g r o t t o 1 1

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

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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

Cars without compromise.

Book Plugs:

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

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 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
 3/14/2005 -  3/20/2005
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 2/28/2005 -   3/6/2005
 2/21/2005 -  2/27/2005
 2/14/2005 -  2/20/2005
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 1/31/2005 -   2/6/2005
 1/24/2005 -  1/30/2005
 1/17/2005 -  1/23/2005
 1/10/2005 -  1/16/2005
  1/3/2005 -   1/9/2005
12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
 11/1/2004 -  11/7/2004
10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
 10/4/2004 - 10/10/2004
 9/27/2004 -  10/3/2004
 9/20/2004 -  9/26/2004
 9/13/2004 -  9/19/2004
  9/6/2004 -  9/12/2004
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 8/23/2004 -  8/29/2004
 8/16/2004 -  8/22/2004
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 6/28/2004 -   7/4/2004
 6/21/2004 -  6/27/2004
 6/14/2004 -  6/20/2004
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 5/17/2004 -  5/23/2004
 5/10/2004 -  5/16/2004
  5/3/2004 -   5/9/2004
 4/26/2004 -   5/2/2004
 4/19/2004 -  4/25/2004
 4/12/2004 -  4/18/2004
  4/5/2004 -  4/11/2004
 3/29/2004 -   4/4/2004
 3/22/2004 -  3/28/2004
 3/15/2004 -  3/21/2004
  3/8/2004 -  3/14/2004
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 1/26/2004 -   2/1/2004
 1/19/2004 -  1/25/2004
 1/12/2004 -  1/18/2004
  1/5/2004 -  1/11/2004
12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
 12/8/2003 - 12/14/2003
 12/1/2003 -  12/7/2003
11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
 11/3/2003 -  11/9/2003
10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
 10/6/2003 - 10/12/2003
 9/29/2003 -  10/5/2003
 9/22/2003 -  9/28/2003
 9/15/2003 -  9/21/2003
  9/8/2003 -  9/14/2003
  9/1/2003 -   9/7/2003
 8/25/2003 -  8/31/2003
 8/18/2003 -  8/24/2003
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  8/4/2003 -  8/10/2003
 7/28/2003 -   8/3/2003
 7/21/2003 -  7/27/2003
 7/14/2003 -  7/20/2003
  7/7/2003 -  7/13/2003
 6/30/2003 -   7/6/2003
 6/23/2003 -  6/29/2003
 6/16/2003 -  6/22/2003
  6/9/2003 -  6/15/2003
  6/2/2003 -   6/8/2003
 5/26/2003 -   6/1/2003
 5/19/2003 -  5/25/2003
 5/12/2003 -  5/18/2003
  5/5/2003 -  5/11/2003
 4/28/2003 -   5/4/2003
 4/21/2003 -  4/27/2003
 4/14/2003 -  4/20/2003
  4/7/2003 -  4/13/2003
 3/31/2003 -   4/6/2003
 3/24/2003 -  3/30/2003
 3/17/2003 -  3/23/2003
 3/10/2003 -  3/16/2003
  3/3/2003 -   3/9/2003
 2/24/2003 -   3/2/2003
 2/17/2003 -  2/23/2003
 2/10/2003 -  2/16/2003
  2/3/2003 -   2/9/2003
 1/27/2003 -   2/2/2003
 1/20/2003 -  1/26/2003
 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
  1/6/2003 -  1/12/2003
12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
 12/9/2002 - 12/15/2002
 12/2/2002 -  12/8/2002
11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
 11/4/2002 - 11/10/2002
10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
 10/7/2002 - 10/13/2002
 9/30/2002 -  10/6/2002
 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
 9/16/2002 -  9/22/2002
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 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
 7/22/2002 -  7/28/2002
 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, September 26, 2003
18:21 - Year of the Laptop

Apparently, whatever grand unified strategy Apple's got going for its laptop business is working.

