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
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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
Saturday, September 6, 2003
01:05 - Out of the fog
http://northcoastjournal.com/090403/cover0904.html

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Via InstaPundit-- a soldier's report from Iraq, including his stupefaction at finding upon his return home that all the news reports we've been seeing here have been so negative.

THE QUESTIONS I GET FROM A LOT OF PEOPLE HERE ARE, "What's going on over there? Why is there so much fighting? Why do the Iraqi people hate us so much?" When I first heard that, that's when I realized that the news was not proportionate to what was going on in the country.

I was in eight or nine cities in Iraq. Starting from Kuwait, we saw pretty much every city along the river on the way to Baghdad. People absolutely loved us everywhere we went. There were big parades. We'd just roll down the streets, or sometimes be on foot patrol, and kids would run out of their houses just to wave at us, just to get a wave back from us. People would give us flowers; they'd give us flowers and gifts and Pepsi -- all kinds of stuff.

I'd have people come up to me and say, "What took you so long? You should have done this in '91!" Especially when we were in Baghdad. We were in this huge building, with a huge fence around it. I'd have a lot of people -- especially the elderly guys -- telling me, "I was tortured under this building for 12 or 14 years," or, "There's torture chambers under here." So we went down and checked it out, and sure enough, there were torture chambers under there -- basically an entire block, underground, with cells and everything else.

This is particularly interesting to me because it's appearing in the North Coast Journal-- the main newspaper in Arcata, the Hippiest Place on Earth, from where this soldier hails. While I was up there for the Kinetic Sculpture Race in May, the attitude was one of such post-war seething that I had the impression I'd have had my car vandalized if I'd been there a couple of months earlier. This is a place where newspaper vending boxes in front of supermarkets are covered with scrawls of "LIES" and glass display cases showing documents like the Bill of Rights and the abolition of slavery are plastered over with strident anti-war handbills. And the North Coast Journal, naturally, reflected the tenor of the place.

For this kind of story to appear there now must be horribly galling to the residents. I'll bet there will be protests outside their offices on Monday calling for the ouster of whatever Rupert Murdoch flunky has forcibly taken over the paper and printed such blatant propaganda to spread over their town.

It should be noted, however, that this kind of story is very, very typical; I've read a dozen or so of them, and to a man they all say, "Wait a minute. What the hell has the news been telling you all this time?"

It's taking its time, but the establishment of a free press in post-war America continues apace.


00:42 - Stupid fat lazy Americans

(top)
I heard on the news last night that there was a new health study out.

Oh great, I thought. I can't wait to hear how I'm going to die this time.

But that wasn't it at all. Just the opposite, in fact. The findings of the study were that in the past ten years in the US, there's been a massive decline in the number of restaurant patrons ordering dessert.

And the reason? Nothing to do with health concerns, it seems. It's all because Americans just don't have the time for it anymore. People cited in the study said they're working more hours than they were ten years ago, and though they're making more money, they have less time to linger over food.

And it's not just restaurants, either. Frozen dinner manufacturers have apparently changed their offerings to match the new buying patterns; and whereas ten years ago nearly all frozen dinners included some sort of dessert item, now only like 15% do.

What to make of this? I don't know, but with unions striking in Europe to try to get 30-hour workweeks and smoking still a ubiquitous thing from Lisbon to St. Petersburg, I'm starting to think that maybe the reason why I don't see as many morbidly obese people trundling down the streets as the news normally leads me to believe there should be is that they're all inside making documentaries.

Friday, September 5, 2003
01:16 - Pleasant Surprises

(top)
I was about in the mood for some good news today. Fortunately, fate conspired to bring me some.

First of all, we were coming back from lunch, when we saw this:



And I thought, hmm-- what happened to the G5 banner? Is the G5 passé already? And that's an awfully weird iPod ad; very un-Apple in a way. No "real people", no richly lit real-world scenarios like what Apple's ads have all been lately. This one's designy, modern, subtle, urban-hip. Very nice, really. Just... different.

That in itself wasn't the good news I mentioned. Just weird. I resolved to check the Apple site when I got back to the office, to see if there was some new iPod promo that warranted eclipsing the G5. (There wasn't.)

