Islamic Foundation".

The welcome message was blank; the group's goals seem to be about general Islamic discussion, prayer timetables and stuff-- nothing sinister on the surface.

Then there's this footer at the bottom of the intro message:

~THE MOOD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE...~

...Really? To what? From what?

I guess I'll see soon enough...

13:42 - The Silent Steamroller
http://www.applelinks.com/articles/2002/07/20020701130427.shtml

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While people dish about the appropriateness of the Switch campaign for consumers and home users and programmers and IT managers and dominatrices, Apple's steamroller of a M&A division is quietly trundling through the A/V industry like a glacier.

Today they bought Emagic, a company that makes software called Logic, which is evidently the software package of choice for "over 200,000 musicians around the world", and "dominates the market for sequencing software", according to The Register.

Macintosh-based products account for over 65 percent of Emagic's current revenues. Emagic's Windows-based product offerings will be discontinued on September 30, 2002.

Heh heh heh.

13:28 - The Opposite of the Dell Dude
http://www.applelust.com/alust/oped/Editorials/Archives/carsona_dell.shtml

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Andrew E. Carson at AppleLust shares the letter that he'd written to Apple in hopes of being chosen for the "Switchers" campaign.

He's right-- the experience he describes is too personal, too detailed and technical for Apple to have been able to turn it into a 15-second sound bite. But it's the kind of letter that a lot of us would have written; and if you can, try to picture what the ad campaign would have looked like if it were letters like these that were chosen.

Would the Switchers have come across as brainwashed and deluded simpletons?

Or would they have appeared as obsessive tree-hugging theorists, babbling endlessly about things like "intuitiveness" and "design" and "style" and "happiness"?

Convincing die-hard Windows people of the Mac's viability is a long process with lots of steps. First you have to prove that you're someone worth listening to-- your first hurdle is to demonstrate that using a Mac does not instantly imply that you're a crazed zealot that you'd better hurry away from, or a computer-illiterate AOL zombie who thinks that the guy who says "You've got mail!" has a "really cool voice".

And only then do you get to move on to the next step: convincing the person that Windows has problems that shouldn't be there.

But OS X was immediately different. If I were to take my psychology (minus the bouts of irrationality and neuroticism) and impress it on a motherboard, the result would be something startlingly similar to OS X. And I told Apple so.

Okay, chix aside for a moment. How did you get inside my head? I mean, that's the only explanation. When I use OS X, it's like an extension of my own mind. When I save a file, it is stored exactly where I think it should be stored. No more saving a file and then having to search my entire HD to find it again -- only to discover it in a folder that a) I have never seen before, and b) whose name makes zero sense.

But astonishingly, most Windows users not only see this kind of ludicrous workflow as "the way things are", but become downright hostile to the notion that there's a better way. It still surprises the hell out of me that this is the case, but this-- getting the person to accept that Microsoft's way of making you do things is broken-- is the most difficult of all the steps.

Afterwards comes the demonstration that Apple's solutions are superior. This is the easy part. Once you have someone who is willing to look, willing to give your side-by-side demos a fair shake, then the game is yours. If he's open-minded, you've already won, because the software is so easily demonstrated to be superior. Just show them how iTunes can keep track of files no matter where you move them on your system, because of unique file IDs, which WinAmp can't do because Windows doesn't have a good enough filesystem; or show them how to rip an entire CD with one click, and burn a CD with another, which makes Windows Media Player look like a DOS utility by comparison. It's as compelling as a demonstration of gravity. It's open-and-shut.

The big hurdles are in getting those minds open in the first place.

And that's why the Dvorak-esque reaction to the Switch ads has been so hard for me to take. Thousands and thousands of people are being forced to think about their computers not being the only solution out there; they're being challenged with the notion that there's a better choice available than the one they made. And so out come their antibodies, their defenses against having to take that challenge seriously. To a man, they've never used a Mac, or at least not recently. They've never played with OS X, with iTunes or iPhoto or iMovie. They've never used Watson or experimented with column view or made custom icons. They don't have to. They know they're right. They know Windows is better. They know Macs suck.

Almost nobody who's demonstrably open-minded and willing to give Apple a fair shot is anti-Apple. That really ought to tell us something. Microsoft certainly can't boast that.

If the Switch campaign keeps up the pressure, those antibodies will have to run out eventually.

