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
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, April 25, 2003
03:02 - Crikey!
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/04/24/international01

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From yesterday's SFGate coverage of the Australian SAS takeover of one of Iraq's airfields:

"The Iraqi air force understood that it needed to stay on the ground for its own safety," said Gen. Peter Cosgrove, chief of the Australian Defense Forces, who spoke to troops at the airfield on Thursday.

The Al Asad airfield, which housed the largest known contingent of Saddam's jet fighters, represents one of the big catches of the war. Three fighter squadrons -- the bulk of the Iraqi air force -- were stationed there, 112 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The Australians say they are still taking inventory but have so far found 57 fighter aircraft, mostly Soviet-era MiGs but also three advanced MiG 25 Foxbats, the fastest combat aircraft today.

Awwh, now 'ere's a real byooty! This hyeah MiG-25 Foxbat is not awnly the fahstest critter in the skoys, it's also extremely endaynjahd. Not many of them still exist in the wuhld! Now, let's see what happens if we stick our thumb up its tahlpoyp!

(Sorry.)

(No I'm not.)


18:35 - Where Have You Gone, Paul Tatara?
http://www.flakmag.com/features/tatara.html

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Just today, it suddenly dawned on me out of the blue that I hadn't seen any movie reviews by Paul Tatara in almost a year. Tatara, I've mentioned once or twice before (though not at all lately), is one of two movie critics at CNN.com (the other being the pedestrian and downright boring Paul Clinton).

Or was, more appropriately. It turns out that Tatara, whose reviews were always immensely fun, academic, well-informed, highly discriminating, conversational, dynamic, and often uproariously funny, is no longer working for CNN-- and hasn't been since mid-2002, after what was ostensibly a contract dispute. And now, when I go to CNN's movie-reviews site, I find that not only isn't Paul Clinton filling the rolls with his fourth-grade-book-report drudgery, but nobody really is-- that is, nobody with a name. CNN only links to movie reviews by their titles, now, rather than by the name of the reviewer. And apparently that was the point.

From 1997 to 2001, Tatara appeared frequently, as often as 16 times a month, along with the critic who actually appeared on TV, Paul Clinton. In 2002, his workload suddenly dropped to, at most, five reviews a month. There were times in the past that CNN.com editors had told Tatara that the higher-ups weren't loving his work, and more and more the site was relying on Entertainment Weekly, its sister AOL Time Warner publication.

"There were always periods, after nine months or so, when someone would raise a stink about the tone of writing being too conversational, too harsh, too, too, too," says Tatara, who is not speaking in exclamation points at this moment. He's just warming up.

"Especially with the conversational tone. They wanted me to be faceless!"

"It could be that [CNN's] blood pressure was higher, because the site wasn't making money! I had a real readership, but they couldn't care less! They weren't allowing people any real personality! At this point, [CNN] is like the Kmart of news services, and instead of a news flash, they should have a Blue Light Special!"

And that's not all. Apparently the final straw was Tatara's December 2001 review of Black Hawk Down, which, admittedly, I allowed to inform my presuppositions of the movie when I bitched about it last year. (In my defense, it was Super Bowl day, and I was in no mood to be given a good impression by anything.) Since then, I've been set straight by friends and co-conspirators who shared Ollie North's opinion that the widespread panning of the movie by Tatara and others as a clumsy, nuance-free splatterfest was grossly unfair-- that the movie was actually astonishingly accurate to real life, and the jarring nature of its graphic scenes and the perceived bestial brutality of the Somali mobs was not exaggerated out of any appeal to bloodthirsty racism. Rather, the movie was just too honest for most of today's sophisticates to accept without a layer of wry Apocalypse Now wit and commentary and mythic storytelling. Real life doesn't play like a movie script-- and because BHD doesn't seem to have much of what's traditionally thought of as a well-constructed, sophisticated plot just means it's true to real life instead of to Hollywood expectations.

Anyway, so evidently CNN didn't like Tatara's review of BHD; and over the next several months they phased him out in favor of less-controversial writers. (I always thought there had to be some story behind the disclaimer/footers he attached to so many of his reviews: Warner Bros. is an AOL Time Warner sister company of CNN.com. Probably not put there voluntarily, eh, Paul?) CNN now has its wish: a parade of anonymous movie reviewers from AP and other random sources, filling billets without injecting any of that unwanted personality. Paul's last review, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, was on June 7. After that, he resigned and returned to his first love: screenwriting.

