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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12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, September 21, 2003
13:28 - Wild Blue Yonder

(top)
Done with that last stupid chapter; now just two more to go and I'm at the 75% deadline. Now I'm off to go flying around the bay with Chris; back later.

Saturday, September 20, 2003
13:10 - We wonders, yes we wonders
http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=31551628-E56E-4248-A93E-838C45111C6E

(top)
Remember when I was in the woods north of Toronto last month, and in a cabin at the camp site I found a sheaf of "Camp Songs" that had been rewritten with cheerful militant Islamic lyrics?

Well, well...

TORONTO - A Muslim youth organization that American counter-terrorism officials say was founded by Osama bin Laden's nephew has been operating in the Toronto area, the National Post has learned.

The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), established in the United States by Abdullah bin Laden, publishes literature promoting Islamic jihad and hatred of Jews, according to a senior investigator.

The Canadian branch, in Mississauga, operates under the supervision of the U.S. wing set up by Abdullah bin Laden, according to the group's own literature. Its headquarters is in Saudi Arabia.

In an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Virginia, David Kane, a senior special agent with the Department of Homeland Security, quoted provocative sections of books published by WAMY. One of the books said, "Teach our children to love taking revenge on the Jews and the oppressors, and teach them that our youngsters will liberate Palestine and al-Quds [Jerusalem] when they go back to Islam and make jihad for the sake of Allah."

Special Agent Kane said another book compiled and published by WAMY listed "Heroes of Palestine" who had been killed in attacks against Israelis, including a terrorist who hijacked a bus and drove it off a cliff, killing 14.

"The Jews are the enemies of the faithful, God and the angels," Special Agent Kane quoted another WAMY book, entitled A Handy Encyclopedia of Contemporary Religions and Sects, as saying. "The Jews are humanity's enemies; they foment immorality in this world; The Jews are deceitful, they say something but mean the exact opposite."

WAMY Canada runs a series of Islamic camps and pilgrimages for youth.

I'm sure it's just a bizarre coincidence.

Friday, September 19, 2003
13:35 - Good News Don't Sell
http://www.msnbc.com/news/856672.asp

(top)
I'm sure it would come as a surprise to people who get their news via hearsay from chat-forum wags and syndicated cartoonists to hear that things in Iraq are actually going well-- quite well indeed. That despite yesterday's attack near Tikrit, insurgent violence is dropping quite precipitously (we're going for longer and longer periods without American deaths). That Baghdad has electrical power. That just about every town and city has a democratically elected council. That American soldiers even today, in mid-September 2003, are hailed from the sidewalks with cries of "We love America!" and "Thank you Bush!" as they drive through the streets of all but a few Tikriti strongholds. That despite the slant you get from CNN and ABC and just about everybody but Fox, the troops don't have to skulk from doorway to doorway for fear that every second-story window harbors a sniper sheltered by the Loyal Iraqi Patriots.

In fact, to hear the reporting from the major news organs and all the popular comic artists (who, of course, people are predisposed to believe anyway because they're funny), one might come to believe that Iraq is, in fact, a quagmire that we should retreat from immediately.

Trouble is, if we were to do so, the Iraqis would be really surprised. Not least at our rationale. Because from where they stand, the longer the Americans stay, the better.

Glenn Reynolds has put up a nice long roundup of all the latest scandals that have gone nicely unreported except in the blogosphere-- Andrew Gilligan's doctoring of his Palm Pilot's message dates, Christine Amanpour's whining about being "intimidated" by Fox News, initially anti-war federal judge Don Walter's brick-wall first-hand realization of just how right we were to go to Iraq.

These things are reaching the editorial pages, but it'll be some time before they appear above the fold. If ever.

Only by continuing to spread the word will that ever happen.

Of course, if humor can be used for evil, it can be used for good as well. Read Frank J.'s take. No, really.

"Why are you filming the G.I.’s helping school children?" CNN's Lefty Stevens asked Fox News's Melinda Hawkish, "There's no story there."

"I think people would be interested in how war and destruction has improved the lives of the Iraqis," Melinda answered.

"Bah! Only stories of failure are news worthy," Stevens answered. Nearby he saw a troop fall to the ground, and he and his cameraman quickly rushed over to film him. "Yet another troop has fallen in this burgeoning quagmire," Stevens narrated.

