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:

Steven Den Beste
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
As the Apple Turns
Cold Fury
Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
Ravishing Light
Cartago Delenda Est

Cars without compromise.

Book Plugs:

Buy 'em and I get
money. I think.
BSD Mall

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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, March 23, 2003
02:15 - That's how to start off a week

Lileks is in fine form this morning, coalescing the events of the past couple of days better than most, through the judicious application of one layer of observational indirection.

He's losing patience ever so slightly with the BBC, and the feeling I get in reading the way he conveys that impatience can only be described as "guilty glee".

Wait'll you see the new word they've coined.

01:59 - Something to be proud of

Before embarking on another afternoon of hard manual labor (sledgehammering concrete pads, digging up water-heavy sod, changing locks), and before buying the chair to go with that super-awesome sofa (we came up with a layout for the new master bedroom that will accommodate both), Lance and I stopped for lunch at Togo's. While I was ordering my sandwich, the girl making it saw my shirt and said, "Oh, Strong Bad!" We chortled about Homestar Runner for a bit; then when the other guy came to take my money, he said with a grin, "Hey, how much is that shirt?"

And now, in a Cold Stone Creamery after dinner, the girl who was making my ice cream said, "Hey, a Strong Bad shirt!"

I'd call that Total Meme PenetrationTM.

01:25 - Did someone set up us Saddam?


John Little at Blogs of War doesn't think much of the Saddam video just aired.

I can't believe I stayed up for the "historic speech from Saddam". It looked like another file piece. There was no way to put a date on it. It was intorduced by the Minister of Information who I increasingly suspect of running the country since he is the only official we really hear from. I want the last hour of my life back.

I don't know if there'll be much more info on this tonight (CNN and FoxNews both seem to have little more than a headline on the matter), but I'd like to hear whether it's true that the Minister of Information merely introduced the video rather than passing the microphone to Saddam in person, and whether the video in fact contained anything temporaneous.

If Little's brief analysis is correct, I'm actually weirdly encouraged in a way-- because it means the Iraqi power structure, such as it is, is living up to its well-earned and sterling reputation of honesty and kept promises. Up till now I was wondering, "So what about all that Stalin-class propaganda? C'mon, let's see some real world-class lying of the out-the-ass variety. Let's see some bluster and posturing and some verbal missiles fired at right angles to reality."

Well, it looks like that's all back in operation. To say nothing of good old-fashioned torture and slaughter of POWs, which I expect will absolutely scandalize that Human Rights Watch guy who was on the BBC last night. Or not.

Saturday, March 22, 2003
02:47 - Miscellaneity

Chris and I stopped off at a 7-11 on the way back from squash just now; and looking at the headlines and cover stories of the weekly magazines on the rack, I realized: these were all printed before the war started.

The war might be over before the first magazine his the stands that says WAR!

Interestingly, though: the BBC, on the way home, was reporting (via the Iraqi information minister, ahem) that Saddam has appeared repeatedly on TV, confident and healthy, over the past several days.

Have I just been missing the reports of this everywhere else?

Oh, and just now they had on some guy from the international Human Rights Watch or some such organization... demanding in broken English that the Americans show proof that they're making some small attempt to distinguish military targets from civilian areas. You know, nothing much-- we cannot expect those bloodthirsty Americans to provide more than the barest minimum cooperation toward human rights. But all we ask is that they try to at least acknowledge the Geneva Convention. Whatever restraint we can get those barbarians to show is a victory for humanity everywhere.

Sweet merciful crap. Now I know what Lileks meant by those indelible BBC sneers.

02:32 - An "Oh God, what have we done?" moment

As the human shields roll back home:

"Don't you listen to Powell on Voice of America radio?" [the Iraqi driver] said. "Of course the Americans don't want to bomb civilians. They want to bomb government and Saddam's palaces. We want America to bomb Saddam."

We just sat, listening, our mouths open wide. Jake, one of the others, just kept saying, "Oh my God" as the driver described the horrors of the regime. Jake was so shocked at how naive he had been. We all were. It hadn't occurred to anyone that the Iraqis might actually be pro-war.

The driver's most emphatic statement was: "All Iraqi people want this war." He seemed convinced that civilian casualties would be small; he had such enormous faith in the American war machine to follow through on its promises. Certainly more faith than any of us had.

Perhaps the most crushing thing we learned was that most ordinary Iraqis thought Saddam Hussein had paid us to come to protest in Iraq. Although we explained that this was categorically not the case, I don't think he believed us. Later he asked me: "Really, how much did Saddam pay you to come?"

Okay. Now that that's all cleared up...

All wars have winners and losers. Perhaps, in order for this discussion to be meaningful, we ought to be asking not who is for the war and who is against the war-- but, rather, who the war is for.

So let's review: Who will benefit, physically or politically, from our successfully prosecuting this war?
  • The US' national security
  • The Iraqi civilian population
  • Iraqi troops willing to surrender
  • The UK and other nations in the "coalition of the willing"

And who would have benefitted, physically or politically, from our not prosecuting this war?
  • Saddam Hussein and his sons
  • Iraqi troops loyal to Saddam
  • Islamic terrorists operating out of Iraq or anticipating Iraqi assistance
  • France
  • The anti-war protesters

So... what, then, is the problem? If we are willing to sacrifice the interests of anybody in the first list for the benefit of those in the second, then something is very, very wrong.

(I note, by the way, that the UN loses either way. Either we go to war without their approval, rendering them meaningless as an international body; or we don't go to war because they don't approve it, and thus prove that none of their resolutions have teeth. They could have won by approving war, but instead they put themselves into a no-win situation.)

And if there's one thing to be absorbed from this, it's that even if Andrea on that radio clip really was just a feeb who hadn't thought things through, Mohammed (her opponent) certainly had a crucial point: Iraqis want the war to happen, as so many anti-war activists are gradually and independently finding out, to their great shock and awe.

When that's entered into the equation, what real reasons not to fight are there?

23:49 - Lorem gypsum dolor

Today was spent in systematically removing approximately $100,000 of saleable perceived value from the new house.

As the first order of business after taking possession, we're removing the partition wall that divides one bedroom from another, and turning them into a combined second master suite. The new partition wall will be moved down a few feet and be composed of columns and an arched doorway, and curtains. That way there will be a bedroom area that's divided from a semi-public drawing room area; that's the part that's going to get all the aesthetic Christopher Lowell-esque interior decoration treatment.