But as we got on De Anza southward, and passed the octagonal anchor-building in the little mini-mall right across the boulevard from the Apple Campus where Elite Computers by Computerware, formerly Elite Computers, had once stood (only to shut its doors for good about six months ago, inexplicably, after having bought out the whole Bay Area-wide 20-year-old ComputerWare chain that had shut its doors about a year before and subseqently built up and expanded aggressively, only to suddenly implode one day), we saw this:



What? What? You've got to be kidding me!

What is this-- some kind of absurd practical joke? Has Apple started putting up little billboard banners of its own, in abandoned buildings, just because it can? Have they taken up the task of posting banners of new products right where Elite always used to do it, as a kind of goofy nostalgia or sick parody? What does "G5 in stock" mean-- there's an empty, darkened showroom with a stack of G5s sittng in the middle, with a sign saying "Leave your money on the table"?

We hung a right, pulled in, and went inside. Actually, we weren't far off. The showroom was mostly empty, manned by a couple of characters I'd never seen before. They had set up a couple of Elite's old display stands, the iMac and the 14" iBook, right near the door. Otherwise, though, the floor was eerily bare. They smiled from the island, tiredly, like they weren't in any mood to answer the question, "What, you're back?" for the nine zillionth time today.

"The chain has been bought out," they said, "By Executron." You mean the guys from Santa Rosa? I'd pegged them as dying back in 1993! But no, there they are! Same old location. And now apparently they've resurrected the ComputerWare name once again! It's the Brand That Would Not Die! Its long, long history of serving Silicon Valley's Mac needs will not be interrupted. Not for more than a few months, anyway.

But there in the back was a G5. And let me tell you, this thing will be the subject of some pretty intense photo-blogging when mine gets here, because it is a monster. It's a work of art, in numerous different ways. I can't even begin to describe how unlike every other computer it is. So I won't even try, until I have the pictures to back it up.

But that's today's news. We took our leave with the assurance that we'd be visiting often in the future, and somehow the world seemed a little brighter again.


19:08 - Dumb puppy, or soundbite salad?
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/004023.php#comments

(top)
According to Tim Blair, some of his commenters, and a USA Weekend article, Johnny Depp's "dumb, dangerous puppy" comments were taken wildly out of context and/or completely reworded. Or he gave two totally different interviews. I'm not sure which.

Instead he fell in love, first with Paradis and then with his adopted country. He says he is shocked by the gun violence in American schools and feels it is far safer raising a family in France.

"I was very lucky that something steered me to France back in '98," he says of his decision to make a movie with Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski in 1998. "I love America -- I love going back, seeing my family and friends -- but it's wonderful to get back to France and be living in a tiny village with nothing around. There is still the possibility to live a simple life. You can go to the market, walk about, buy fruits and vegetables -- the things they did 100 and 200 years ago. We have moments when we're sitting in our house and our kids are playing, and we look at one another and think, 'Thank God we escaped.' "

A product of the rural South who spent many years in Hollywood, Depp never really felt at home until he moved to France. He rejects the view that there has been a surge of anti-Americanism there because of opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and he believes the French people have behaved in a dignified manner while some Americans have resorted to "schoolyard tactics" by renaming French fries "freedom fries."

"That was so revealing, that grown men sat around and came up with that idea," he says of the freedom fries initiative. "It was tragic and embarrassing. At the same time, I was happy it was exposed, and people knew that a bunch of congressmen -- big people, the upper-drawer people -- made that decision."

He also was not convinced by the Bush administration's rationale for the war. He says the real reason was America's economic interests. "I saw these American kids being shipped off to war, and I was looking at their faces and thinking, 'They're not ready for it,' " he says. "Is anybody ever ready for it? You're thinking about where they're going, what they're getting into. What's it really all about? It's about dough; it's about money. That's ugly."

So he wasn't deliberately lying, then; he's just on the clueless side. He prefers walking to market with a basket on his head, and that's fine. He thinks the war in Iraq was all about money, which is a new and interesting angle, well-thought-out and bound to upset many political theorists' theses. "Freedom fries" were cooked up by Congress, apparently. That's not the way I remember it, but hey.