12:50 - Random Thought

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Is it just me, or is there no less sexy thing you can possibly call someone than "baby"?

I mean, what the hell?


12:02 - California Dreamin'

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You know, it's really sort of disconcerting to discover how disconnected one can become from general, popular, non-blogosphere-related opinion when one goes on vacation from the computer.

While in Nashville, for example, one friend that I met there-- who is otherwise a very fun guy, very talented and very sensible-- spent one car ride from one point to another on a little ranting tangent. It went sort of like this:

It's so ridiculous, this whole "War on Terrorism" thing. I mean, you declare war on a country, not a person-- and it was just one person behind 9/11. But no, now we're being condemned by every country in the world for going in and effectively nuking a third-world country-- I mean, what was the point of going in and bombing Afghanistan into the Stone Age? They were already in the Stone Age! ... And you know it's all just because we're helping out the Israelis. I don't understand why we're helping the Israelis in the first place...

"Because the Israelis are a capitalistic, freedom-loving democracy who has made the desert bloom, and the Muslim nations fighting against them are a bunch of medieval, fascistic, petty-warlord-based fanatical theocracies whose stated goal is the destruction of the West", I didn't say. No, I bit my tongue in the interest of harmony. But nobody's keeping me from blogging this.

I must admit, Nashville wasn't a place where I would have expected to find rampant anti-globo and anti-Zionist and anti-US-policy flowing. I come from Silicon Valley to Tennessee and find myself in a liberal swing so hard the wheel's locked against the stop? Whatever. But it seems to me that if one doesn't look terribly hard at the details behind any of the news that filters by on CNN's headline crawl, it's pretty easy to conclude that we deserve every blown-up building in New York or Tel Aviv. After all, quoting Churchill out of context is always a quick and easy way to appear cultured; talk about making the rubble bounce, and you're sure to get people nodding sagely about how stupid we are to have done anything but declare the 19 hijackers to have been adequately punished for their crimes by the suicide itself, and since they obviously acted alone, do nothing to root out any so-called state-sponsored terrorist organization that may or may not have sent them.

But, like I said, I didn't say a word. And if it's any consolation to me, most everybody else in the group seemed to be sitting in a throat-clearing silence as well, and a quick change of subject got things rolling again. But I tell you, I'm glad for more reasons than just the humidity to be back in California.

While we were on the disc golf course, I was musing to one of the guys about how no matter how expensive it is to rent housing around here, I'd still rather live in California than anywhere else. He looked genuinely surprised, and wanted to know why. I hadn't really thought about it, actually, and as I lined up my shot all I could say was, "The weather rocks, the food is excellent, and the people rule."

But I've traveled now to every part of the US except for Alaska, and I can say quite confidently that living anywhere else is just not something I could imagine. Maybe Oregon or Washington, sure-- but there's just something special about this state, whether our governor is corrupt and our power is expensive and in short supply or not.

Maybe it's the landscape. The mountains around here are spectacular, I'm sorry-- and it isn't until I visit other areas of the country (e.g. the South), where the landscape is one anonymous wooded rolling hill after another, where you can't see any interesting topography on the horizon, where the lenticular haze in the air makes distant clouds fade into indistinct light-gray ghosts at the edge of vision, where the only interesting objects breaking up the line of trees are the sixty-foot fast-food restaurant signs that cluster around freeway exits like redwood groves-- that I understand just how special a thing it is to see burly and severe hills thirty or forty miles away, the fog rolling over them through the low passes, the detail on their sides and around the edges of the fog and clouds as crisp as though they were right above your head. Being able to drive up Quimby Road and see the dark and light patches on Mt. Tamalpais north of the Golden Gate, sixty miles away, is something that makes my heart race. Maybe not everybody's... but mine, yes indeed it does.

Maybe it's that in the urban areas, space is at such a premium that the roads themselves take on personalities. Go ten miles outside the Bay Area and suddenly you're in rural farmland-- but within the city, each street has a history and a face. Lawrence Expressway. Montague Expressway. San Tomas Expressway. El Camino Real. You can stand on a Civil War battlefield and know that the Blue and the Gray fought right there on that spot-- but somehow it isn't as real as standing on a bustling commuter artery that you know two hundred years ago connected the Spanish missions up and down the coast, and was just as vital a thoroughfare as it is today.