"I'm alright," said Private Gomer, standing up, "I just done tripped on a rock."

"Dammit!" Stevens exclaimed, "Well scream for us if you are more seriously wounded."

Arrr.


11:05 - Stealing Capitalism's Sooouuuul

(top)
This morning the guest on Forum was William Greider, author of The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy. And with a title like that, you just know it's going to be one of those hours where I turn down the radio so I can hear the much more pleasant sounds coming from my VR6 all the way to work.

But, inevitably, the engine noise winds down as I come to the stop light after the off-ramp, and what is the guy doing but... holding gamely forth about how our society rewards all the wrong people for the jobs they do. "We have this artificial ladder of 'brain workers' and 'hand workers'," he says. "We have this idea that people who use their brains for a living are somehow better people, and that people who use their hands are to be looked down upon." He went on to explain how in order to make progress, we need to restructure society so that the people whose jobs we need are the ones who get paid the best, instead of those do-nothing parasites like corporate executives and scientists and stockbrokers and politicians. He noted that even brain surgeons do tedious repetitive work with their hands, while truck drivers and seamstresses and janitors all have an "intellectualizing process" in what they do. "One can ask the question of who in society we need more-- garbage collectors and sewer workers, or brain surgeons and bond traders? And frankly I'd have to say it's the garbage collectors!"

Unalloyed approval from the hostess and from the callers. Of course.

I parked and shut off the car before I could hear whether anyone called in to ask the following question, though: Why should a job that requires a $200,000 eight-year education be paid on an equal basis with a job that can be trained for in three days?

Y'know, just askin'.

I don't care how much society "needs" one job or another. Sure, we need people to flip our burgers, clean our streets, watch us while we sleep, and all the rest of the things Tyler Durden told the police chief guy while threatening to cut off his balls. Yes, I understand that unskilled labor is crucially important to the function of society.

But let's not kid ourselves, all right? There's no need to go all "noble savage" about people with menial, unglamorous jobs. I understand the temptation to get all weepy about the inequity of it all; why should Mr. White-Collar get paid six figures to sit behind a desk all day and type on a keyboard while his friend from high school digs ditches in the blazing sun for minimum wage? Oh, the humanity! And we need ditches to be dug; we don't need software to be written! ...Well, look: no matter how much you think the world should work, the supply and demand rules of economics apply to jobs the same as they do to everything else. Want to know why it costs an employer five bucks an hour to get a guy to swing a pickax, while it costs another employer $100,000 a year to get a guy to write C++ code? Um, because the people who are capable of swinging a pickax are more numerous than the ones who are capable of writing C++ code.

This is pretty rudimentary stuff. Why do I even need to explain it? Why are guys like Greider allowed to make hundreds of thousands of dollars writing books about how this fundamental theory of market economics is backwards and wrong and doesn't make sense?

Yes, we have a class system. We do. But it's one based not on accident of birth, or on inheritance, or on race or religion or gender-- but on merit. Tom Lehrer once started off his "It Makes a Fellow Proud to Be a Soldier" song with a monologue noting that our armed forces not only prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, and color, but also on the grounds of ability. It was a rueful joke in 1959; but today some people actually seem to want to add that criterion to the list.

It's a hard thing to get past, I admit. Even Greg Kihn, on KFOX in the morning a couple of years ago, wondered why we should trust airport security to an underpaid unskilled workforce when we need to be manning those X-ray machines with our best and brightest? We need those people, by gum. And I had to e-mail him to point out that if the airports could afford to pay the guys at the security checkpoint a salary commensurate with the education that makes them "our best and brightest", then they'll take that job. But unless they do, why the hell should someone who has put in that kind of money and study and effort over the years-- specifically to enhance his earning power-- choose to stand behind a beeping archway for twelve hours a day, staring at a little black-and-white TV screen and waving a magnetic wand over little old ladies' armpits?

While, presumably, Microsoft hires bums off the street to write their flagship software?

...Wait. Maybe Greider's on to something there.

Anyway: the callers clearly weren't going to be any help; the first one said "Hi-- I've been the beneficiary of capitalism all my life, but I've noticed that in recent years especially, the Soul of Capitalism has gotten progressively more dark... I mean, who can deny that one of the main reasons for the war in Iraq was oil?"