I bought a couch for it today; in Levitz, I saw it over against the wall; I sat down in it, then I was seized with the urge to never get up again. As I sat there, dumbfounded, an elderly couple walked past: "Isn't that sofa just the most amazing thing?" And we all sat around marveling. I don't know why it's taken them this long to invent the perfect sofa, but I think they must have sold like six of them today at just that one store.

When Lance came in from the car, I said: "Hey-- you know what I love?"


"This couch."

Anyway, removing that partition wall involved axes and crowbars and kung-fu. Easily the most fun I've had causing havoc and destruction in a long time.

That drywall didn't stand a chance.
Friday, March 21, 2003
01:30 - The New Godwin's Law

Zjonni and I had a long and interesting hot-tub discussion (is there any other kind?) regarding the war and public opinion toward it, and the various factors that have gone into shaping that opinion, especially over the past several days. I'd just shown him the Mohammad-vs-Andrea audio clip, which has reportedly been swaying opinions left and right (as it were), and he'd left my room with his arms held out in front of him, making the "O" face from Office Space. And thinking about what kind of meme it is, and how effective it is in driving home its point, made me wonder about how the psychological and political fallout from this war is going to look a couple of years from now. "The facts are on our side," he says. But are facts enough? Facts are the basis for our reasoned arguments here in the blogosphere, or at least in theory they are. We rely on facts and rhetorical skill to make our case and hope our audiences are open-minded and intellectually curious enough to follow the links we present and (hopefully) arrive at the same conclusions we do.

What's going to happen two years hence? The war in Afghanistan hasn't proven to be the psychological coup that many thought it would, because the facts and positive memes (girls being allowed to go to school, Starbucks and McDonald's and Hyatt hotels going into Kabul, soccer stadiums being used for soccer instead of executions) keep getting obscured by negative anecdotal memes like inflated civilian casualty rates, still being given credence even months after being discredited, and accusations of American empire/hegemony. I find myself wanting to keep a quiver of hard-hitting anecdotes to whip out in a pinch when in an argument, when I really want to lay some festering opinion to rest and sink a fact in up to the fletching.

The question, though, and what our discussion centered on, was the legitimacy of such an approach as an argumentation method. Do we legitimize anecdotal reasoning by using it? Or do we rise above that temptation, dismissing it as the domain of the opposition?

Because I've noticed-- and so has Zjonni, who wrote about it back on 9/14/2001-- that if there's one thing held in common by the anti-war Left, it's the tendency to argue by slogans, ad hominem attacks, and other such "cheap shots" that provoke a swift gut reaction in the listener, even if they're not based on fact or reality. The opponent can recite facts and reason all he wants, but the sad reality is that his boring facts will not sway the sloganeer. What we've got is yet another manifestation of the old creationism-vs-evolution debates, in which one side is reasoning from fact and working theory, but the other side is reasoning from faith. No matter what the scientist says or how many barbs he deflects, he's not going to sway the guy whose platform is founded on faith. The two sides are operating on completely different sets of rules. The one side refuses to use certain argumentative techniques that the other side feels no compunction against using, and so will never gain the upper hand.

A prime example that he brought up is the ongoing argument by which anti-war forces rage about how American depleted-uranium rounds have caused thousands of birth defects in Iraqi babies over the past twelve years. Look at these pictures we have! they shout. Deformed babies! Who can be so callous as to doubt our claim?! Never mind, of course, that depleted uranium does not have measurable radiation-- because it's depleted. It has less radiation than the carbon in the human body. And yet that point usually only gets brought up as about comment #19 in any given thread on the subject, and nobody ever seems to pay attention or internalize it. Why? Because the reasoned facts are boring, and the sloganeering and visual sucker-punch is a lot more effective.

The person whose position is based on faith will never budge; their faith will never be shaken. Stand at a podium next to someone screeching that depleted uranium causes birth defects; do your best to refute it. You'll never win, at least in convincing your opponent to your position, because no matter how factual and well-reasoned your argument, in the vocabulary of his argument, yours doesn't look any more forceful than stamping your feet and saying "...Nuh-uh!"

But that's the key: even if you don't ever sway your direct opponent, the goal of the argument is not to sway your opponent anyway; it's to sway the onlookers. The audience might well prove to be more willing to listen to a reasoned argument and differentiate between a faith-based platform and a platform of fact. This is where we who prefer to stick to facts actually stand a chance; you can see it in action in the Mohammed/Andrea clip, in which Andrea leaves the show clearly no more chastened in her pacifist position than she ever was before... but the audience, the thousands of people who have heard the clip by now, whether during the original radio broadcast or during its subsequent travels throughout the Net, are left thinking that God-- she was such an idiot! It's they who are the real targets of well-reasoned arguments. The direct opponents, the ones secure in their faith, are a red herring. There are a lot fewer of them in any case. What matters are the numbers won to your cause, not the volume at which they can screech.

It's easy to dismiss the mobs on Market Street as "rebels without a clue"; but to dismiss them without applying public opposition to their opinion runs a terrible risk: that the audience, the "silent majority", will hear their raving and take it to be valid because it's unopposed. They'll take it as the word of an authority. When the BBC compares our "shock and awe" campaign (which has killed between 10 and 200 Iraqi civilians, depending on the source) to Dresden (250,000), you can wave a dismissive hand and say "People are stupid"-- yeah, but these people are being listened to. If you meet the challenge head-on, you won't win over many of the actual opposition; but your arguments-- especially if well constructed and reasoned without yielding to the opposition's underhanded tactics-- will sway the much greater numbers of those watching and analyzing quietly from the sidelines.

Winning those numbers is a daunting task. There are a variety of traps to fall into when undertaking an argument toward such an end; avoiding those traps is a matter of "honor" more than prudence, but only by sticking to that sense of honor do we maintain a rhetorical moral high ground. And that's what's going to stand the test of time.

Zjonni said that in his arguments, he refuses to lower himself to the level of his opponents when they engage in the tactics currently so favored by the anti-war crowd: ad hominem attacks, appeals to gut reaction, pleasing ironies, sheer volume, and poorly-documented anecdotal evidence.

Ad hominem attacks can be very satisfying ("You chirping bird!"); they can be very effective. The temptation to yield to this kind of tactic is immensely strong, particularly when up against an opponent who deserves it. They're easy to identify, though, and while some debaters make a comfortable living using nothing but this tactic, no such rhetoric will have any relevance further down the road, when whoever the person was ad-hominemming against is no longer an active public figure or actively opposing the viewpoint in question. When that happens, all that's left is the original point-- which may well be revealed to have no substance.