Which means he won't be doing any more reviewing, though he's apparently looking for review work. All his old reviews are still online at the Paul Tatara Movie Review Archive, which has the text of his resignation letter, as well as the assurance that the man's reviews were loved by a great many people, something I had suspected but not known for sure. I'd become a disciple of his work totally on my own; there's nothing like discovering that what you'd thought was a personal treasured secret is actually the basis of Internet fan sites.

Maybe Paul should blog his reviews. Yeah, he wouldn't be getting paid for them; but if he enjoys doing it, hey, it should be pretty obvious that there are lots of people out here who will write tons of drivel every day for no tangible profit and at the expense of our day jobs and social lives. C'mon, Paul-- you've still got fans out here. And there's movie after movie going un-reviewed-by-you. This cannot be allowed to stand.

Geez... that was about the easiest piece of online research I've ever had to do. URLs practically hurled themselves at me.

Thursday, April 24, 2003
22:57 - More Radio Fun

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Whenever I leave work earlier than 7:00 PM, I get to hear what's on NPR before Fresh Air comes on-- which in this case is Pacific Time. Usually it's fairly benign, but there's always the strange air of some shadowy patronage behind it. It's always just a little too cheerful, a little too starched.

Today, when the radio came on, it was on a report of an Asian Hip-Hop Festival taking place in LA; it talked about the various rappers whose oeuvre spanned English, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean, and played a few samples. Good clean fun.

Then it mentioned that all the proceeds from the concert were to go to a relief charity for the North Korean people. "We want to send the message that we want food, not bombs, in North Korea," one youth said. From the tone of the show, it was decidedly unclear whose bombs he was talking about-- Kim's, or ours? The events of the past few months have conditioned me to assume always that when young activists get together to raise support for a cause involving a part of the world that we're taking an interest in, for whatever reason, it's damned seldom that said cause is aligned with US foreign policy.

One guy did say, in fact, that the Asians in the communities putting on the event do blame US foreign policy over the past fifty years, in part, for the situation in North Korea. (At least they were good enough to allow the in part part.) And then he delivered the real corker, proving wryly that the show must have been taped a couple of days ago at least: that he and his compatriots hoped that the trilateral talks this week between the US, NK, and China, would lay the groundwork for the relief and disarmament that North Korea and its people so desperately need.

Boy, that's really worked out well, hasn't it?


19:35 - What a Learjet buys us
http://www.thinksecret.com/news/shareholdersmeeting03.html

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Some of the questions-and-answers from today's Apple shareholders' meeting are pretty entertaining (forwarded by Kris):

-An inquiry about proposal one, re-electing the board of directors, asked if there really was any choice at all in the re-election of the board, since Apple's shareholder notice notes "The six nominees for director receiving the highest number of affirmative votes of the shares entitled to be voted for them shall be elected as directors." There were a total of six nominees. Heinen said that people did have the option of not voting. Jobs then commented that he received 83% of the votes to be re-elected, the highest second to Al Gore who received over 90%. Gore added, "Does it matter who has the most votes?" which sent the crowd into laughter.

-A person expressed concern over dealership contract renewal . Cook responded saying that dealerships representing less than 0.2% of Apple's revenue didn't re-sign. He also said that some dealerships re-signed after the deadline, and that the number of signed-on dealerships will only go up with time. Jobs added, humorously, that 100% of the Apple Retail stores decided to renew their contracts.

-A woman asked about increasing market share, and what steps to take if one identified possible large corporate sales opportunities for Apple. Fielding the second question first, Jobs made Cook provide his e-mail address to shareholders, so that he could handle their suggestions about enterprise sales opportunities -- tcook@apple.com. Fred Anderson then answered the first question explaining that the Switch campaign has been working, and that among the consumer segment Apple has doubled its market share, based on information from IDC.