Apple's American marketshare of laptops in the second quarter of this year jumped almost two percent from the previous quarter, making it one of the Mac maker's largest laptop share increases in well over two years, Think Secret has learned.

Numbers from industry market intelligence firm IDC showed Apple's biggest marketshare increase was in U.S.-sold laptops, rising from 5.1 percent, or 146,000 units sold, in the first quarter of this year, to 7.0 percent, or 216,000 units sold.

The increase from Apple's PowerBooks and iBooks moved the company from sixth spot to fifth place among laptop makers. For comparison, IBM was in fourth place with a 9.3 percent marketshare in American laptop sales.

Among other laptop makers, the industry average increase in U.S. laptop sequential sales for the second quarter was eight percent. Apple increase was a dramatic 48 percent -- the biggest jump among all manufacturers.

Wow. Thanks, Yao Ming and Mini-Me!

Seven percent. Ye gods. Those kinds of giddy numbers we haven't heard since the early 90s...

15:57 - Shake some sense into people

Forget yellowcake. Forget mass graves. Forget children's prisons. Forget weapons of mass destruction and pillaged museums, and especially oil.

Because this is what the anti-war forces were trying so hard to keep from happening. This is what the major media refuses to acknowledge is newsworthy or even positive.

Opinion polls conducted in Iraq since the war - by reputable polling agencies that have predicted election results across the world - have vindicated this view, showing that a large majority of Iraqis wanted the invasion. And there was therefore reason to hope that this visit to Iraq would be a happy one. None the less, I have spent the summer fearing for Sama, Yasser and Abtehale. Partly I was anxious for their physical safety: they were very close to the UN headquarters on the day the building was blown up, for example. But mostly I worried about their emotional health. All three had spent their lives pining for home. What if home disappointed them? What if the Iraqi people saw them as strangers? What if Iraqis did not want to hear them evangelise for democracy?

They returned to London earlier this month. The minute they arrived at my flat, beaming and speaking at a hundred words a minute, my fears evaporated. Abtehale began: "We were so scared that we might have been wrong. We kept thinking, `What if we get there and everybody hates us for supporting the war?' But it was amazing: almost everyone we met was more hawkish than us. All over the country, even people who really hated the Americans agreed it would have been a disaster if the war had been called off." Yasser said: "One of the first things my uncle said to me was that his greatest fear in the run-up to the war was that the Americans would do what they did in 1991 and leave us to Saddam."

Yet, Yasser admits: "The first fortnight, I was really, really depressed. Everyone in Iraq had been totally conditioned to wait to be told what to do by the state. Anybody with initiative got tortured or killed by Saddam, so people just waited for orders. So even after the liberation, they couldn't understand that they were free; they didn't know what it meant. But then I saw that gradually they were realising, and that day by day they were sort of defrosting."

The IPO people went to Iraq with clear goals. First, they wanted to establish debating societies and newsletters in the Baghdad universities. "These are going to be the seeds of democracy," Yasser explains. "Once you learn to argue against people instead of killing them as Saddam did, you're on your way. We explained to the university students that they could have different newspapers - and even have different opinions in the same newspapers - and it seemed totally surreal to them. They just couldn't understand it. But when they realised that it really was possible and nobody was going to punish them, they were so excited that they were just obsessed.

"They were in the middle of their exams and supposed to be studying, but they insisted on writing and photocopying a newsletter that they distributed everywhere. They wrote articles on amazing things they could find out about on the internet - philosophy and art and the difference between proportional representation and first-past-the-post! It was the best thing in my life, seeing that," Yasser says.

I could just quote and quote and quote. But read the whole thing, as they say. Please.

And then think about just what it means when 100,000 protesters gather in London to denounce the American presence in Iraq. Think of the "human shields" who went to Baghdad thinking they were doing the Iraqis a favor. Think about every anti-war slogan uttered by a friend or colleague.