Appeals to gut reaction are like the movie poster for Patch Adams: in the words of Paul Tatara, CNN's movie reviewer, with the clown nose and the warm smile, it was "like getting punched in the stomach with a fistful of dollars". It's the "aaawww" instinct, the temptation to show pictures of cute puppies or deformed babies to melt or enrage the viewer. Because who can resist puppies or babies? It's waaay too easy, and completely non-substantive. I remember being in a mock debate in seventh grade exploratory class; the topic was abortion, and I was on the "pro" side-- until the opposing side trotted out a photo of -- well, let's just say I know precisely what it's like to be on the receiving end of this particular argumentative tactic.

Pleasing ironies are what constitute most peace protesters' signboards: NO BLOOD FOR OIL. BUSH=HITLER. AT LEAST SADDAM WAS ELECTED! If a casual observer digs even slightly into any of these, he finds that it's completely bogus; but on the face of it, it can trip the same kind of frontal-lobe nerve that reacts to the gut-reaction tactics described above. Especially if there's a joke or a gag involved. These days, there's a strong tendency for us to think it's funny-- so it must be true! I don't think anybody seriously can make a reasoned case that the only difference between Bush and Hitler is the moustache; but in the first second and a half after seeing that kind of sentiment on a sign, worded wittily enough and accompanied by a good enough picture, the viewer's mind is softened up enough by the humor and irony to think, hey-- maybe he's right! And getting barraged by thousands of these signs in a day will break down anybody's defenses. This is the tactic that I'm tempted to label "The New Godwin's Law"-- compare Bush to Hitler, and you've automatically forfeited the argument.

Sheer volume is the tactic of putting a giant megaphone on your car and driving around preaching your message, like the Blues Brothers, at such a volume that you can't be drowned out. This is the tactic used by the protesters in San Francisco who think that if they just make their moves more and more extreme-- vomiting and shitting in the streets while obstructing traffic and interfering with daily business-- then they're sure to not be ignored. This tactic is best left to fantasy, right along with outright violence; because as we've seen, it's really easy to take this too far, and you end up alienating your entire sympathetic audience. And it's easy for this tactic to escalate into outright terrorism.

Finally, poorly-documented anecdotal evidence is the most insidious tactic of all, and it's the one I'm having the most trouble eschewing. Any time we post a link in a blog which digs up some obscure passing quote from some second- or third-hand source, we're employing this tactic. I can post a link to this story (via LGF), in which the "human shields" are leaving because "Some of the Iraqis he interviewed on camera 'told me they would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny'"... and while this is exceedingly effective, it's also not the kind of meme that's going to stand the test of time. It might turn out to be false. It might get eclipsed by similar events that can be interpreted in a crucially different way. It might make for an amusing story sometime down the road, but it's never going to make as good ammunition after the fact as it will in swaying someone's opinion right now, in the heat of the moment.

And that's really what I wanted to get at: there are two kinds of audiences that I find myself arguing with the intention of persuading. There is the general public, people who I may or may not know personally; I might persuade them or I might not. It's really not too much of a concern to me whether I do or not, as it's overall just a game of numbers, of percentages of the audience convinced; but naturally I want to present as compelling a case as possible, in case it gets quoted or backlinked or inspires comment from someone at random months down the road. And so naturally I want these arguments to be as factual and well-documented as they possibly can be. If that means being a little less inflammatory and anecdotal than I might be, if that means being boring and stodgy and unoriginal, if that means carefully researching everything until I have an absolutely ironclad case to present (and all the attendant lack of effectiveness against a counterargument from someone willing to use the aforementioned underhanded tactics in response), then that's the risk I run. I'd be doing it with the understanding that my well-reasoned argument would stand up better in the long run and be relevant much longer than someone's ad hominem attack or cutesy ironic slogan.

But the other type of audience is the person with whom I'm personally acquainted-- maybe a close friend who holds a view opposite to my own, someone who I would really love to have on my side, someone who I want to be able to talk and laugh with after the whole issue is behind us. How does one conduct this kind of argument? Reason and fact are effective, but not always-- because, crucially, the person you're talking to is an audience, not an opponent; and he'll also be listening to people who are presenting opinions opposite your own, and those people might be using those very tactics that you refuse to use yourself. You might not want to lower yourself to using things like anecdotal memes. But the stakes are much higher, because you're trying to convince a friend-- and you're likely to lose, if the other fellow your friend is listening to feels no compunction about using those kinds of tactics. They're more effective, even if they don't stand up factually.

So-- in this case, do you stoop to the level of using those tactics? Is this a case where you might deem success to be of enough importance that those underhanded maneuvers might be justified? If it's an anonymous audience of many, it isn't crucial that you convince any one individual reader; but if it's a friend, it is crucial. So in these cases, I feel as though I'm justified in keeping that proverbial quiver of ringer points and memes slung around my shoulder, firing them off just when they'll be most effective, hoarding the karma points and spending them as I deplete my ammunition. Such a meme is a "big gun"; it's like a nuke, in that by God it'll get the job done, but there are real consequences for using it. Where it's appropriate to use would be a situation where I feel success trumps argumentative ethics; holding to a standard of rules-of-engagement is a nice-to-have, but success is a requirement. I really, really want the person to agree with me. And I'm willing to have some of my arguments come up for audit after the fact, and I'm willing to defend and justify them then, if it means that in the interim we can have consensus and harmony and the satisfaction of being on the same side.

I'm not talking about lying, of course; I'm talking about things like the Mohmmed/Andrea clip, the Day By Day cartoon, and in fact pretty much the entire blogosphere. It's all stuff that supports my position, yes, and it's all very persuasive. But it still all amounts to opinion; it's the kind of evidence that makes a strong case only when taken as a whole, evaluated as a collective zeitgeist, but which can seem uneven and unbalanced when examined piecemeal. There's no guaranteeing the validity of what you see on a blog, compared to what you might see on a major news site. There's no rhetorical legitimacy to formulating a political opinion based on a great comic strip or a sarcastic parody anti-war signboard slogan. Sure, it's funny; sure, it's great for provoking a gut reaction. Sure, over time it can cause a sea change in someone's worldview stronger than any number of dry documented facts can. But it's not the kind of evidence that will be as valid two or three years from now.