Maybe it's that here, people are friendly but not invasive. Stand at a bus stop with strangers, and you'll get smiles and nods all around, but no boisterous and paternal conversation or stories about people's home lives. Everybody here is understood to be a mover and/or a shaker, and we figure that if that person over there wanted to be talked to, he or she would have said so. So: no outright hostility, á la New York. No insincere, forced smarminess, what a friend called "Minnesota Friendly" while I was visiting him in Minneapolis. No eerie sense that you're being sized up and judged, like in the South. Just laid back live-and-let-live.

But probably what it is, most of all, is the weather. Where else but LA can you wear shorts and a t-shirt at 4:00 in the morning in January? Where else but LA or San Jose (or, well, Hawaii) can you live comfortably in a house that has neither central heating nor air conditioning? In the South, I've found, the rain likes to leap out from behind doors, dump buckets on you, kick you in the balls, and then run away. Lightning storms are the rule, not the exception; over the course of a day you can expect to see it go from partly-cloudy to thundering rainstorm to tornado-watch and back, all without the temperature dropping below 90. But in California, if it's going to rain, you know it: it comes over the horizon, squaring its shoulders, rubs its hands together, and says, "Hey! I'm gonna rain now!" The people yell back, "Okay!" And then the rain goes about its business, gets everything nice and soaked for two or three days, wrings itself out, and leaves. "See you in November!" it calls back over its shoulder.

I know it pisses people off no end to hear Californians talk about "dry heat", but honestly I have to say that it's got to be one of the most fundamental issues behind regional personality differences in this country. The weather here is our friend. I can walk around outside in 114-degree heat on an August day in Ukiah, because the humidity is under 25%. But in Atlanta or Nashville, 85 degrees is unbearable, and 95 is agony. We came out of an air-conditioned Murfreesboro video store a couple of nights ago into what I thought was going to be the cool night air. But instead of feeling a crisp breeze prickling my skin, my glasses fogged up. I'm serious. A cloud had just done a drive-by raining at the intersection there about an hour before, and now the air was so laden with moisture and so hot that it was like stepping into a particularly aggressive sauna.

I don't mean to degrade an entire region for its weather; I really don't. But to have to scuttle painfully from doorway to car, and from car to doorway, hoping your anti-perspirant holds out for just one more minute until you can get to the shelter of the vents-- that's just no way to live. Skulking in fear of the very air, from air-conditioned haven to air-conditioned haven-- it's enough to make one wonder, as one of the guys living there even said, how anybody ever survived there before air conditioning existed. I wonder what life there was like when that technology was brand-new and just being adopted?

I have to say, though, that I can see what kinds of personalities can come from these different kinds of climates. In California, the weather isn't your enemy. It goes about its business, you go about yours-- and so the people behave similarly. But in the South, and indeed in the Midwest and some parts of the East Coast, or anywhere where the humidity is that oppressive-- well, growing up where air conditioning is an inextricable part of life, and where rain can come kung-fu kicking at you from any direction at any time, I can easily see how one might grow up spoiled, dependent upon technology, unwilling to bear hardships in the natural world if there's any choice in the matter. Those people who are able to hike or jog or even play golf in such an environment I admire greatly, and in particular those who are able to cultivate an appreciation for the natural world against a backdrop where that world so vividly represents an adversary. But if you're looking for a reason why religion seems to have taken such hold in the South, I say that the weather's got to have a lot to do with it. In no other region is it so apparent that we're at the mercy of higher powers, and that God-- with his air-conditioned churches-- is on our side.

I don't mean to sound as though I hate these other regions. I don't. Indeed, if it weren't for the humidity (and possibly the church density), I'd find Nashville to be a charming and livable place. But ... well, you know, getting off the plane in San Jose, standing next to the shuttle bus to long-term parking with the sun beating down on me and yet my hands remaining dry and not a drop of sweat on me-- when I ask my brain what the possibility would be of my moving away, its immediate response is, What, are you nuts?



09:57 - The Products Speak for Themselves
http://brian.carnell.com/articles/2002/06/000046.html

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Glenn Reynolds and Brian Carnell take turns harshing on the Hey, Arnold! movie and regretting having been forced to sit through it. Evidently it's trite, cheap, and has no real bearing on the show it comes from-- which, I admit, I haven't seen (the closest I'm willing to come to having rugrats of any kind in my house, with apologies to Lileks, is watching Baby Blues on Adult Swim).