Uh, I can, you dorktard. If we invaded Iraq to steal their oil so we can have cheap gas, then why the hell do I have to pay $2.25 a gallon at the pump? I want my Evil Capitalist Imperialist Oppressor dividend, dammit! What, do I have to drive around the back to get to the special pumps, the ones reserved for the members of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy? The ones where all the card-carrying demons in business suits fill up their SUVs and motorhomes and Palestinian-baby-threshing machines for a nickel a gallon, just like in the good old petticoats-buttoned-at-the-neck 50s?

Where do they get these people?

Oh, wait. It's California.

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," [Governor Davis] said.

Never mind.

Thursday, September 18, 2003
02:42 - Baghdad Blog
http://freshair.npr.org/day_fa.jhtml;jsessionid=FN4MZAYNLTRV3LA5AINCF4A?todayDate=cu

(top)
Ah yes: this is why I keep listening to NPR on the way home from work. It's because every so often, Terry Gross will have on some guest who's just too interesting to pass up. And I can hardly think of a more interesting candidate for the position than today's guest: Salam Pax.

I didn't get to hear the whole thing-- we were running back and forth getting lattices from Home Despot to finish up the fence with-- but what I did hear was most excellent. You get to hear about Salam's life and times, how good his English is, what it was like in Baghdad during the bombing (which, it must be noted, was a subject that Terry just kept goading and goading and hoping he would expand upon, but all he did was talk about how "precision bombs are just scarily accurate" and how the bombing and even the ground invasion of Baghdad proper were as nothing compared to how scared his fellow Iraqis were of the Ba'athist army and what they might do.)

The audio's all archived, so I'll be grabbing an hour tomorrow to absorb the whole thing.


16:45 - Where do I get tickets?
http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000065.html

(top)
Bill Whittle has some Big News.

As commenter "Blackfive" puts it, he's kicking in the gates of Hell.


09:34 - That's the stuff
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/03/0903/091803.html

(top)
Lileks has gotten in the habit of warning people off of his more screedish Bleats, because presumably a lot of people don't wanna read "all that political crap".

Whatever. When I see the words "Bail if you choose; see you tomorrow", I rub my hands together and pour myself a drink, grinning.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003
18:00 - 100W: A-OK
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/3/32841.html

(top)
Also from Kris:

Intel CTO Pat Gelsinger came as close as he's likely to get before the chip's launch to admitting that 'Prescott', the next generation of the Pentium desktop processor, dissipates more than 100W of power.

Speaking to reporters at Intel Developer Forum in San Jose today, Gelsinger didn't confirm Prescott's alleged 103W power rating; but speaking about processors in general, he said: "100W for a desktop is OK".

If that's not managing expectations for Prescott, we don't know what is. That Intel believes it's fine for a desktop CPU to dissipate 20-odd Watt more power than today's Pentium 4 does, is a sign that future chips - e.g. Prescott - will indeed pump out rather more heat than an 85W 'Northwood' P4.

Gelsinger also said that 64-bit CPUs are overkill for the desktop.

Moving beyond 32-bit addressing is "really not needed for several more years", he told reporters attending the Intel Developer Forum in San Jose.

AMD, of course, isn't going to wait that long. Next week, the company will unveil its long-awaited 64-bit desktop processor, the Athlon 64. And, just a few weeks ago, Apple began shipping its Power Mac G5 desktop based on the 64-bit IBM PowerPC 970 processor.

But if Gelsinger's comments are anything to go by, Intel believes its rivals are coming to market too early.

"How many [users] have seen the crippling 640K4GB limit on their desktop PCs?" he asked. Today, he claimed, there aren't apps that need more than the 640K4GB offered by virtual memory schemes, let alone however much physical memory is available.



17:56 - Preparing for the Real World
http://www.mymac.com/roger_born/9.15.03.shtml

(top)
Roger Born switched from a Mac to a PC. Because being on a Mac is like being in a private school, or taught at home: you don't get to learn how to cope in the real world.

Why is Windows so seductive? Windows gives me (and most everyone else) just a slight sense that everything works and is stable (I guess at first that is enough for most people starting out in computing, right?)

But the real secret is that Windows is just not safe. What an adrenaline rush!