So in a (very roundabout) way, what I'm doing is more or less to try to put the whole concept of this "blogging" thing into perspective as a form of social discourse. What most of us are doing, really, is recording our memes in our own self-defined forums that we know follow certain well-published biases; we declare that we know we're all biased in a certain way, and then we have carte blanche to post nuggets of data that we otherwise might consider completely inadmissible pieces of evidence in a scholarly work. These nuggets all fit together as threads in a vast tapestry of opinion, a continuum that spans a generation of what once might have been called "wit"; and within those parameters, it's a phenomenon unlike any other in human history. Its power to convince and to incite to action is like nothing we've ever seen before. But its power is a dangerous one; with great power comes great responsibility, as they say, and we have to be sure we know what kind of thinking we're up against, and how to combat it, and how not to combat it. Opinion is a powerful tool, but it's not an end in itself.

How will we look back on this Iraq action two years down the road? I hope we can click open our old archives and be proud of what we find there. I don't know if I can say I will. But I know that if I at least keep in sight the tactics that the opposition uses, and find that I've been able to avoid responding in kind, I think I'll be pleased.

Yes, I know I'm being kinda hypocritical here; I've never been one to stick to pure fact and reason in the things I write here, and-- let's be frank-- ad-hominem attacks and pleasing ironies are fun, which is why I do them. Indeed, it's hard to reconcile this call to logic with my defense of the Mac; to advocate Apple is to advocate what is essentially a liberal cause (the Mac's superiority is based on ideals, anecdotes, entitlements, community mentality, etc), and the arguments I've used more often than not fall squarely into the categories I've described here. Facts and logic and reason would tend to dismiss Apple as irrelevant.

I'm not saying we all should avoid using these kinds of tactics at all times, or anything like that; and I doubt I'll be practicing what I preach anytime soon either. The whole reason I blog is that I like posting bits of out-of-context information that I can spin in a way that's to my liking. My point is that we're all entitled to use whatever underhanded tactics and biases we like; that's our right and what makes blogging fun. But let's just not kid ourselves that that's not what we're doing.

UPDATE: Various people have been ahem-ing and mailing me URLs about depleted uranium, and how it's really nasty stuff, the likely causative of Gulf War Syndrome, etc, etc. One scientific resource in particular that was brought to my attention was this study by Vladimir S. Zajic, which seems rather exhaustive. However, Zjonni and I pored over it for some time, and found that while it detailed a lot of the direness of risk entailed by being in the line of fire or scooping up DU-tainted dirt, the paper a) did a lot of speculative math about the DU dust contamination by a hypothetical projectile (followed by radiation readings taken by the Christian Science Monitor and Iraqi officials, as reliable as we know those to be); b) claimed that DU dust would be spread by weather effects (not true-- it's heavier than gold dust); and c) made no attempt to claim that DU had a link to birth defects-- except once, in which he admits that "the cause of these birth defects is unknown". And check out his list of references. "Nukes of the Gulf War"? "Swords to Plowshares"? "Metal of Dishonor"? The Independent? He's got a lot of actual scientific papers in the mix, but these other nuggets make them poor company. He then goes on to praise "respected British journalist" Robert Fisk.

We then did a Google search on "depleted uranium" "birth defects", and in the first five pages of links found nothing resembling a scientific paper that linked DU to birth defects. (After five pages we gave up.) And given the nature of Google, you'd think that at least some groups would have done a lot of linking to such a paper, kicking it up toward the top of the result list, perhaps? You'd think that those groups whose websites did fill those five pages of results would have had it as their flagship supporting evidence. But there was nothing. Plenty of resources which agree that DU is nasty stuff, responsible for plenty of health problems if ingested, but not the culprit in any way that can be proven for those birth defects (the pictures of which, gathered as they usually are into a group, show vastly differing symptoms which can be easily attributed to a variety of much more likely and present causes in Iraq at the time-- for one, no people had ever before been exposed to crude oil smoke in anywhere near that quantity before).

The upshot would seem to be that depleted uranium certainly isn't something you'd want to stir into your cereal, but I remain to be convinced that those waving signs with pictures of deformed babies are motivated by fact rather than the desire to kick the viewer's mind right in the nads.

Yet another UPDATE: Zjonni has dug up the following two sources which seem to do a pretty good job of refuting the claims in the Zajic study:


14:40 - Yay!

Just planting a little stake in the ground: I just got the call confirming the recording of the property. (Actually I had to hunt around a bit for it; nobody seems to want to check their voice-mail, let alone pick up their phone.)

So I'll likely be incommunicado for a few hours... while we start moving in.

13:40 - MSN bound for portal hell?

Another link sent me by Kris-- this osOpinion piece by Tiernan Ray suggests that MSN has business-modeled itself into a corner, and a future in which it replaces AOL is likely to be even more dreary and prosaic than this one. With AOL hemhorraging money and MSN in a full-court press to woo its customers, it's hard to see Microsoft "failing" like the article predicts, or AOL emerging stronger than ever; but I do agree that I can't imagine anybody being terribly proud of having built a faceless portal empire like what MSN threatens to be.

This past weekend I had another desultory encounter with what some still believe is Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT) interest in the "content" business. While trying to hook up to the Net a friend's ultralite laptop running Windows XP Professional, and bereft of the ubiquitous AOL (NYSE: AOL) software, I was taken on a tour of frustration as the preloaded Microsoft Network tried first to use a username it hijacked from another dial-up connection, then led me on a tedious and insanely slow walk through utterly irrelevant shopping and news links, none of which had anything to do with the Internet. I ultimately toasted the MSN connection and set up a third-party ISP account I had in my back pocket.

MSN won't make most people's experience of connecting to the Net very special. This is a network that doesn't care about being a network, like a supposedly hip restaurant that secretly yearns to be a car wash. And so it comes as no surprise that IDC has recently concluded MSN may soon give up on being an Internet access player. What is left after you jettison the dial-up part, the so-called "content" business, would leave MSN in the position of being a re-tread of C/Net's failed "Snap!" online service from five years ago.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I'd sure hate to be in charge of trying to fill that particular business niche.

13:34 - Steve, you're making it hard to like you

Rush Limbaugh apparently doesn't think too highly of Al Gore's joining Apple's board either.

This was just devastating. We use Macs here at the EIB Network. We're an entire Mac shop, and Algore, who probably wouldn't know the Internet if he was on the computer, is now a member of the Apple board of directors.

I have to see if one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. Gosh, I hope not, and I hope he doesn't have anything to do, other than ceremonial duties, with this outfit. If they start letting him reinvent Apple like he reinvented government, oh boy... I just ordered a couple of new G4 Power Mac towers, and this is the way I get paid back? Geez.