If this is the extent to which his commentary reached, it definitely falls more into the "par for the course" category than the "Ha-haah, Orlando Bloom and I shall conquer every 14-year-old female American's heart, and then turn them all against their leaders in a mad cackling swarm of furies in baggy pants and glowsticks!" category.

That's good. It would have sucked never seeing Fear & Loathing again.


18:54 - GTI Outta Here
http://www.vw.com/gti/

(top)
I tell you, it's dangerous for me to go to the VW dealer.

I was there picking up my car after its O2-sensor ordeal-- which isn't technically over, by the way; they still haven't found a catalytic converter in the continental United States, and though my case entry has little red flags and overnight-ship requests and CAR DOWN! CAR DOWN! sirens all over it in the database, there's still no sign that one is forthcoming. But they did determine that the cat was most probably hosed because of the faulty O2 sensor (D'oh-- stupid sensor!), and not the other way around, and so it was safe for me to pick up the car and drive it until the cat comes in. Phew-boy.


But while I was there waiting for the car to emerge from the hoser-downer garage, found myself staring at this: the GTI 20th Anniversary Edition. $28K (with hefty dealer markup) gets you the 1.8T engine, this zany yellow paint, custom metal rocker panels and armrest inserts and dash paneling, Recaro seats, rear lip spoiler (to help keep those rear wheels on the road, see), racing pedals, gorgeous gauges, and (best of all) a six-speed manual that as I played with it on the showroom floor, I could hear snicking into place somewhere deep under the hood. Snappiest shifter I've felt outside a Ferrari F355. And dammit, I found myself thinking about loan terms and monthly payments and stuff.

I had to get out of there.

Heaven help me, I was even starting to look at the Touareg with a favorable eye. You sit down in the driver's seat, and you feel like you're on the bridge of the Heart of Gold, with is excitingly chunky curvaceous surfaces and control panels still in cellophane wrappers. Controls rise to meet your fingers. You stare straight ahead into the welcome screen of a digital display branded for the car and its theme (sand dunes and the like). VW has vaulted straight into the luxury market, somehow, and is competing now-- favorably-- with SUVs from Mercedes and BMW.

And for the record, VW's website has some of the most unspeakably beautiful Flash-animated interfaces I've seen anywhere. if the Touareg is the Heart of Gold's bridge, the VW.com site is the same bridge after its nigh-infinitely improbable transformation that escaped the missile defense system over Magrathea. It's just plain good. I can see getting sucked in there for days, only to emerge startled at the other end with a new lease agreement and no clothes.

I definitely had to get out of there.

So anyway, I paid for the half-done repair job and said hello once again to my trusty old (hey, c'mon, it's still new! Sort of!) Jetta, with its dusty wheel wells and its fingernail marks under the door pulls and the faded graduation tassel on the rear-view mirror, and I was pleased to note that it still had a faint new-car smell. After four years, it's still clinging to the memory of those first few giddy weekends. And as the pedal went down, I did notice that the rough idle is gone now. It's back to the way it likes to be.

Hammer down, back to work.

And that's when I notice that where three weeks ago I had found several large piles of bird crap on the rear decklid, and had vowed to get the service done soon so I could have them wash it off (instead of cleverly taking it to the hand-wash place and then the service place, having the mechanics slop muddy water on top of my still-gleaming wax job, as I usually manage to do), there was now a series of unsightly round spots.

I got some wet rags and tried to wipe them off. No good. They're on there fast.

Or it's permanent acid damage.

I've got to get out of here.

Thursday, September 4, 2003
21:44 - Has the whole world gone insane, or is it just me?
http://fox40.trb.com/news/ktxl-090203driverslicense,0,6207551.story?coll=ktxl-news-1

(top)
Hark! What's this I hear?

SACRAMENTO -- A bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers' licenses, an issue that has worked its way into the debate surrounding the attempt to recall Gov. Gray Davis, passed the state Assembly on Tuesday.

...

Davis has vetoed two similar bills since he became governor, citing law enforcement's concerns about the legislation. After he vetoed the bill last year, the Legislature's Latino caucus refused to endorse him for re-election.