I like to think of it like mountain climbing. Why climb a sheer cliff when you could be safe at home with your loved ones? Its the crazy thrill you get when your whole digital life is hanging over the edge of the precipice and you know you are hanging by your fingertips as you continue to push your computer to do more and more things, and get more and more work done without losing it all to the sudden and very unexpected Blue Screen of Death! This is addictive computing!

...

Think of it! Doesn't life kick you in the teeth when you least expect it? Do you think you are really immune to the theft of your possessions? Will it never happen to you that you are mugged sometime, somewhere? Your trusty Windows OS is there to remind you that life is neither fair nor lacking in sad surprises. Thank you, Billy Gates!

You have no idea how this helps me keep my perspective when I teach such realities to my incredulous students in my many college classes.

Life experience. For pennies on the dollar!

Via Kris.


14:48 - A thought

(top)
Further to the economics-ish blather from yesterday, I had the following get stuck in my brain like a kidney stone, so here it is:

Q: What is the primary function of a business?

Liberal: To give jobs to employees.
Conservative: To make money for the stockholders.
Free-Floating Whatever: To create goods & services.

This seems to tie a few things together...

Namely: If you accept that the primary reason for a business to exist is to employ people and give them money, then it follows that the business should sacrifice its bottom line for the sake of the employees-- give them raises, play along with unions, change what the company makes or sells-- whatever it takes to keep the employees happy, even if it kills the company to do so. But if you believe the business' purpose is to make money, then it's the business' duty to cut costs wherever possible, including in payroll (especially when you can increase efficiency while you're at it, as in employing a machine instead of a person).

But if you believe the company exists to create goods & services, then you do what's necessary to keep making the best products possible, whether that means sacrificing employee benefits or stockholder profits. Happy employees are important to making good products, and so is a healthy bottom line. You gotta maintain both.

But a company on a shoestring can make products by slashing costs and benefits and increasing efficiency; but it can't make anything if stockholders don't invest. I have to conclude that my free-floatingness, if you put it in a centrifuge and spun it up, would come to rest on the side of the stockholders, because while without workers all you have is dormant ideas on paper, without the bottom line you have nothing but lawsuits.


12:14 - Spread the word
http://www.petitiononline.com/badnsi/

(top)
I know online petitions are pretty much useless expressions of pique. But for what it's worth, this one is something I can get behind.

We believe that Verisign's history of technical incompetance, poor business ethics and disregard for the proper functioning of the Internet, including their most recent behaviour of including wildcard matches for the .net and .com domains, is just cause for withdrawing the .net and .com domains from Verisign's control.

I hope the author learns how to spell "incompetence" (neatly ironic there), but other than that...

UPDATE: There's also this one, which appears to be a bit further along.


11:28 - I want it myyyyyyy waaaaay
http://www.techcentralstation.com/091703B.html

(top)
Mark forwards this TCS column by Glenn Reynolds:

Virginia Postrel has argued in her book, The Substance of Style, that aesthetic values are becoming a major driver -- perhaps the major new driver -- of economic activity. And I think she's right. It's easy to scoff at this, because aesthetics seem divorced from function: an ugly car gets you where you're going just as quickly and reliably as a pretty one, an ugly coat keeps you just as warm as a handsome one, and an ugly house keeps the rain off just as well as a showplace.

Nonetheless, attractiveness matters. We all know that an ugly spouse can be just as faithful and loving as a gorgeous one -- even, if popular legend is to be believed, more so -- but we nonetheless tend to choose mates whose looks we like. To my daughter and her friends, it's natural to spend a lot of time thinking about what looks good. And, judging by the attention that my nephews pay to the subjects of their interests (automobiles, airplanes, and, just starting, women) looks matter there, too.

Hmm. Could that be why people keep buying Macs, when they can clearly get something "good enough" for much less?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003
16:50 - If I Only Had a Brain (It's a "Straw Man" reference, see)
http://www.conceptualguerilla.com/beattherightinthree.htm

(top)
This is interesting. I'm not sure how I got here-- closing my eyes and randomly clicking on things can have odd results-- but I seem to have landed on a self-proclaimed primer, at a site called "Conceptual Guerilla", for leftists to use in defeating the arguments of the right.