And to think, when I followed this link that Kris sent me, that I was worried I'd hear a Rushian rant about how this just proves how stupid Apple is and how much Macs suck. Instead, it turns out that he's mostly just sharing our smirks and mock dismay.

Jobs' putting Gore on the board may well have been the underhanded political statement that it so readily resembles; as a corporation, Apple can't really take stands on the big divisive issues, and even when sending out its "QuickTime News" e-mail newsletters, it refers to the content of featured broadcast political items in the broadest possible terms, so as not to alienate half its audience. The most political Apple has gotten is to do things like put up that banner image of Carter on its main page a while back. (Unless you count the giant US flag they draped down the freeway-facing side of 3 Infinite Loop for a year-- but that hardly makes them all that unique.)

But these moves by a known left-wing Jobs aren't being received with much humor; Apple as a company may be studiously neutral, and its CEO may be a postmodern hippie, but more and more Mac users are being revealed to be conservatives. I correspond regularly with at least a dozen folks with @mac.com addresses, all of whom share roughly the same views on the war and such, and none of whom don't. And more seem to be appearing every day. We can count Chris Muir among these, it turns out; and now we find out Rush Limbaugh is similarly inclined.

I'll bet this pisses off Jobs no end.

Thursday, March 20, 2003
02:51 - A different kind of countdown

By the way, I went by the title company today and dropped off that monstrous cashier's check that they needed; and a couple of hours ago I got a (possibly automated) e-mail from the loan officer announcing that my mortgage was 100% approved and ready to fund.

Which means they record tomorrow morning, and send me notification of recording around noon; and then I'm probably going to take the rest of the day off (the Navy seems to have cancelled its tour of our software labs, for some mysterious reason they call recent world events).

It's gonna be a long weekend-- but in all likelihood a fun one.

01:19 - I knew it


01:09 - More watching, more waiting

Not many people seem to be blogging a whole lot today-- if it's for anything like the same reasons as my own, I'd venture that it has something to do with how none of us really feel qualified to say anything; I sure don't, anyway. If I were to post anything about the war, it would either be lame regurgitation of bullet points covered in much greater detail elsewhere, or rehashed philosophy about the moral rectitude of the invasion, by this stage reduced through exasperation to simply telling people to listen to that now-famous audio clip of the Iraqi expatriate telling off the Little Chirping Bird.

Running through a bunch of fan-art uploaded by the Teen Girl Squad demographic; there's an encouraging diversity of opinion, with some actual supportive material appearing from time to time. But by far more predominant are deep sentiments like "Why is this happening? The Americans are going to kill countless innocence. There are people in Iraq that are just sitting in their houses waiting until a bomb blows them up, because they can't do anything about it. I wish it would stop..." and "Bah, this war is unnesessary. I'm pretty sick of it now." Look-- the purpose of this war is not to entertain you. Argh. I don't want to have to put up a public statement with links and resources trying to educate the site's users before they pop off, or (worse) banning politically-motivated postings, so I've gotta vent a little bit here. Phew. I feel a little better.

Anyway, one person who has been doing double-blog-duty in the face of the dearth of postings elsewhere is Lileks, and I couldn't hope for better. The "money quotes" come fast and furious ("For these people there is no history before 1968, when the world sprang fully-formed from Timothy Leary's forehead..."); want to laugh on this sober day and yet not feel guilty or callous about it? Hop on over and linger a bit.

Just one random free-floating thought of my own, though: If Saddam has already been capped, and if that means the war will be over in a matter of days and with ridiculously few casualties, think how silly all the partisan vitriol throughout the past few months is going to look in retrospect.

And so, back to the twitchy page-reloading.

09:25 - Update Your iPods


Wow. Some days, you just stumble across something that fits your situation like a well-crafted horoscope:

Some customers have reported that over time their iPod's battery life has declined. This update enables the iPod to more accurately monitor its battery charge, thus using the entire battery capacity and regaining long battery life. The result is longer playback time and extended standby time. After updating the iPod, customers can expect at least 10 days of standby battery life on a full charge.

Prior to this update, the iPod would sometimes mistake a temporary low voltage condition as an indication that the battery was discharged. This resulted in the iPod shutting down prematurely, even though the battery was still capable of powering the iPod.

Oh, you mean like exactly what's been happening with my iPod. I knew it wasn't that my battery was that badly exhausted-- it's not that old.

Okay! Let's see if we can cause a spike at Akamai. Three... two... one... download!

08:59 - A New Media War

John Little at Blogs of War has been up all night posting updates every few minutes, relayed from TV news feeds from the front. He's been kept at it with the help of an encouraging spouse and large doses of caffeine.

I've found the coverage of specific war events to be better there than just about anywhere else. From CNN and other major news sources, I'd almost get the impression that nothing happened last night. When, in fact, it may be that quite the opposite is the case.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
00:00 - We're in good hands

"Freedom is the right of all sentient beings!"

Via Hiker-- it seems an Ohio national guardsman has changed his name to "Optimus Prime". It's on all his official documents, including his military ID and callup papers for when he got sent to Iraq for the present war.

My favorite part, though, is this:

"I got a letter from a general at the Pentagon when the name change went through and he says it was great to have the employ of the commander of the Autobots in the National Guard."

I hear tell that in the ranks above Colonel, promotions owe as much to "people skills" as to merit. If that means generals have this kind of sense of humor, I think that's no bad thing.

22:31 - The day's not without its dose of the surreal

Al Gore has just been elected to the board of directors at Apple.

Hmm... how best to take advantage of this treasure trove of opportunity:

Al Gore ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Gore is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through his innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.

11:50 - Bowling for Honesty

Thank CapLion for digging up this one.

For those (like me) who are still seething from Bowling for Columbine, and who even after registering our own reactions are still unsatisfied by the lack of scorn sent its way (and in fact the legitimacy conferred by the whole Academy Award thing), this article is just what we've been waiting for. David T. Hardy has done his homework, gathering together the case for the dishonesty of the movie, and presenting it along with facts and transcripts for your perusal. Other sources have made these same points in the past, but weaker. This time it's much harder to call them into doubt.

It's all good, particularly if you've been hungering for something like this ever since friends and co-workers swarmed around your cubicle keening about how funny and poignant and insightful and ingenious a documentary it was, and how the whole office should go see it, and how blah blah blah. My favorite part comes at the end of the Charlton Heston speech transcript that Hardy demonstrates to have been chopped up, spliced, rearranged, mixed with other speeches, and soundbited so as to make it sound in the movie like a defiant call to arms for the NRA against the whiny residents of Littleton:

One more thing. Our words and our behavior will be scrutinized more than ever this morning. Those who are hostile towards us will lie in wait to seize on a soundbite out of context, ever searching for an embarrassing moment to ridicule us. So, let us be mindful. The eyes of the nation are upon us today.