And try to keep your gorge down.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste does the necessary expansion on this that I didn't have the wherewithal to write. On one level, the article-- and the knowledge that so many utterly morally corrupt people in the world staunchly oppose the changes that are described in it-- speak for themselves. But on another, the analysis needs to be done. The revolution must be described; the process must be put into words.

Thursday, September 25, 2003
01:09 - Bandwagon

These two guys appear to be trying to start a meme.

Well, who've I ever been to buck a trend?

(Well, hell, it's not like I have a toddling daughter or anything...)

20:30 - Google Perpetuates an Injustice

Okay, this just gives me warm fuzzies for some weird reason.

So there's this guy, right? Back in 1995, when he's like in high school and tinkering around with his 386 (like I was at the same time), he finds he needs drivers for his Trident video card. He goes on a newsgroup for video cards and posts a message asking about the drivers, which he later finds. All is well.

Or so he thinks. So begins a nightmare.

However, a YEAR later I started getting messages about Trident Video Drivers two or three times a week. People had seen my question and had somehow concluded that I was a representative of Trident and responsible for their lack of drivers, any random GPFs on their machines, etc. Needless to say, I was not particularly enthused.

I put up this page and crossed my fingers. Sure enough, the hidden counter on this page shows that it was accessed over 300 times in the first month or so it was up. Since I seem to have accidentally become one of the foremost sources for Trident Video Driver information on the WWW, I thought I would at least make whatever information I know available.

This page you are reading contains all I know about Trident Video Drivers. Please don't email me questions about drivers. I do not work for Trident either as employee or as a consultant. The only reason this page is here is to save me from having to deal with all the messages I receive.

And they presumably still send this guy messages about problems with their Trident video cards to this day. Why? Because if you do a Google search on "trident video", the first link returned is that of Trident Microsystems' corporate site... and the second is this guy's venerable page.

He'd hoped that putting up that site would save him from having to answer all those e-mails. He'd hoped that people would find the site, read his story, become enlightened as to the nature of Trident Microsystems' video chipsets and the non-presence of information about them on his site, and go away. He'd hoped that as Trident faded from the market, people would stop sending him those queries.

And now his site is Googlewhacked. And people like me, looking on a whim for Trident's corporate site to see if they still exist, stumble onto it and post thoughtless links to his page. So Googlebots can crawl all over it, its hit ranking can climb ever higher, and he becomes by accident the de facto authority on Trident technology on the Internet.

All because of one innocent newsgroup post in 1995.

Self-healing system, my ASS!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003
22:20 - That didn't go as planned

I heard a good portion of the California Recall Election debate on the way home; there was Huffington, McClintock, Bustamonte, that Green Party guy, and Ahnuld. The questions were prerecorded, but that doesn't mean the debate was boring.

Quite on the contrary-- it was a real free-for-all. Lots of personal attacks, lots of wild accusations, lots of numbers flung back and forth with little regard for their accuracy or timeliness. The moderator-- whose name I have to find out, as he wrangled these guys with the acerbic aplomb of a Clive Anderson-- was hard put to it to keep them on-topic, for instance to keep a question about how to raise state revenues from circling around into a slam on another candidate's sexual morality.

Impressions: The Green Party guy was completely nuts, as I pretty much suspected he would be. He thinks the fact that the US is the only industrialized nation in the world not to have socialized medicine is the greatest scandal ever, and made doubly so by the fact that illegal immigrants aren't covered equally with citizens. He was so caught up in his weepy, marshmallowy, sit-on-a-hillside-and-feed-the-bunnies-with-manna-from-heaven fantasyland that the other guys pretty much just ignored him, as well they should have.