All you have to do, says the site, is understand that "right-wing ideology is just 'dime-store economics' – intended to dress their ideology up and make it look respectable. You don't really need to know much about economics to understand it. They certainly don't. It all gets down to two simple words. 'Cheap labor'."

Interesting. Because in just about all the bullet items he goes on to list, I find that I agree with his accusation-- but not with his assessment of the rationale for it. Every one mentions "cheap labor". But, oddly, though I find myself unable to refute the first sentence of each point, my reasoning has never once used the words "cheap labor" or "over a barrel".

Maybe that's because his thesis is based on a straw man of his own construction, and he's just too proud of himself to let go of it.

Just for fun, let's go through them one by one, shall we? Let's find out what a person who always used to consider himself a liberal, but who is now off in a free-floating la-la land, thinks in reaction to this guy's statements.

Cheap-labor conservatives don't like social spending or our "safety net". Why. Because when you're unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably next to nothing. You see, they want you "over a barrel" and in a position to "work cheap or starve".

I don't like social spending or a "safety net"-- or more accurately, I'm wary of such things-- because they allow people to become complacent and live on the dole forever, constantly drawing down wealth that is created by others and forced out of their hands at the point of a W-2. The bigger and more generous a welfare system is, the less incentive its beneficiaries have to work, and the more comfortable it is for them to just keep receiving welfare forever, never becoming rehabilitated, never contributing to the economy in return.

Cheap-labor conservatives don't like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. Why. These reforms undo all of their efforts to keep you "over a barrel".

A minimum wage is fine and dandy. But raise it too high, and you get the same problem you have with an overenthusiastic welfare system: employers start to have to pay unskilled labor the same as they would skilled labor. How fair is that to the workers with skills? Money for a higher minimum wage has to come from somewhere-- namely, the wages of people whose work is worth more, and the operating costs of the company. Workers aren't the only ones who have to pay bills.

Cheap-labor conservatives like "free trade", NAFTA, GATT, etc. Why. Because there is a huge supply of desperately poor people in the third world, who are "over a barrel", and will work cheap.

I like free trade because it creates wealth and efficiency. Running a business where it's more expensive to do so is just stupid. That's why all the dot-coms in Silicon Valley registered their incorporation documents in Delaware-- the economic conditions are especially favorable there. That's why so many animation houses are leaving Hollywood and going to Japan and Korea and India. Not because the evil studio owners spun a globe, saw poor brown people on the other side, and rubbed their hands together cackling with glee; but because they could produce the same work for 1/3 the price, without having to deal with steep business taxes and union dues that are par for the course in California. I know a young director who's bringing his lifelong dream series to TV after years of effort. The only reason it's possible, though, is that he's having it animated in India; he'd never have been able to afford to make it here, without being part of the impermeable unionized Hollywood juggernaut. The artists? Maybe someone should ask the artists how they feel about being part of a growing global entertainment industry. They once called Termite Terrace a "sweatshop" too.

(Oh, and I love the implicit accusation that companies are giving jobs to poor brown people in other countries and thereby taking them away from good ol' white folks here at home-- and that this is a bad thing. Who's being ethnocentric now, hmm?)

Cheap-labor conservatives oppose a woman's right to choose. Why. Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women "over a barrel", forcing them to work cheap.

Uh? I don't oppose a woman's right to choose, but I understand the viewpoint of those who do. Oddly enough it usually seems to have something to do with "killing babies is wrong". I never once heard someone say they opposed abortion because unwanted babies kept women poor. I guess that's because I'm not truly part of the conspiracy yet, huh?

Cheap-labor conservatives don't like unions. Why. Because when labor "sticks together", wages go up. That's why workers unionize. Seems workers don't like being "over a barrel".

I don't like unions in industries where they're unnecessary-- white-collar corporations, professional disciplines, places where employees already have plenty of say in their lives. All unions do in those cases is create lucrative inefficiencies ("You can't change that light bulb-- you have to wait for the union electrician to come next month!") and prevent employers from firing anyone for cause or from laying anybody off when business is bad. The San Francisco MUNI bus system kills pedestrians in traffic accidents every year; yet the bus drivers involved are never prosecuted, nor even lose their jobs, because of the bus drivers' union. I might be going out on a limb here, but I think that sucks. (This has to do with "fairness" and "justice", not "keeping workers over a barrel".) And in European industries where unions are powerful, companies can't lay anybody off during economic downturns, or even reduce wages, so instead they go spectacularly bankrupt. And they can't hire aggressively in upturns, for fear of having this unfireable workforce if the market should go sour, which means they can't take advantage of market opportunities (the way that, say, the dot-com boom took off here, when companies couldn't even hire fast enough to support the explosion). Such union-dominated companies can't innovate, can't capitalize on their opportunities, can't invest, can't create wealth. That too, I believe, sucks. (This has to do with "promoting innovation and competition" and "responsible financial policy", not "keeping workers over a barrel".)