-The acquisition of Virtual PC by Microsoft was raised by one shareholder. Jobs said that Apple's relationship with Microsoft is good and that Microsoft likes Safari. He also noted that VPC has been moved to the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft and that Microsoft acquired the software not so that it could get VPC itself, but its underlying technology. Jobs said Apple has talked with Microsoft, and Microsoft promises to continue the software. Jobs also suggested that the price might drop since royalties on Windows no longer have to be paid.

Hyuck, hyuck, Al. That's one helluva shareholder mandate he seems to have gotten, though.

I'm sure there's a good reason for him to be on Apple's board. Otherwise why would all these people have voted for him?

I mean, there's got to be, right?

Wait a minute. Doubled its market share? You've gotta be kidding me.

What, we're up to 2% now?



16:22 - Ebert on Moore, War, and More
http://www.progressive.org/radio/ebertransc.html

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Judson forwards me this transcript of a Progressive Radio interview with Roger Ebert. It's interesting... last month I'd pegged Ebert as a guy who seemed to have a good, sane perspective on big world issues, even if he did lean left ('scuse me, progressive). And I do still think that; I'm just not as sure how well this interview bolsters that opinion.

It starts off with Ebert's analysis of Moore's Oscar-acceptance speech, and weirdly enough he critiques it-- discussing ways in which Moore's acting performance behind the podium could have been better, how he could have gotten his important message out more effectively and countered the booing. Not a word about the factual idiocy of Bowling For Columbine, of course; it's as though that one thirty-second window in human history following Moore's wrapping his meaty hand around the little gold guy was the One Big Chance the world would have to broadcast the all-important message that Bush is a fictitious president promoting a fictitious war. He seems genuinely disappointed that Moore blew it-- that history could have turned out differently if only Moore hadn't hunched over the podium or spoken so quickly and huntedly. Also this didn't help:

Nevertheless, I agree with what he said. I don't think Bush was legitimately elected President. But I was very offended as a reporter when Michael came directly back to the pressroom where I was, along with 300 or 400 other reporters, and lectured us, "Now do your job. Don't report it was a divided house. Only five loud people were booing."
Do your job, he says. Don't stifle dissent. Moore would have made an excellent "minder" under Saddam.

The remainder of the interview is fairly interesting-- it's got a very hopeless tone to it, but then maybe that's just me projecting a post-war sense of relief and snarky cynicism onto a March 30 interview. If nothing else, we get a much broader cross-section of Ebert's views here (evidently he considers Sean Penn to be the best actor of his generation, and bemoans the unfair right-wing reactions to his and Sarandon's and the Dixie Chicks' statements-- hey, did you know that Ebert gets only long, thoughtful essays from liberals, but nothing but terse dismissive vitriol from conservatives? Who's been writing to this guy?). I'm not sure where he gets his impressions of Bush as a televangelist standing in a beam of light from a stained-glass window, receiving pronouncements from Heaven and acting on them without thought or debate, especially considering the world we live in where that does happen every week-- just not in the White House. It's another set of moral-relativism blinders, where only the mildest of religious inspiration is to be condemned here at home, but genuine insane genocidal raving from religious leaders elsewhere in the world is just hunky-dory, because hey, everybody but us is entitled to free practice of their customs. Ebert doesn't seem to feel it necessary to address the multiple sides of the argument-- maybe it's because of the nature of the organization doing the interviewing, but the timbre of the whole thing is so dispirited you'd think they were conducting the interview while clasped consolingly in each other's arms.

I still think he's a well-reasoned individual and capable of plenty of rational thought, but I'm having my doubts as to the selection of the battles he's choosing to fight.


12:44 - Piling On
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/39/30360.html

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Andrew Orlowski at The Reg has a more in-depth speculative article on Apple's "piles" concept. It's not very well edited ("pros and cones"?), but a good read nonetheless. It sounds like this idea goes back way farther than the 2001 date the eWeek article suggests.

The paper describes "Piles" as an adjunct to the file/folder metaphor, in the paper (co-authored with Richard Mander and Yin Yin Wong). A clue is in the title, which describes piles as a metaphor for "supporting casual organization of information".

Piles were seen as complementary to the folder filing system, which was used more for archiving than grouping recently used, but related documents. "The folder as the sole container type presents an impoverished set of possibilities," the authors noted.

"There are different aspects to Piles," Solomon told us today. "They are a visual representation, but also helping them organize things, as a way to make suggestions. There are fuzzy edges - the computer is presenting you with 'what if?' questions on a pile of stuff.