Ariana Huffington was the most grating-- not because she managed one way or another to turn every single question into an attack on Schwartzenegger (which was admittedly rather easy to do), but because she was so self-righteous. She got to wear the mantle of put-upon-writer-struggling-in-this workaday-world as well as the I'm-smarter-than-everybody-else-here smugness and the big-corporations-are-evil public appeal and the please-think-of-the-children unsassailable attitude, the latter of which, when questioned, she got to turn into a barb at Arnold and "the way he treats women". Arnie retorted, "I think I have a role for you in Terminator 4," but just as he was about to say what it was, my engine died because I was right at the metering light on the on-ramp and I wasn't paying attention when I let out the clutch, and by the time I got the radio back on, the whole crowd was roaring and the moderator was saying "Hey, now, this isn't Comedy Central." Shoot.

But Arnold, now that it comes to him, was the biggest disappointment. He didn't come across as stupid, or even lacking in appropriate experience; he just didn't seem to be taking the whole thing seriously. It's mostly his doing that the debate was so chaotic-- he engaged in as much gleeful mud-slinging as Huffington did, and a lot funnier ("Yeah, you know all about tax shelters, don't you-- you had one last year that I could drive my Hummer through"). The only problem was, he seemed unprepared, and the mud he slung wasn't exactly of proper consistency (Huffington had a perfectly good explanation for that "tax shelter", which she told him about point-blank). He clearly had a lot of facts and figures memorized, but I think his was the crashiest of crash courses in California politics and finance, because the other candidates constantly picked apart his numbers, corrected him, and challenged him with posers that he answered only with cleverly worded platitudes. "Why should the richest 4% of Californians be taxed at a lower rate than the poorest?" asked the Green Guy. "I'm not even asking for a progressive tax-- just a flat one. Why won't you simply agree with me on this one little point?" And Arnold responded by muttering about how Mr. Green should move to Massachusetts. He seemed, more than anybody else, to have been working from a script, and he didn't acquit himself particularly well. I'd been getting the impression for a while that he wasn't taking the election seriously enough to be able to win; but now I'm afraid he's not looking like someone I want to vote for.

Bustamonte reminded me of nobody so much as Brian, the dog from Family Guy. Constantly rolling his eyes, sighing, muttering "Yeah..." and "Uhhnh" and "Well...." over other candidates' statements. I'd have found this annoying, except that the reason why he usually had to do such a thing was to correct some factual error of Schwartzenegger's. Arnie accused Bustamonte of hypocrisy in advocating spending on education but then cutting hundreds of millions from the state education budget in consort with Gray Davis; Cruz carefully, and with admirable restraint, pointed out that he had been the author of the bill to inrease such spending; he even had to reiterate it after Arnie harped on it in rebuttal with some ramble about his after-school programs, which it seemed he was clinging to with some desperation as his last bargaining card.

"I'm the only one here who has been in business! Nobody else here has had to meet payroll or pay for employees' health care!"
"Uh, Arnold, that's not tr--"
"You know what you politicians do all the time? You--"
"<sigh> No, Arnold. What do we do?"
"You invent all these causes, you come in for a photo-op, and then you leave and are never seen again. I sponsored after-school programs for inner-city youth..."

...And so on. I really felt for the man after a while; but then he joined the throng with his position that illegal immigrants should not only be given drivers' licenses, but full medical coverage, social benefits, legal protection-- all that rot. And Huffington, in her smarmy I-can't-be-beholden-to-special-interests role, took him to task for giving preferential treatment to Indian gaming and other groups who'd heavily supported him. So he's no angel. The guy seemed the most like someone hard at work down in the trenches; at least he seemed sincere about his commitment to the job. But that doesn't make me want to vote for him.