Last month, at an anti-recall rally in Los Angeles, the governor said he would sign the latest bill "in a heartbeat" if it reached his desk.

Which I'm sure will go over real well with legal immigrants, who worked their asses off for years and spent tons of money because they knew that going through proper legal channels was the right thing to do.

Or maybe not. After all, this is being identified as a play for the Latino vote-- and after all, Latinos who are illegal can't vote. But the legal ones can. So I guess they must expect full support from that quarter.

But if you can get a license even if you enter the state illegally, what the hell's the point of doing it legally?!

So what about the Feds, then? Isn't a driver's license supposed to be a valid form of legal identification throughout the States? And what about insurance? It's required by law. Can illegal immigrants get insurance?

Why try to pass this law? Is some significant portion of traffic accidents caused by illegal immigrants? Would giving them driver's licenses magically make them better drivers? If one gets pulled over, is he really going to let the cop do a background check?

Why is it that everybody always hears the cute fluffy word immigrant, but never hears the big stern meaningful word illegal? (I note this news story even whites it out and replaces it with undocumented. Undocumented is good! Undocumented means plays-by-his-own-rules! Undocumented means innovative!)

In short, just what the bloody hell does Davis think he's playing at?

Like that needs to be answered.

You know, I've been lukewarm on this whole recall business all along. I don't like political machinations that smack of "votes of no confidence". You casts your vote and you takes your chances, and then you try again four years later.

But this is just ridiculous. We need to get that moron out of office, and I mean stat.

But you know what's even worse? All the recall candidates agree with the bill.

All except one. (Guess who?)

Go get 'em, Arnie.

UPDATE: Or McClintock.



18:51 - Tell me this isn't happening
http://reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyID=3357051

(top)
Orwell was an optimist.

Prokofiev's version ends with Peter capturing the wolf and leading a triumphant procession to the zoo, paining music-loving environmentalists with romantic visions of wolves in the wild.

In the new version, narrated by former U.S. president Clinton and called Wolf Tracks, Peter again captures the wolf, but this time repents of his act and releases the animal, who howls a grateful goodbye.

"Forgetting his triumph, Peter thought instead of fallen trees, parched meadows, choked streams, and of each and every wolf struggling for survival," Clinton narrates.

"The time has come to leave wolves in peace," he adds.

French composer Jean-Pascal Beintus wrote the score for the new wolf-friendly version while former Soviet leader Gorbachev provides an introduction and epilogue.

"In Prokofiev's classic, man dominates, but Wolf Tracks expresses quite different values of balance and tolerance. All of us hope for a future where these values are lived every day," Gorbachev said.

<sob>


09:42 - Here's what I've been doing wrong
http://www.pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,111652,00.asp

(top)
So that's my problem. I just don't have the patience to use Windows.

'Cause here, via J Greely, is an in-depth PC World article on how to reinstall Windows without losing your data.

It's six pages long.

Six pages.

Before you begin, gather your Windows and application CD-ROMs. Back up your data files (just to be safe), and then clear two days off your calendar. If everything goes smoothly, you can reinstall Windows in a few hours. But you have to assume something will go wrong: You may not be able to find a necessary CD, or data won't be where you thought it was, or something will simply refuse to work.

...

If your restore CD is reformat-only, back up your data files to a network or a removable medium before reinstalling Windows. If you use Windows 98 or Me, back up C:\My Documents, plus the folders inside C:\Windows discussed in the 98/Me section below. If you have Windows 2000 or XP, back up C:\Documents and Settings. Also back up any other folders in which you store your data files.

...

Once you're back in Windows, reinstall your graphics card driver. If you have Windows set up for more than one user, you'll also have to re-create each account. Select Start, Settings, Control Panel, Users to do so. It's important that the user names match those in the old installation. If you're not sure, open Windows Explorer and navigate to C:\oldstuff\profiles. There you'll find a folder for each registered user name (see FIGURE 2). Don't worry about passwords. Log off and log back on as each user. When you're done, log off and back on one more time, but instead of choosing a user name and a password, press Esc to enter Windows without being a specific user.