Cheap-labor conservatives constantly bray about "morality", "virtue", "respect for authority", "hard work" and other "values". Why. So they can blame your being "over a barrel" on your own "immorality", lack of "values" and "poor choices".

I constantly bray about "morality", "virtue", "respect for authority" (wait, do I?), "hard work" and other "values" because they form the core of our society. We reward hard work and revile laziness. That's because those who work hard create wealth and drive economic and technological progress; whereas those who don't, don't. We as a people respect creativity, ingenuity, and the self-made man. Some countries find this surprising. I don't, however. Because the alternative is to punish those who work hard by giving their winnings to those who don't work hard. And I don't find that very fair.

To say nothing of what happens to the incentive for achievement. Why should I open a business to sell my new invention, if I'm just going to lose all my profits in taxes that go to chronic welfare recipients? Why should I bother trying to get ahead at work so I can send my kid to college, if Joe Schmoe can get the same thing by asking the government for a tax-supported handout? Why should I work to make my family and community richer if I'll get penalized for doing so? It's the same thing that we'll have to deal with now thanks to Davis' vote-pandering legislation: Why should I wait for years and work hard and save a ton of money to enter the US legally and get that coveted legal California driver's license, if someone else can just sneak over the border and get one of his own for free?

I've been spending every evening for the past six weeks writing a new book that will probably top 600 pages when I'm done. I have two months on contract to produce it. This means approximately six hours of intensive writing every single night, while I simultaneously try to do home renovation work to get the backyard and kitchen and new master suite all shipshape. And that's on top of my 40-hour-plus day job. This is called hard work. I'm being offered a nice hefty advance and very favorable royalty rates in compensation for the writing effort, which is ostensibly why I'm doing it. But I'm going to have to earmark fully half of that take to be mailed back to the government next April, there to be distributed to the pockets of people who say quite proudly that jobs are for suckers. Know what? It makes me feel like they're right.

Cheap-labor conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.

Wow. Even the right-wing bigots that I've heard from over the years have never said anything like this. There's that conspiracy again, eh?

I'd love for workers who are "over a barrel" not to be. If they lift themselves up and create and achieve, they contribute more to society as a whole. I have no interest whatsoever in holding such people down where they can't get anywhere. Cheap labor is an interesting thing to have, but I have no illusion that it's some sort of inviolable resource that must be kept at a certain level of supply lest the Business Fatcats come crashing down from their pedestals. Why? Because a worker who chooses to achieve-- by getting a better job, inventing something new, opening a business of his own-- will create more wealth for society than it costs society to lose him as "cheap labor".

Economics isn't a zero-sum game. Wealth is created all the time. What I think the Left seems to believe is that there's a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and it can either be distributed evenly or unevenly, fairly or unfairly. But that's not the case. Every time someone creates something that's worth more to the company or to society than he gets paid, wealth is created. This happens all the time-- an astonishing amount. It's because the human brain is a wealth factory-- a miraculous perpetual-motion machine that can defy physics by generating new ideas that are worth more to the world than the cost of the food and oxygen you shovel into it. It's how this world continues to grow and become an ever better place to live. Such a thing wouldn't happen if we had "conservation of wealth".

I'm in favor of those policies which will lead to more creation of wealth, regardless of who does the creating. Because the benefits are felt by everybody in society.

Phew. I didn't even bother reading the article further; just more of the same straw men standing in a neat row in the cornfield, accusing me of seeing the world in terms of "cheap labor", and of keeping poor workers "over a barrel". But with that premise to start from, I'm pretty confident that whoever he's talking about, it ain't me.


13:36 - Et tu, Stevé?

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I just got an e-mail notice that my .Mac membership was about to be automatically renewed, but that my credit card info needed to be updated. Fine, all well and good.