The big surprise, though, was Tom McClintock. He impressed the hell out of me. He was the most concise, well-spoken, restrained, and effective speaker on the whole panel-- and what's more, he seemed alone in the group in having his head screwed on straight and California's priorities in order. When the question of health care and drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants came up, McClintock was the only one to give the debate its real name: allowing illegal immigrants special treatment. "Illegal immigration is the act of cutting in line," he said. While Green Man and Bustamonte and Huffington had spent a lyrical five minutes each crooning about how illegal immigrants are our biggest source of Cheap Labor (there's that term again), picking our vegetables and building our skyscrapers and digging our ditches and getting the least pay-- McClintock was the only one to point out that illegal immigration undermines the very process of legal immigration that's what makes this state so great. (Green Man had whimpered about how immigration was a human problem, not a legal one, and the very term illegal was unfair and barbaric when one thinks how every one of us, were we in the shoes of one of the Noble Ancient Inhabitants of This Continent and living in another country, would cross the border to get a better life For Our Children.) Huffington had smirkingly berated Arnold for opposing the drivers' licenses for illegals (sorry, undocumented immigrants) while he himself-- horror, shock!-- was an immigrant! But even Arnold didn't point out the crucial distinction: Arnold had come to this country legally. Arnold had followed the rules. Arnold had made the sacrifices that entitled a person to benefit from our State services-- whereas illegal immigrants are sneaking over the border and cheating the system that so many others are following so dutifully. But McClintock was the only one up there willing to stand up for our immigration laws (some of the most lenient in the world, already) and the virtues they exist to uphold. Arnie had only been able to ramble about how giving licenses to illegals presented a "security risk" because it didn't involve a background check. C'mon, Arnie. As a legal immigrant yourself, couldn't you have pointed out the ethical distinction between rewarding a person for working hard within the system, and rewarding a person for finding a way around it? ...McClintock was also the only one to stand up in favor of Prop. 54, which will prohibit the government from collecting any racial data on citizens. The Democrats and the Green Guy all said this was terrible-- how can we know we have a colorblind society if we don't collect information on everybody's skin color?-- and Arnie just rambled about how "equality is good"; only McClintock matter-of-factly stated that the only way we'll get a colorblind society is by stepping back and forcing ourselves to stop obsessing over race-- to become one "race", an American race, unified and equal under the law.

I'm afraid Arnie is cruising to lose my vote; he has his heart in the right place, and I think he could probably do well in the job as long as he put together a top-drawer team of advisers, because they'd sift the data for him and he would make the right decisions. But McClintock alone among the candidates showed himself not only to be principled and dedicated and intelligent, but also clear-sighted and able to do his own data-sifting. I still think it might be good for California to have someone like Arnie shake things up a bit, again, provided he has a crack team of handlers making sure he knows what his cards really and factually look like; I think he's a very smart guy, with a lot of things going for him. He just doesn't do too well when the spotlight's on him, which is really weird. My only worry is that he'd treat the governorship-- not like the WWF, but like Comedy Central, as Clive the Moderator said.

McClintock, I'm not sure if I trust him yet. I'll have to do a little more research to see whether his principles are tempered by humanity, or whether he's the kind of guy you've got to watch out for because he thinks he knows what's best for you. But he's scored big with me tonight.

UPDATE: Dammit, I can't compete with LGF's Dar ul Harb:

Next on Fox!

Celebrity catfight! Arianna Huffington tries to claw her way up from the bottom of the pile, but barely scratches the semi-synthetic skin of Governator Ahnold. Ahnold remains focused on protecting the "programs for the children."

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante anchors the opposite end of the dais from the Governator, exuding the powerfully subdued condescension field loaned to him by the Al Gore 2000 campaign, but it proves unable to radiate far enough to fully absorb Ahnold's charisma.

The Green Party's Peter Camejo, product of an unlikely fusion of genetic material obtained by space aliens from former New York mayors Ed Koch and Rudy Guliani, attempted to appeal to those Californians from "every planet on the Earth" --a highly sought-after group of voters still undecided about the recall, according to former Gov. Gray Davis.

State Sen. Tom McClintock stayed on his conservative message, and out of the Governator's line of fire, by an innovative strategy of answering the questions, which had been provided to the candidates in advance. This proved attractive to voters confused by the helleno-germanic crosstalk, and thankful for the clarity of McClintock's American English diction (even if he did bloody well curse in British during his answer about Sacramento's relationship to municipalities).