...

Select Start, Programs, Accessories, Command Prompt. Type cd "\documents and settings" and press Enter. Then type xcopy administrator\*.* administrator.computername /s /h /r /c, replacing computername with the last part of that folder's name (after "Administrator.") in Documents and Settings. Now press Enter, and when you're asked about overwriting files or folders, press a for All.

...

Now you've got Windows going, but not much else. You may have to reinstall your printer, sound card, and so on. Luckily, if a driver for the gadget came on your Windows or vendor restore CD, it was probably reinstalled automatically.

...

You've probably guessed that the final step is deleting the c:\oldstuff folder--and the Administrator folder in Windows 2000. Make this the very last step, however. Wait a couple of days, weeks, or even months until you're confident that all of your needed files are accessible.

Christ, Linux is less painful than this.

I suppose it would be just baiting fate to point out how this whole ordeal would be accomplished under Mac OS X:

"Archive & Install".

Which takes about an hour.

"Clear two days off your calendar", huh? I guess my experience isn't so unusual after all.

Wednesday, September 3, 2003
01:05 - By their slurs shall ye know them
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7158078%255E13780,00.html

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Depp:

"I was ecstatic they re-named 'French Fries' as 'Freedom Fries'. Grown men and women in positions of power in the US government showing themselves as idiots," he told Stern.

Now which men and women in positions of power might you be talking about, you smirking little weasel? Which proverbial they have earned your incoherent ire?

Oh, that's right. Bush and Rice and Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, who jointly passed the Imperial Decree that all subjectscitizens of the US must henceforth refer to "French fries" as "freedom fries" on pain of exile to the gulags. Right?

He clearly doesn't have even the beginnings of understanding of how American society and government work, so perhaps his moving to France is the right answer for him. And for us. It'll raise the moral quotient of both countries.

Dammit, I'm running out of movies I can watch and enjoy whose stars haven't gone on record as card-carrying members of the Rectal-Cranial Inversion Brigade.


17:29 - I'm okay, really

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I just got word from the VW dealer that on top of my O2 sensor being fixed (which is what the solidly-on Check Engine light is always about, always, though for some reason they always have to act like it's some big mystery, and for some reason nobody has invented an O2 sensor that has a lifetime longer than your average set of tires), the catalytic converter is also fizzled and must be replaced. Fortunately, replacing the catalytic converter is covered under the drivetrain/exhaust warranty.

Unfortunately, not only do they not have a catalytic converter in stock-- neither does any of the supply warehouses in the region. LA, Reno, Seattle... all out.

You can't get a catalytic converter for a Jetta if you live in the western United States. For, apparently, as much as six months.

No! No! Calm down! That's a worst-case scenario! the guy told me. It could be as little as a day or two! We just don't know yet.

Fine. Let's have a call back tomorrow to see what the news is. I fully expect he'll tell me that they've got one on back-order, and it'll arrive in about two weeks. Long enough to completely stall the household's mobility and progress on construction, but not long enough to qualify as "an unreasonable period of time" sufficient for me to demand a loaner off the lot. Murphy's Law works that way.

But no, no... I'm cool. Everything will be fine.

I know I've been on a bit of a tear today. I know it looks like this has been one of the most off-pissing days of my life. And I suppose it's had the potential to be one.

But I'm calm. I'm in my happy place. Oddly enough, I don't feel anywhere near as angry as I must sound.

Honest.


16:31 - He just likes to see us squirm

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Okay, call me stupid.

...Okay, now that you're done doing that...

Please explain to me the following: Why in God's green Hell does Microsoft need to put pop-up ads in its Windows Update mechanism?!

Seriously! I go to try to update my desktop PC, to get it all ship-shape in light of SoBig and Blaster and friends (even though it's behind a NAT and therefore ostensibly "safe"), and I get this:



Not only is it a popup ad (which-- and I think this is hilarious-- every browser in the world, except for MSIE, has built-in features to block; even AOLNetscape in its final throes put in a pop-up blocker... and yet Microsoft, instead of adding that now-elementary feature, provides helpful tips on how to prevent pop-up ads, such as "contact the administrators for the Web site and ask them to remove the pop-up ads from the site, or prevent them from opening on your machine"); but it's a pop-up ad advertising a crappy third-party fix for the very virus/worm I'm trying to patch for, using a title bar banner of COMPUTER SECURITY ALERT - YOUR PC IS INFECTED!