Reynolds also disses the plot, which was one long anti-gentrification screed. But more than just the plot, the movie lacked completely the quirky atmosphere that makes the television show so much fun. There is a lot of ambiguity in the characters and situations in the show (which is one of its strengths -- it avoids the moral platitudes and mini-lectures that adults always want to insert into kids' shows), so it was weird seeing this simplistic black-and-white morality tale. Much of the time the movie looked like what Hey, Arnold! might be if the idiots responsible for Fern Gully took over the show.

Funny-- that's exactly the impression I got of the movie from the trailers. I remember immediately thinking, "These anti-corporate 'Oh, no, save the neighborhood from the evil black-suited corporate capitalists' angsty hippie storylines are sort of anachronistic these days, aren't they?" I mean, come on-- here we are trying to explain to the anti-globalization people why they're such morons for wanting to destroy McDonald's and the Gap and convince everybody to grow their own food and weave their own clothes, presumably because such things are eeeeevil-- and where does sentiment come from? Movies like Hey, Arnold!, it seems to me. This kind of story doesn't tell us anything new. It's just more yammering away on the same old note, one that has been ringing hollow since the days of Wayne's World. And especially so these past eight months.

Meanwhile, though, where I was seeing this trailer over and over-- and being thankful that I wasn't seeing the movie itself-- was in front of Lilo & Stitch, which I think is simply marvelous. Now, much as I know I should be boycotting Disney as a truly evil empire with aspirations that I can't condone, there is no way for me to deny that they make a superior product. When they decide to do break away from their money-making formula, they can produce some of the best stuff ever seen on this planet-- they still attract the very best creative people in the industry, and when you put all those people together in a building, there's a magic that gets produced that no amount of corporate greed or agenda can quell. Whereas Microsoft seems incapable of doing anything truly excellent, Disney keeps proving over and over again that they deserve every inch of their lead. (It's their choices that prove the quality of the company, though, not their capabilities-- to paraphrase Dumbledore.)

There is so much good about Lilo & Stitch that I won't bother listing more than three, at the risk of leaving out a whole pile of stuff that you're better off just experiencing in the theater.

  1. Stitch's character design is some of the best, most original work I've seen in years. Not just his visual structure, either-- his movement and his characterization. It's just brilliant. It's so complex that there's a ton of stuff you don't even get to see fleshed out, and that's the mark of greatness.
  2. Lilo, as a character, pulls off the impossible: a kid that I find cute and even appealing. She's precocious, but not in that Calvin or Bart Simpson or South Park or Home Movies kind of way-- you know, where the kids are just miniature adults, dealing with the same issues as the adults do and just as astutely. That kind of thing is good for laughs, but it's getting a bit trite, methinks. But that's because it's so much harder to do what they've done with Lilo: she's nuts, feeding the fish that controls the weather, taking pictures of fat tourists, and making her astute observations about raw and visceral emotions-- love and family-- that is absent from the sarcastic and cynical dishing that we usually see from the kids-smarter-than-the-adults shows. Again, brilliant.
  3. The interaction between Lilo and Nani-- particularly during that fight through the house that they have early in the movie-- is some of the most realistic human interaction that I have ever seen animated. Seriously. It makes the mouth hang open at how far this stuff has come from the metaphorical shorthand of fairy-tale animation. Maybe we'll one day experience a return to the traditional elision of stark realism in human characterization, but I for one think what we have today is outstanding.


First The Emperor's New Groove, and now this. And from the way things are going, this time Disney might actually have a box-office and merchandising success on their hands, something they haven't been able to do with a non-Pixar movie since The Lion King. And they so desperately need such a success to keep them from being evil. If this encourages them to keep making ground-breaking movies, where the big-budget effects take a backseat to the writing and the characterizations (in an extension of what's been so successful lately with Cartoon Networks' gold shows), like NASA's shoestring projects that got so much done for so little money before they imploded under quality shortcuts-- I'm all for it. As long as they don't end up like NASA.

It's easy to hate Microsoft, isn't it? Because everybody hates Windows. But it's just so damned hard to hate things like Lilo & Stitch.
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© Brian Tiemann