But in the middle of the e-mail, in the midst of where they were showering me with reasons why I should stay a member, was this:

In addition, for a limited time, we invite you to choose one of the great free gifts listed below to be sent to you after your .Mac membership renews on October 14, 2003 PDT! Just click the Claim Offer link on your Account Settings page after you have updated your credit card.

• A free copy of The Sims™ (Macintosh version), the best-selling game of all time for both the Mac and the PC (US$49.95 retail value)*
• A free copy of EverQuest® (Macintosh edition on DVD), the world's #1 online multiplayer adventure, including a free month of play time (US$49.95 retail value)*
• US$20 off your next purchase of more than US$20 at the online Apple Store

Aaarrgh! Apple's pushing EverQuest now! Fie! Fie for shame! Boo! Hiss!

I'll take the $20, thank you.


11:13 - There's the missing sibling
http://www.apple.com/powerbook/

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That's more like it. The TiBook is dead; long live the new PowerBook family.

Nothing especially new, except for FireWire 800, USB 2.0 High-Speed Enhanced Mode XP (The Fast Kind™), AirPort Extreme, SuperDrives across the board, DVI out, the backlit keyboard available on more models, and built-in Bluetooth. It's a teeny bit thicker than the old one (1.1" thick), but it's aluminum, so stiffness and AirPort range should both be improved. (Titanium was an interesting idea, but I'm sure it caused more trouble than it was worth. Boy, I heard some stories about the travails Apple had to go through to figure out how to machine the cases. Titanium doesn't exactly stamp or roll easily.)

But they also seem to have taken the opportunity to introduce wireless Bluetooth-based keyboards and mice.

These new Bluetooth-based peripherals use adaptive frequency hopping to give you reliable wireless performance from a range of up to 30 feet, and offer secure 128-bit, over-the-air encryption — keeping sensitive information safe while you’re typing it.

Nice. I can't see it being useful to me, and I'm still leery of input devices that require batteries; but the encryption is a good thing, as is the Bluetooth-- laggy input has always been a problem with the traditional radio-based devices. And I'm sure the wireless mouse especially will be of interest to laptop users; Apple's mice (and those sold by third-parties, too, like Macally) are notorious for their short cords, and having the USB plugs on the left side of the laptops isn't a great design choice if you're right-handed and want to use a mouse.

Maybe it'll quiet those people who said "it seems absurd that Apple didn't use a wireless keyboard and mouse" in the iMac when it was released last January.

Nah.

Monday, September 15, 2003
19:03 - asdfsafdfsd.com
http://slashdot.org/articles/03/09/16/0034210.shtml?tid=126&tid=95&tid=98&tid=99

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Great. Just great.

As of a little while ago (it is around 7:45 PM US Eastern on Mon 15 Sep 2003 as I write this), VeriSign added a wildcard A record to the .COM and .NET TLD DNS zones. The IP address returned is 64.94.110.11, which reverses to sitefinder.verisign.com. What that means in plain English is that most mis-typed domain names that would formerly have resulted in a helpful error message now results in a VeriSign advertising opportunity. For example, if my domain name was 'somecompany.com,' and somebody typed 'soemcompany.com' by mistake, they would get VeriSign's advertising.

Which means that if you try to telnet to any non-existent or mistyped domain name, it'll hang and time-out because the 64.94.110.11 host doesn't respond to telnet SYN packets, even just to say "connection refused". And Microsoft will never be able to redirect Web users to their own host-not-found/search page again. VeriSign has just broken about a zillion people's network management scripts.

This will have the immediate effect of making network trouble-shooting much more difficult. Before, a mis-typed domain name in an email address, web browser, or other network configuration item would result in an obvious error message. You might not have known what to do about it, but at least you knew something was wrong. Now, though, you will have to guess. Every time.

Some have pointed out that this will make an important anti-spam check impossible. A common anti-spam measure is to check and make sure the domain name of the sender really exists. (While this is easy to force, every little bit helps.) Since all .COM and .NET domain names now exist, that anti-spam check is useless.

VeriSign/Network Solutions needs to be stripped of their custodianship of .com/.net domains, immediately. This is a horrible, horrible step on their part, and the only reason they could have thought they'd get away with it is that they're a monopoly.