Does Microsoft not even vet these pop-up ads for hideous glaring inappropriateness? Or to imagine what goes through the head of the average Windows user upon seeing a screen like this? Do they even consider--

Wait. What am I saying?

So anyway-- I close that window (which, incidentally, had been a pop-under), and immediately up pops this:



Goodie! Microsoft tacitly endorses not only Registry-smearing virus-fixing Trojans, but illegal MP3-and-pr0n-piracy sites too! Hey! While you're downloading your security patches, why not peruse some more of these fine Microsoft strategic partners! XXXHOTBABESXXX.com! BURN DVDS TO CD! HERBAL VIAGRA STR8 2 UR D00R!

And lest you think I'm being alarmist-- a new window just popped up, totally of its own accord, some ten minutes after I'd closed the earlier ads, for a sleazy matchmaking website. Just because the Windows Update window was still open. So not only does Windows Update have onLoads, pop-ups, pop-unders, and onCloses, it has timed-release ads. Just like any of the most awful porn sites you've ever been inundated with.

Does Microsoft's operating budget really not permit them to provide the critical Windows Update infrastructure without bombarding the user with cheesy, invasive, and often quite offensive ads? They're not doing that badly down on Wall Street, are they? Surely they can spring for a company subsidy on this most crucial of all centralized services...?

Yes, I know. Now I'm just being silly.

Now, I ask you, and I do so very slowly and distinctly:

Is it any bleeding wonder in the absolute slightest that nobody ever uses Windows Update to patch their bleeding systems?

If Microsoft wants to encourage its users to be more proactive in patching the holes it keeps drilling through its software, I have an excellent suggestion as to how they might start.

Oh, and...

Pardon my ignorance, but-- Set Program Access and Defaults? What the hell kind of intuitive menu option name is that? What, was Define Runtimes Parameter and Set Access Group of Leval taken already? How can any company that even pretends to have its hand in good user-interface design practices come up with a name like this for the function of specifying which applications are used for common Internet-related tasks?

And of course, what's the window called that it brings up? Add/Remove Programs. When what you're doing is clicking little radio buttons.

Jeezum crow, Bill. Were you mistreated by a human being in a previous life, and that's why you're taking it out on us now?


UPDATE: Funky.

On several people's advice, I ran Ad-Aware 6.0 on the machine, and it found a number of cookies from doubleclick.net and such sites. I let it clean them out for me, and the pop-up ads went away.

Now, before yez let loose with the congenial smiles and half-lidded eyes and conspiratorial side-glances, I think I can say that I had good reason to believe that Windows Update incorporated the ads on its own. First of all, whenever I've used this machine to browse to any other site on the Internet, I've never gotten pop-up windows. CNN, everybody on my blogroll, somethingawful, all the crucial stuff-- nary an ad to be seen. All was sweetness and light. But the minute I reach for the Windows Update button-- whoops! Up pop the ads.

On top of which, this machine is my personal test rig; it's behind a NAT, and I certainly don't use it for everyday surfing-- and I absolutely don't go recklessly installing Bonzi Buddies and pornographic weather applets and other prime candidates for populating the agarose dish that is my hard drive. I've been using and maintaining Windows machines in lab and support environments for some eight years now, and I like to think I have some understanding of responsible surfing habits. I've seen lots of weeeeeird crap in my time. But this was a new one on me.


13:57 - Remember when comics were funny?
http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff900/fv00845.gif

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God dammit, can we have just one strip that dares to break free of the Comic Artists' International Anti-US Union party line?!



I mean, yes, sure, humor is great for catharsis. We were all glad when we found we could laugh again after 9/11. But is there some great unspoken law, some You Must Never Speak of the Snares rule, that prevents any pop humorists on the planet (aside from Chris Muir) from acknowledging the scale and the importance of the war we're fighting? Let alone to stop spreading memes to a credulous and self-conscious public that, if the war should fail, are going to be the single largest cause for that failure?