This would be helped indexing of the contents of documents in real time, much as BeOS' BFS file system indexed metadata attributes in real time using a dedicated system thread. BFS designer Dominic Giampaulo joined Apple last year, and the rumor circuit has consistently suggested that better threading is a priority for the Panther update to MacOS X. Which suggests that Apple has both the will and know-how to provide a system capable of supporting very rich Piles.

If that's the direction in which all of last year's mysterious employee-and-technology-acquisition rumors have turned out to point, then I'm really looking forward to seeing this in action.

(Oh, and check out the al-Sahhaf joke they've managed to work in on their site. It's the vertical banner ad at the right, but it rotates.)

Thanks to Matt for spotting this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003
22:11 - The Unconquerable Made-Up Mind

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Fresh Air with Terry Gross tonight had as a guest Jonathan Schell, author of The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People. I don't know anything about this author, other than that the people who bought his book from Amazon.com also bought books by Gore Vidal and Susan Sontag, so I can render a guess as to the bent of his opinion.

Which, during the course of the few bits of the conversation that I heard at stop lights (I had the radio turned down so I could ponder more important things, like what video rental places might still have Nerds Ropes), appeared to be that the war in Iraq is a demonstration of the new US attitude toward conquering the world, which we would never be able to do because of the indomitable will of whatever people we try to subjugate with our reversals of worldwide masterpieces of diplomacy like the ABM treaty and our new decision to solve the problems of WMD with force and aggression and pre-emption rather than with words.

Terry actually challenged him on that, saying that wasn't the whole point of this war that treaties and diplomacy had failed? And he stuttered for a bit, seemingly taken aback; but then he went off on a tirade that went something like this (I'm not quoting exactly, but this is as closely as I can recall it):

At least North Korea publicly stated that they were backing out of the ABM treaty; we, instead, have simply reversed our policy, and are re-arming for a new nuclear-armed world. Our people at STRATCOM are seeking out and designating new nuclear targets in Iraq and elsewhere as we speak. And the Bush administration made a statement early in this war that said that if the Iraqis should use chemical or biologcal weapons against the American troops, then we would use "any force necessary" in response-- which, of course, is diplomatese for "nuclear weapons". And we should also realize that the US is more aggressively developing nuclear weapons today than ever before; now we've got these so-called "bunker busters", which, uh, can take out certain underground installations. These "bunker busters" are nuclear weapons which further demonstrate that the US is committed to a double standard regarding weapons of mass destruction and who should be permitted to use them.

Gee. Really? We dropped four of these puppies on a restaurant and turned it into a rubble-and-Saddam-parts-filled crater, and the buildings right next to it were barely damaged. Damn, that's what our nukes can do these days?

This guy has not the faintest idea what "bunker busters" are, and he's writing books about war and diplomacy and going on NPR to talk about them to audiences of millions. What's wrong with this picture?

Maybe I should order a transcript of this show; there's probably lots more juicy material in there to work with.

UPDATE: Hmm. But then, as Matt tells me, there's the RNEP, a nuclear version of exsting bunker-busters that is apparently being developed. Somehow, though, I suspect that this only makes Schell correct by accident...

UPDATE: Actually Schell talked about the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, not the ABM treaty; my bad. The stream of the interview is here; the part I was paraphrasing above is between 16:30 and 20:00.

Hey, c'mon, it was from memory.


19:33 - Boutique Snowboarding
http://www.apple.com/ipod/burton/

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Neato. Apparently there's a custom-designed snowboarding jacket co-created by Apple and Burton Snowboards which integrates with the iPod for that total digital downhill experience.

There's a pocket on the breast for the iPod itself, and you hook it up via the remote/headphone jack to a panel in the left wrist so you can control the playback via buttons under touch-sensitive fabric. And the headphones are presumably integrated into the hood.

$499, eh? And Glenn Reynolds is skeptical that some people would die for their iPods. You know not the depth of our devotion, my friend.


13:48 - Irreproducible Results

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Blast! I can't get it to happen again, so I can't get a screenshot to prove this. But I swear it happened!