I guess Moore took it upon himself to make those words prophetic.

11:06 - The March of Progress


I once saw a performance by a Thomas Jefferson reenactor; speaking to the audience in character, he said that he (Jefferson) was a terrible public speaker, and that he typically wrote his speeches himself but then hired professional orators to deliver them for him; but he noted, with a wry smirk, that today the reverse is true.

But how would history have written itself if Abraham Lincoln had had access to PowerPoint?

I don't think it would have been an improvement.

10:44 - Butter that bread

On Forum this morning, the topic was a particularly nauseating one: Michael pulled up a bunch of poets and asked them all how they felt about the war and whether they thought it would possibly influence their world-shatteringly important work.

Poetry is a particularly egregious example of this; but in general, isn't it weird that art-- in almost any form-- cannot possibly be conservative or pro-war? Because then it would be simplistic and jingoistic and reek of propaganda. If you're going to do art about war, it has to be ironic and insightful-- and those things cannot coexist with straightforward agreement that war is the right path forward.

One of the poets-- a Pulitzer Prize winner, no less-- called in the following nugget:

A few weeks ago I wrote a poem that I didn't even realize would end up being so appropriate to the times... [he'd previously mentioned that he'd thought the chance of war, even just weeks ago, was very remote] ... it was about waking up to a very peaceful morning, very early, while it was still dark... and hearing the rain down in the valley, and being so thankful for this peaceful moment... and yet at the same time as this placid scene was taking place, there was this war being planned in my name by people who I had nothing to do with them being in the position they're in. And I thought, what part of me... [losing coherence] is represented by this war?

The part that lets you write sarcastic poetry and whine about the government, you nimrod.

Like it or not, half the people in the country (who voted) voted for Bush. And that was pre-9/11; his party got a massive vote of confidence in the elections last November. And now, three-quarters of the country supports the war (although that figure is contingent on UN approval). You know what that means? The war represents the will of the people. No matter what fantasy world you inhabit, no matter how much rain is falling in those valleys beneath your placid mud hut, that's the way it is.

It's a minority (albeit a very loud and obnoxious and occasionally treasonous one) that opposes the war; but the whole point of the war is to protect that minority and its right to exist-- in spite of its protests. No matter how many poems you write about how nice peace is, and how good it would be if everybody could just get along, such poetry is not the criterion that al Qaeda is scrutinizing in order to decide whether they should attack us again.

The Forum program heard poets and artists from all corners weigh in, but they all spoke with the same voice: War is bad, m'kay? If they'd managed to convince themselves that this was an original or insightful sentiment, then the state of art in this country is a pretty sorry one to begin with. Considering the chunky bits of luscious irony they kept trotting out (like Lysistrata, to which I have one word in answer: Athena), I can't say I'm impressed by the moral or intellectual consistency of what are supposed to be our most celebrated and richly rewarded creative minds.

I wonder, offhand, if there's such a thing as an artistic discipline that could be pursued in trying to create pro-war artwork that won't get dismissed as propaganda, and can instead be appreciated as Art on the same terms as the by-now-commonplace shadowy romanticized portraits of messianic figures wearing suicide belts?

09:35 - Iraq's Sterling History

Marcus just forwarded this to me-- a detailed timeline of dealings with Iraq, by the State Department, from the end of Gulf War I through 2002.

Note that it doesn't even try to implicate September 11 as an important date. Guys, we're not obsessing, all right?

Tuesday, March 18, 2003
21:35 - Counting Down

Greg Kihn at KFOX is running a "48 Hour Countdown", giving away $1000 each hour to lucky callers.

And during this period of worldwide breath-holding, it seems a lot of people are taking the opportunity to jump the fence from one side of the war debate to the other. Some formerly pro-war voices are having second thoughts; but seemingly a lot more in the anti-war camp are making their way to the pro-war side, whether with timid waves or with upper-arms-bared resolve. Now that it's down to the wire, people are starting to really think hard about matters, and decide where the facts really leave them; and when all's said and done, the polls and the blogs are bearing out that the path we're on is the right one.

Rick Bruner, for instance, just put up a post that's so good it got him InstaPundited; it'll probably jet him from complaining about his lack of feedback to the giddily freaky position of wondering feverishly how (and whether) to reduce his radar signature. He comes out, "at last", as a warblogger. And he does it with style, too: by demolishing all the anti-war arguments with facts and with reason and with wit.

One of the many money quotes:
Al Qaeda wouldn't collaborate with Saddam because they're religious zealots and he's a secular tyrant. Gimme a break. Al Qaeda demonstrated clearly in their planning for September 11th they'll do whatever it takes to smite their enemy, even if that means suffering through lapdances in the strip clubs of the Great Satan. If they can buy box cutters in our Wal-Marts, I'm sure they could suck it up to borrow a few kilos of anthrax from Saddam.

It's so good to see that all these arguments we've been tossing back and forth in the past few months, when run through the wringer of rational thought, can bring the thinker to the same conclusion no matter where on the political spectrum he originates. And if I've become sure of one thing, it's that post-9/11, the traditional political labels just don't fit anymore.

And if there's any other thing I've become sure of, it's that at the very least I know I don't want to be counted among those who wave signs that say AT LEAST SADDAM WAS ELECTED! and then jam their thumbs in their ears and go LA LA LA LA when someone tries to ply them with reasoned debate.

11:48 - Changing the World

Everybody's linking this Ann Clwyd piece, the one describing the human shredder machine and other pieces of Iraqi innovation that Chirac and others are desperate to preserve. Andrew Sullivan's response:

What Clwyd says - clearly, unforgettably, indelibly - is something that some people think is unsophisticated or crude or manipulative. What she says is that the Saddam regime is evil. I'm aware of the argument that there are many evil regimes in the world and we aren't invading to destroy all of them. But there comes a point at which such arguments say less about the world and more about the people making them. Saddam's regime is certainly one of the vilest on earth. Its malevolence and brutality is documented beyond dispute. In a world in which morality matters, the leading theologians and moralists and politicians would not be bending over backwards to find arguments to leave this regime alone, to lend credence to its lies, and to appease its poisons. They would be casting about for reasons to end it. I think that is what has given Blair his strength these past few months. He knows he's right.