They call it self-loathing, the desire among high-minded pundits to see the West fail so they can quote Denethor's death-pyre ravings and look all cool with their arms outstretched and a wall of flame leaping up behind them. But you know what? I call it treachery. I call it treason. And I'm beginning to think that as the 9/11 anniversary approaches with nary an acknowledgment on the major TV networks, it's going to take something even bigger and more gruesome than the events of that day to even get us back to the clarity we had two years ago. Much bigger. We're desensitized and cynical now, you see. Leads to wry, defeatist irony in place of the grim resolve we once had to put our foot down, ignore or silence our critics, and do some good in this world. But it's not real to us any longer. It's all a big fucking joke.

All that violence on television, I'll bet. Especially during September of 2001.


13:36 - Che and Che Alike
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=8056_Indonesian_VP-_US_is_Terrorist_Ki

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Somehow or other, this LGF thread turned into a back-and-forthing about Che Guevara. Itinerant limpet "View from Ireland" made happy noises about how many kids buy Che t-shirts because the guy looked soooo coool, and hey, he was an inspiring revolutionary! And for kids to grow up without knowing who he is reflects poorly on their school district.

To review:

Lessee here... Looking in my history books from College... Ah, here it is. Che Guevara: Argentinian of Irish descent... Trained as a doctor... Murdered hundreds of Cubans that wanted someone other than Castro to be in power... Murdered a couple hundred more in the La Paz Massacre... Extreme left-wing radical... One of the "spriritual founders" of the Shining Path which has killed more than 40,000 people... He was fond of tying people up, blindfolding them and then popping a cap in the backs of their heads while their wives and children were forced to watch... Executed by the Bolivian government on 48 proven counts of capital murder... Just the kind of guy that deserves to have his face on a t-shirt. Him and Bob Berdella.


And more:

OCTOBER 18, 1965: A CIA Intelligence Memorandum discusses what analysts perceive as Che Guevara’s fall from power within the Cuban government beginning in 1964. It states that at the end of 1963, Guevara’s plan of "rapid industrialization and centralization during the first years of the Revolution brought the economy to its lowest point since Castro came to power." "Guevara’s outlook, which approximated present -day Chinese--rather than Soviet--economic practice, was behind the controversy." In July 1964, "two important cabinet appointments signaled the power struggle over internal economic policy which culminated in Guevara’s elimination." Another conflict was that Guevara wanted to export the Cuban Revolution to different parts of Latin America and Africa, while "other Cuban leaders began to devote most of their attention to the internal problems of the Revolution." In December, 1964, Guevara departed on a three-month trip to the United States, Africa, and China. When he returned, according to the CIA report, his economic and foreign policies were in disfavor and he left to start revolutionary struggles in other parts of the world. (CIA Intelligence Memorandum, "The Fall of Che Guevara and the Changing Face of the Cuban Revolution," 10/18/65)


And VFI's response?

Che certainly was responsible for the executions of many following the revolution. A dirty job that Castro gave him. About 500 were killed.

Shining Path are Maoist. If anyone inherited the mantle of Che in Peru it was Tupac Amaru.

He was executed by the Bolivians (alongside the CIA) but not on any 'proven' counts of murder. In fact they denied executing him for a long time.

He was erudite, led a successful revolution, inspired countless numbers, never gave up, and happened to be drop dead gorgeous to boot. I don't think it's any mystery why he's a hardy perennial.

Of course. Never giving up. And being charismatic. What fine reasons to admire a guy, regardless of what it was he never gave up doing.

But I was a good boy. I kept from throttling the Canadians who proudly wore t-shirts with his image when I was up in Toronto.

I'll bet my teeth surfaces are flatter now, though.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003
20:15 - Cleanup in aisle 221B
http://stream.qtv.apple.com/qtv/videoc/http/benn001/benn001_http_300_ref.mov

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This is bound to be of interest to some.