A little background: about a month ago, I sent in feedback to the iSync team to suggest that iSync should automatically synchronize Safari's bookmarks between Macs. I mean, wouldn't that rock? Having all your bookmarks available and consistent no matter which computer you're on? I know I'd love that.

Anyway, there haven't been any updates to iSync lately; it wasn't even revised in the 10.2.5 OS update. And Safari's only major revision lately, Beta 2 or v73, only talks about miscellaneous bug fixes and tabbed browsing.

But just now, I went into my bookmarks pane to add a new folder; when I clicked on the [+] at the bottom, I got a dialog box that said: "iSync is currently synchronizing your bookmarks. Please wait until the synchronization process is complete before modifying your bookmarks." (Or words to that effect.)

The thing is, iSync wasn't syncing at the time... and it hadn't done so in the past half-hour. And after I did a manual sync, on this machine and on my laptop, the respective machines' browsers still had their local complements of bookmarks, unchanged.

I think I tripped a piece of code in a new feature they may be putting in. Namely iSynchronization of Safari bookmarks, just as I'd hoped.

If not, that's a hell of a specific dialog box to hide in the browser as a prank...!

UPDATE: James Sentman and John Weidner both report having sighted this mystery dialog box. It appears to have nothing to do, behaviorally, with iSync itself; it's just a ghost at this stage.

And a rather poorly worded ghost at that.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003
03:26 - Peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=6337_Peaceful_Religion_Watch

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Charles Johnson has gathered together this week's crop of rantings and ravings from the highest authorities of the planet Krikkit. Reality is taking its time to sink in, but the timbre seems to be changing a little bit, subtly. I'm not yet sure whether it's for the better or the worse.

Shaykh Ibrahim Mudayris delivers the sermon, which he begins by saying: "O people of Palestine, O steadfast people on the land of beloved Palestine, I know that your hearts are bleeding painfully over what happened in Iraq. I know that your hearts were wounded by the fall of Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate. But, the fall of Iraq does not mean that we will give up our resoluteness and bow to the enemies of God. The quick dramatic events that led to the fall of Baghdad remind us of the Monguls, who entered Baghdad and overwhelmed it in a matter of hours. History repeats itself. That was caused by treason. And today's events smack of treason. But, O God's subjects, it is early to distinguish the traitor from the victim of treason. My fellow preachers and friends blamed some figures for treason and other things. But, I say from here: O people, O God's subject, you must wait until the facts become clear. We are sure that Baghdad was delivered and that it did not surrender. The whole issue smacks of treason. But, was Saddam the head of treason, or was he the victim of this treason?

Sigh. To quote Lileks once more, whatever.

The more I see these hysterical sermons seeking ever more far-fetched justifications for the Americans' inexplicable success and condemnations of the genocidal designs of the bloodthirsty Crusaders, the more I'm reminded of Grandpa Simpson tottering around, pointing at birdbaths and shrieking DEEEEAAAATH!


18:14 - My Mac's Got Piles
http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,3959,1036539,00.asp

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Hey, this is interesting. EWeek has scooped some info on OS X 10.3, codenamed "Panther"; we've known about several of its included features for a little while now, such as 64-bit support, multiple simultaneous GUI user logins, document sync with PDAs and other computers, and the usual performance boosts. But apparently there's more-- and not just of the "Hey, look, more iDoodads!" variety.

They said User at the Center features will make it simpler for individual users to personalize their computing experience and to move seamlessly among Macs and other devices. And as a marketing strategy, Panther's User at the Center capabilities are intended to challenge user-centric capabilities of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP as well as its forthcoming "Longhorn" client.

"User At the Center" is evidently a new design paradigm, tied in with the document-sync stuff (probably involving iSync to some degree), but from the language here it's a much more sweeping change to the user experience. There's also this:

In addition, sources said Panther will finally mark the debut of the much-discussed "piles" GUI design concept, which Apple patented in June 2001. According to the patent, piles comprise collections of documents represented graphically in stacks. Users can browse the "piled" documents dynamically by pointing at them with the cursor; the filing system can then divide a pile into subpiles based on each document's content. At the user's request, the filing system can automatically file away documents into existing piles with similar content.