And on NPR this morning, there were interviews with fleeing Iraqi citizens, packing up their belongings into wheelbarrows and heading for the hills. Why? Surely, to avoid the Americans' missiles, right? Wrong. According to the interviewees that the reporter talked to, what the Iraqis feared most in the coming days-- once the war begins-- is Saddam and the Iraqi army. Apparently the army has already been going through and spraying bullets into the various towns; the fleeing people showed the bullet holes to the interviewer. These guys never once mentioned fear of getting blown up by Americans. They fear what their own country's leadership and muscle will do to them once chaos begins to reign.

These are the kinds of things that the world has grown accustomed to just letting happen, over the past several decades. It's more humane, more culturally sensitive, more live-and-let-live to just avoid all contact with countries that exist in a state of medieval brutality. We've internalized our own postmodern Prime Directive: don't interfere, because it's not our business. They'll just end up resenting us anyway. Well, that's all going to change now.

It's time this world entered the modern age. And I mean the whole world, too, not just those privileged countries that have the luxury to make a choice about it.

11:21 - Rise Up, California

NPR this morning interviewed the very well-informed and erudite leader of the effort to infiltrate Vandenberg Air Force Base and patriotically prevent the Aerospace Command data from reaching the aircraft operating in Iraq. He had all kinds of historical facts and logistical data to support the logic behind putting thousands of American soldiers' lives and the entire precarious Iraq military enterprise at grave risk and calling it "legitimate non-violent resistance".

The lieutenant at the base that NPR interviewed afterwards made it sound as though the only thing the base would do to protect itself against treason and fifth-column activities-- even while she identified them as such-- would be to use the minimum possible necessary force to protect critical military equipment.

Emboldened by this wussiness, the protesters think they're going to be able to go in there and disrupt transmissions, block personnel movements, and throw the war effort into chaos, and all the base commanders will do is send out a spokeswoman with a clipboard to try to shoo them away.

There are going to be some dead bodies right here at home before this is over.

If anybody sane is in the area of VDB once the war gets underway, I think it would be an excellent idea to gather together and form a defense of the base-- anybody with muscles and the willingness to use them should form a shoulder-to-shoulder block in order to prevent the useful idiots from getting so far in their relentless pursuit of insanity that they end up dead. Civilians can be non-violent; the base guards won't.

A big part of what we're doing in Iraq is showing the world that we're a resolved nation, dedicated to taking swift and decisive action to neutralize the evil that caused 9/11 and remains a threat today. But every time a protest group feels so unchallenged as to stage a raid on its own country's military bases, and the "silent majority" doesn't stand up to lay them flat, that statement that we're trying to make as a nation is dulled. Do we really want the impression we leave from this conflict to be "the US military versus the US people"?

Or is California really just that far gone?

UPDATE: CapLion thinks so. Although in response to his "But don't take my word for it, just spend a few days in San Francisco..." I'd have to say that I don't have to take his word for it-- I live here. :) I just bought a house here. I signed the bleedin' papers this morning.

And while I know most of the population of California is concentrated in the cities, one shouldn't discount the massive numbers of people who live in rural areas or small towns throughout the state. I grew up in one. You're as likely to find Young Republicans or Harley dudes in any of these places as hippies-- hell, I grew up behind the Redwood Curtain, and it wasn't until I moved to Pasadena and lived next to Dabney House that I first smelled marijuana.

This may be the state that saw to Jerry Garcia's ascendancy; but it's also the state that gave us Ronald Reagan.

And with 75% of the public supporting the war (a record in recent memory!), even in the face of more-strident-than-ever protests, we would do well to remember that just because the few are louder here than elsewhere, it doesn't mean that the many deserve to be flushed. There are still a lot more of us than there are of them. Even here.

I have a better idea. Shoulder-to-shoulder block, yes. Non-violent, no. Beat them into frigging pulp.

Well, yes. I have no doubt that that's what it would come to-- these are peace activists, after all. Hardly the least violent of nature's beasts. But what I mean is, non-violently is at least how the blockade ought to start. Even if just to play out everybody's scripted role.

Monday, March 17, 2003
21:54 - Marvelous

I wish I'd caught her name-- the Environmental Minister or something, in the UK-- being interviewed by the BBC in response to the Bush speech. It went by so fast, and I was reeling from the wordplay, that I dropped it on the floor.

BBC: Do you think that once the war starts, once war is upon us, the country will rally around its Prime Minister and support the war?

M: I hope that the country will recognize the need to rally around its troops.

BBC: But then, as Robin Cook said, the leader of the House of Commons, who just resigned: it's possible to support the troops, but oppose the war...?

And her response was a deliciously acid:

M: I'm sure they'll appreciate that sophistry.

God, I love British wit and diction.

20:52 - No Anti-Aliasing For Oil

A few days back, John Gruber of Daring Fireball posted an article on one of Safari's quirks: it's too aggressive with Quartz anti-aliasing. Mac OS X's text smoothing is unparalleled, yes; but Safari ignores two aspects of the anti-aliasing model that the rest of the OS properly takes into account: 1) You're not supposed to anti-alias the very smallest fonts; and 2) You're not supposed to anti-alias monospaced fonts.

The thrust of the article is about those monospaced fonts, which Gruber rightly identifies as being useful in the modern world only for "displaying markup and programming language source code." Nothing else. Nobody wants to read text in Courier. Any plain-language text that's rendered in a monospaced font these days is done so only for satirical or legacy purposes, as to simulate a teletype or some such. It's a graphics-based world now, dagnabbit; and unless you're trying to write code or lay out tabular data for rudimentary layout/transport media such as e-mail, monospaced fonts are dumb.

But such uses do still exist; and when OS X apps like Safari try to anti-alias the monospaced fonts that I still use, it's sabotaging a paradigm that had been established way back in Mac history.

Gruber points out a particular example of why it was that the Mac has always been regarded as the prime platform for prepress and text layout. Apple has not just been the company that happened to put all its eggs in the GUI basket and shun the command-line and all its manifestations; it's also been the company that's knuckled down and set itself the task of defining how text and graphics and layout should be done on computers:

9-point Monaco is the last surviving masterpiece of the original Macintosh?s painstakingly hand-tuned set of pixel-perfect bitmap fonts, and deservedly so. Sure, it?s been tweaked in recent years (for example, to distinguish the lowercase L from the digit one, the zero from the capital O, and to enlarge certain punctuation characters, like the period, which originally was just a single pixel), but today?s Monaco 9 would look very familiar to a circa-1986 Mac programmer. Mac OS X introduced a newly refined 10-point counterpart, which feels much larger than the ostensible one-point difference from Monaco 9 would imply. Monaco 10 is also eminently readable, perhaps quite a bit more so than Monaco 9 on today?s high-resolution displays, and yet is very true to Monaco 9?s spirit.