I'm told of a tale of Costco, when everyone was standing in the checkout lines waiting to pay for their heaps of goods; then, someone several registers down dropped a bottle of Worcestershire sauce. SMASH. And the smell wafted over the congregated throngs.

And to a man, they all abandoned their carts and scuttled off to the back of the store, to reappear laden with armloads of steaks.

(So now it's theorized that if a grocery store ever needs to kick its meat-counter sales up a notch, all they have to do is drop a bottle of Lea & Perrins somewhere near a recirculating vent. Bam!)

Well, this is apparently the way to do the same thing at a Home Depot.



Maybe it's just a music video. But the whole power-tool industry can probably be forgiven for cackling with glee over this.

14MB, but I know I can name people who will find it worthwhile-- or at least very silly.


17:50 - I hope al Qaeda's using Windows
http://www.ccianet.org/letters/dhs_030827.pdf

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The CEO of the Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a two-page letter to Tom Ridge, urging him not to entrust the operation of the Department of Homeland Security to Microsoft software.

These vulnerabilities and exploits are not new, and unfortunately were predictable. CCIA believes it is critical to maintain secure systems to protect homeland security, and so CCIA has asked the Department to reconsider its decision to promote Microsoft as the default software for DHS. Reliance on a company that distributes products known to have such serious vulnerabilities will not provide adequate security and stability to protect of our nation's most important computer systems.

Not that I imagine this will have any effect or anything; if one bureaucracy in charge of law enforcement and security (the FBI) has to be taken to school on how to use things like e-mail and Google, my hope that the DHS is more adept at using computers-- or stringent about secure usage practices and software deployments-- is pretty much nil.

Whatever it is Tom Ridge is doing at his post, it wouldn't surprise me a bit to learn that he does it by spending most days sitting hunched uncomfortably in front of a 14-inch monitor on a massive mahogany desk, little bifocals perched on the end of his nose, hunting-and-pecking his way wonderingly through e-mails that entreat him to assist the son of the late Mobutu Sese Seko to move $30 million into a bank account in the United States.


17:13 - Worst Microsoft Ad EVAR

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Chris spotted this one.



Is this not the most pathetic, self-defeating ad you've ever seen? Could it be any more of a tacit endorsement of UNIX (which they're refusing to claim to be superior to, now) or of FreeBSD or Linux (which everybody in the industry knows is effectively free UNIX)? Have they just sort of given up on the spin game?

Do they realize how, in context, that guy in the center looks like he's feeling cold and isolated and abandoned, as though he's steeling himself outside a conference room to go in and announce some sort of dreadful financial news? How his face conveys not confidence and satisfaction, but guilt, trepidation, and the sick feeling you get from knowing you've picked a loser just because it makes the bottom line look a little better for this quarter?

"Do more with less." Wow. What an awful, awful slogan. "Buy our operating system! Sure, you get less functionality and quality than UNIX, but if you roll up your sleeves and take a lot of deep breaths while standing out in the breezeway, you'd be amazed at the things you can wring out of it! Go the bare-bones route, and together we can tighten our belts and ride out this bleak and barren post-dot-com business landscape!"

Yeah, I know what they're trying to say. But clearly someone at their ad agency didn't spend a lot of time staring at this ad to see how it could be interpreted.

At least it's not their usual smarmy lying. At least this approaches the truthful.

Which is really sad.

UPDATE: Speaking of the WeHaveTheWayOut.com site... notice that cute little animation on the left, of the bedsheet rope being lowered out the window? Kris points out that it wriggles the wrong way-- the end of it jiggles before the rest of it moves, like a snake.

Know what I think happened? I'll bet some Flash guys originally animated the rope being pulled up into the window; and then Microsoft said, "Hey, no, we wanted it going the other way"; and the contractor said, "Yeah, but like, it's already done and paid for, and the animators already went to Vegas"; and Microsoft said, "Okay, well, just run it backwards, then. That's good enough."

Oh, and Chris noticed that the rope doesn't descend all the way to the ground, which is out of sight below. So Microsoft and Unisys will help you start to escape, but they won't provide more than ten feet of bedsheet-- and then you've got that inconvenient plunge to your death to contend with.


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© Brian Tiemann