Back when the original Mac OS was being developed-- that is, System 1, back during the Xerox PARC idea-sharing era-- Apple had yet to decide on just how the "Desktop" metaphor would look. The now-familiar ideas of a menu bar at the top of the screen, disk volumes down the right, and folders and documents that you could pull out and scatter around the 2-D space were not by any means the obvious direction Apple was planning to take things. I'm told that one of the front-runner metaphors for file organization, prior to the PARC trip (though the Alto's influence was in other areas than this), was a "stack" of paper-- seen from the side, piled up the left-hand side of the screen. The pile would grow taller as you used and created more documents, and the most recently used ones would be at the top. You would browse your document history by rolling your mouse up and down the stack; each file would flip up and present its icon under your cursor. Almost a Dock, in a way; and bear in mind, this was circa 1982.

(See David K. Every's Mac UI History page for clarifications on the origins of the Mac's user interface and the whole PARC thing.)

One reason why the "stack" metaphor wasn't satisfying was that it was date-based, rather than spatial; it was an incarnation of the "diary" metaphor, in which the user sees his data in time rather than in space. Unfortunately, as Lileks described so well last Wednesday, such a metaphor is butt. Humans think in spatial terms, not temporal terms. I'm much more likely to remember that such-and-such a file was in the blue folder over here in the corner, than to remember that I'd last used it on October 14, or that last time I looked, it was about twenty documents down from the top of the the ever-changing stack.

So what's this new "piles" thing? Is it a reiteration of the "diary" metaphor? I hope not; it's never been an idea that's worked well. Is it, instead, just another way of grouping data, with weird advanced semantics for associating files on the merit of their content or type? Interesting, if so... I'll definitely be looking forward to the screenshots as soon as insiders start leaking them to Think Secret.

It's hard to imagine them coming up with a worse name for a revolutionary new feature, though. (Microsoft doesn't fail me, though: apparently WinXP's successor, Longhorn, has something called a "shingleprint".)

UPDATE: Here's a Flash mock-up of the "piles" concept in action, by Richard Das. Damn, that's cool! I want it!

Thanks to Paul for the tip.



15:40 - Whiteboard of DOOM

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The latest update:



Yeah, that's appetizing.

Oh, and I don't think I ever posted these two:




13:01 - The pain... the pain!
http://www.lordsoftherhymes.com

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Go you and behold the music video at this site: "Lords of the Rhymes". Hizobbits in the hizouse, and they can bust a linno.



It's worth it just to hear A Elbereth Gilthoniel in rap format.

Pain like this can only be assuaged by passing it on.

Monday, April 21, 2003
03:56 - A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
http://atimes.com/atimes/Korea/ED22Dg01.html

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What was that joke about how Heaven is where the cooks are French, the police are British, the lovers are Italian, the mechanics are German, and it's all run by the Swiss; whereas Hell is where the cooks are British, the police are German, the lovers are Swiss, the mechanics are French, and it's all run by the Italians?

(Oh yeah, I guess that's what that joke was.)

Anyway-- what is it when Iraq and Iran are jointly in charge of the Conference on Disarmament, and Libya is in charge of the Human Rights Commission-- only to have that position wrestled away by China and North Korea?

I'm told it's known as the UN, but I think I'll call it TEH SUCK.

(Via Corsair the Rational Pirate.)


20:24 - Well, that sure explains a lot
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/04/22/ngall22.xml&sSheet=/

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Via LGF; this one's a real barn-burner.

George Galloway, the Labour backbencher, received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least 375,000 British pounds a year, according to Iraqi intelligence documents found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.

A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme.

He also said that Mr Galloway was profiting from food contracts and sought "exceptional" business deals. Mr Galloway has always denied receiving any financial assistance from Baghdad.

Asked to explain the document, he said yesterday: "Maybe it is the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture. Maybe The Daily Telegraph forged it. Who knows?"

Siphoning money off the oil-for-food program and then railing bitterly against the sanctions that were killing Iraqi babies; accepting blood pay and then doing everything a back-bench MP can do to derail the war effort and keep Saddam in power. It just doesn't get much more despicable than this.

If this war accomplishes nothing more than smoking out all those Western politicians who are in the back pockets of the worst dictatorial regimes the modern world has to offer, it'll have been a resounding success on that strength alone.

Begone, Gríma Wormtongue!

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© Brian Tiemann