Let's make sure they didn't guess right.

Chris has found that they're actually running an SMTP server on port 25 on the host all nonexistent domains now resolve to. A partially functional one. It accepts two SMTP commands, gives OK response to both, and then returns a 550 error. Regardless of the commands you enter, or what order they're in. They're assuming you're going HELO/MAIL/RCPT, when you could be going MAIL/RCPT or HELO/EXPN/MAIL or something else. There's no way their setup could possibly work-- it's set up never to work. Why would they have it online? What possible reason could they have? Aside from complete and utter brain death?



17:28 - Censorship: American Style
http://www.denverpost.com/Stories/0,1413,36~6439~1628985,00.html

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Some countries censor their citizens to prevent them from discussing events and ideas which might make the State look bad. Some countries silence teachers in their schools who might tell their students that their country might be in the wrong.

And here in AmeriKKKa, our public schools deny teachers the right to discuss the most important event in our recent history in such a way as to portray the country as being in the right.

Ritter on Wednesday showed his class of 13- and 14-year-old students a CNN-produced video that included images of Sept. 11 victims leaping from windows. He did not have district approval to show the video, Amole said.

Jeanette Washington, a student curriculum administrator, dropped by Ritter's classroom while he was playing the video "America Remembers," and Ritter later was called out of class to meet with principal Cynde Fischer.

Ritter said he agreed not to show the video again. After a meeting Wednesday afternoon he understood he could answer questions only about Sept. 11, but he went to school Thursday with other anniversary activities planned just in case, he said.

That morning, he said, Fischer told him he must limit his Sept. 11 discussion to the crash of United Airlines Flight 93, and then move to a regular lesson about the foundation of American government.

"I did not feel it was an option for me to explore other Sept. 11 (topics)," he said.

School officials told him they would sit in on the class, and when he protested, they told him he could follow their directions or leave, Ritter said.

When he went downstairs to think about it, he returned and Fischer told him to leave, he said.

He returned for a regular day of work Friday, but administrators asked him to leave again, he said.

Minders. Right here at home. To make sure he doesn't teach his students about the attack on the World Trade Center.

Our future isn't just a Nerf world. It's a Nerf world run by Big Brother.

(Via LGF.)


17:04 - One would think they planned it this way

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Oh, brother.

A federal appeals court Monday ordered California officials to halt preparations for the October 7 gubernatorial recall election, citing concerns about a "hurried, constitutionally infirm" process.

Specifically, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the state needed to upgrade its voting equipment first.

"The inherent defects in the system are such that approximately 40,000 voters who travel to the polls and cast their ballot will not have their vote counted at all," the court ruled, citing voting machines that the secretary of state's office has declared unfit.

Interesting. So I suppose all previous elections which were carried out using archaic systems similar to California's Pleistocene punch-card system are also hereby to be considered null and void, yesno? Including the one that elected Davis in the first place?

What I find more teeth-gritting about this is that all the bizarre eleventh-hour vote-pandering legislation that Davis has been pushing through in the past few weeks-- like giving legal driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, and requiring catalytic converters on lawnmowers, which will probably mean lawnmowers' O2 sensors will now all start burning out and requiring $500 repairs every six months-- will not be immediately and painfully repealed by whatever saner candidate steps into his seat, as a little nasty-gram-to-the-new-guy, welcome aboard-- have fun dealing with this, as planned. Instead, these travesties will stand.

If Davis has used the recall as a cover for this flurry of ludicrous and otherwise impossible lawmaking, only to emerge smelling like a rose thanks to the Ninth Circuit, even Arnie won't be able to save us.


16:56 - Hammer drills both kick, and suck, ass

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My arm, leg, and abdomen muscles all agree this is so.

But all the holes are now drilled in the concrete-brick wall along the back of the property, and the pressure-treated 4x4s are all mounted with 10" carriage bolts, and the cement piers and posts are all painted a deep terra-cotta reddish-brown. That's so the crosspieces can be attached between them, and then the piers can be covered with vertical trellis pieces, which then will stretch across the top. The brown will show through the trellises on the way up, but the rest of the white wall will be covered with redwood planks.

The backyard's still a mess, but it's starting to take shape. Slowly. Surely.

Photos. I need photos.

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© Brian Tiemann