He's got screenshots, too; he's not kidding. Monaco is a nice, nice font for monospaced applications. It's my default font for Terminal and for plain-text e-mail messages in Mail; though these are both Cocoa apps that take full advantage of Quartz rendering, they elect not to anti-alias Monaco and other monospaced fonts.

But just a few days ago, I found myself fiddling around with the prefs in Terminal; I was toggling the "anti-alias text" checkbox and watching the UNIX command-line text shift between smooth and unsmooth, between velvety OS X-y goodness and throwback, knife-edge legacy letting. And you know-- I left that little toggle switch off. The Terminal simply looks better without anti-aliasing on.

Part of it is because Monaco is so carefully tuned to look good without anti-aliasing. But I think it's just as much to do with Gruber's statement that "individual characters carry much more importance in source code than in prose. The ability to discern individual characters is more important than creating on-screen characters that more accurately reflect the style of high-resolution output." I think he's nailed it.

Safari has several kinks to work out; I'd thought that it would turn out to be the best browser at handling text since OmniWeb, since OW used the Quartz layer to its fullest potential and-- quite frankly-- rendered absolutely gorgeous text because of it. Chimera/Camino and IE, by contrast, seemed clumsy and uneven with their text handling; the kerning and leading never quite worked right. I always attributed that to the fact that IE and Camino were browsers that did their own text engines and eschewed the OS-level rendering that OmniWeb took advantage of, for whatever reason. I figured that since Safari was patently the most Cocoa browser to date, then surely it would follow the rules better than any of them. Right?

Well, not quite. How does one explain this?

Check out what happens to the leading on the lines that have italicized text in them. I've highlighted the text so you can see the excess spacing between lines; there should be no white visible. It should be an unbroken block of blue.

I've sent in this bug report already, but I'm starting to think that Safari's adherence to Cocoa standards in text handling is either inadequate, or massively overenthusiastic. I'm not at all sure which.

Incidentally-- and this is only tangentially related-- if anybody is wondering why Safari's performance in handling lots and lots and lots (e.g. hundreds) of form elements on a page is abysmal compared to other browsers such as Camino, it's evidently due to the fact that Safari's reliance on AppKit and Cocoa form widgets is biting it in the ass: AppKit and the Cocoa widgets are performance pigs. They're massively object-oriented, which we've known about forever; this is their blessing and their curse. Cocoa in its elegant architecture has enabled Apple and third-party companies to bring out more new software in less time, over the past two years, than I seem to be able to remember any other company doing in the past. Cocoa is revolutionizing the development process. But the price to be paid for that is the speed penalty that comes with OO design; OO is never as fast as highly tuned procedural code, sometimes very dramatically so. And the upshot is that Safari's performance in meter-pegging performance tests severely lags behind that of apps like Camino that sort of "cheat" and sidle around the OO structure, whether it means they lose the benefit of the OS-level rendering layers or not-- and whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I have an 800 MHz iMac here at work, and a 533 MHz PIII running Windows 2000. By any measure, megahertz-myth or no, the iMac should trounce the PC. But if I load a table-heavy page in Safari and IE on the two machines respectively, and start rapidly resizing the window, the Windows/IE contender beats the Mac flat. Why?

Two reasons: 1) IE on Windows is a kernel process; on the Mac it's squarely a userland function. Whether this is "cheating" or not is open to discussion; it certainly can't be denied that it helps boost a very complex set of functions to impossible levels of speed under Windows. But 2) OS X has the OO-ness of Cocoa to deal with, and that does cause a serious slowdown. It doesn't hurt the platform much in raw computational speed, such as in Photoshop filters or SETI@home; but when it comes to UI-intensive interactive work, Cocoa is a big drag.

Now, the good news is that the sunk cost of going to such an OO-intensive framework as Cocoa is just that-- sunk cost. It represents a fairly flat investment of CPU horsepower which will eventually be made irrelevant as the CPUs themselves improve. Just as the OS9 line was tuned to really come into its own with the G3 and especially the G4, OS X is really going to achieve UI "breakout" with the 970 and, in particular, the POWER5-based 9800 which will succeed it fairly quickly. OS X will run on G3s and G4s, but it really wants something with a bit more oomph, and machines with a bit more RAM (512MB is really a practical minimum, I've found) before the user will cease to feel trammeled by it.

What this amounts to is that yes, the Mac is slower than the PC, in many key areas; but that this is not attributable to any one factor, and each of those contributing factors is an investment made for a reason. The CPUs themselves sacrifice raw clock speed for vector processing, short pipelines, and low power. The OS sacrifices computational speed for OO-based developmental ease. The Cocoa widgets and style elements sacrifice feedback speed for looks and consistency. There's an argument to be made in favor of each of these factors; unfortunately, it's a different argument for each one, and the argument against each one has to do with-- yup-- speed.

So, once again, it's all down to "get those dang 970s here already".

And a 30-inch ACD while you're at it.

And bring me some sharks with laser beams on their heads!

13:46 - How-many-inch...?


I've been hearing this rumor over the past couple of days now, from various independent sources, all of which seem to agree:

We have been able to confirm with Apple sources that the company is indeed planning to introduce a 30-inch Cinema Display this summer, and will be dropping the price of its already impressive 23-inch model at that time.

You've got to be kidding me. Thirty inches? That's one hell of a jump in size. Either Apple's in big with some supernatural LCD maker in Taiwan that has some super-secret method for making monster-sized panels with acceptable viability rates (the biggest reason why big LCDs cost so much, traditionally, is that it's damned hard to manufacture them-- the more screen area and the more pixels, the exponentially greater the chance of unacceptable yields), or... or... I don't know any good "or".

You'd think they'd at least jump to 25" or maybe 27" first, wouldn't you? 30"... ye gods.

But if it's true, boy-howdy. Word is that this new flagship would reoccupy the $3500 price point that the original 22" Cinema Display held, and that the 23" HD Display had until a few weeks ago when Apple lowered the price unexpectedly to $2000. I remember hearing back when the 22" was new that yields were so low-- like maybe two or three viable panels in 100-- that they weren't sure they'd even be able to make a product out of it. But apparently they've got that very well under control now.

I know a few people who are probably striking a very odd pose right about now: both hands held out in front of them, fingers and thumbs in opposing "L" positions...

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© Brian Tiemann