Can Governator Ahnold overcome the loss of conservative Republicans to McClintock, and go on to beat Bustamante, tackle the special interests in Sacramento, the state budget deficit, and the state's decaying infrastructure, while at the same time funding health care and afterschool programs for the children?

Or will Gov. Davis' parting words be "Et tu, Cruz?"

UPDATE: Or Frank J, either, though that should surprise nobody. Best line: "Arianna Huffington died as she lived: extremely off topic."

16:41 - Good corporate citizen

Just got a bulletin from the FreeBSD-Security list, as periodically happens; this one's an ARP DOS attack, a potential liability against attackers on the LAN. It affects all flavors of BSD. Middling risk, though not if you've got a well-controlled data center. Worth noting and patching.

But here's what caught my eye:

Hash: SHA1

FreeBSD-SA-03:14.arp Security Advisory
The FreeBSD Project

Topic: denial of service due to ARP resource starvation

Category: core
Module: sys
Announced: 2003-09-23
Credits: Apple Product Security <product-security@apple.com>
Affects: All releases of FreeBSD
FreeBSD 4-STABLE prior to the correction date
Corrected: 2003-09-23 16:42:59 UTC (RELENG_4, 4.9-PRERELEASE)
2003-09-23 20:08:42 UTC (RELENG_5_1, 5.1-RELEASE-p6)
2003-09-23 20:07:06 UTC (RELENG_5_0, 5.0-RELEASE-p15)
2003-09-23 16:44:58 UTC (RELENG_4_8, 4.8-RELEASE-p8)
2003-09-23 16:47:34 UTC (RELENG_4_7, 4.7-RELEASE-p18)
2003-09-23 16:49:46 UTC (RELENG_4_6, 4.6-RELEASE-p21)
2003-09-23 16:51:24 UTC (RELENG_4_5, 4.5-RELEASE-p33)
2003-09-23 16:52:45 UTC (RELENG_4_4, 4.4-RELEASE-p43)
2003-09-23 16:54:39 UTC (RELENG_4_3, 4.3-RELEASE-p39)
FreeBSD only: NO

What, you mean Apple is acting as a proactive contributor to the BSD/UNIX community?! A commercial computer vendor specializing in making dumbed-down Fisher-Price computers for melonheads? Doing valuable work for open-source UNIXdom? Who'da thunk?

15:18 - Making a scandal out of a scandal

I mentioned to my roommate the other day how the relentless negativity coming from all the news networks regarding post-war Iraq, even in the face of countless reports by returning servicemen (covered by bloggers but nobody in the major media) of the amazing progress and positive atmosphere there, has reached "scandal" proportions; he disagreed, saying that if nobody knew about it but bloggers, then it wasn't much of a scandal, was it?

Okay, point. But evidently the blogosphere isn't about to let that be the end of the matter.
Time for Bloggers to Fight a Front in the Real War

Poking fun at Glenn Reynolds has been amusing, but I think I have a real cause for us blog writers and blog readers to work for now.

As I've said before on my own site, I don't get legitimately angry that often, but one thing has been pissing me off lately, and that's the coverage of the war in the media. All we hear is the negative news, and everything is painted to make the war look like a failure. Yet, anytime I talk to one of our troops who has actually been in Iraq, the outlook is quite different. I hear how nice and thankful the Iraqi people are. I hear of all the progress that is being made. I hear of the schools the troops have help built, and how big Marines are sitting on teeter-totters and swing sets teaching Iraqi kids how to use them since those children have never had a playground before.

And I never hear any of this in the major media.

Some of this is just the habit of media to dwell on the negative, but not all of it. These are stories people want to hear, but too many news organizations have no interest in them. And I don't think I'm going to far out on limb to say some of them are purposely ignoring any good news to try to spin victory into failure. They are trying to fight a propaganda war.

Well, let's fight back.

Hear, hear. And the fact that this is Frank J leading the charge is quite something-- it's a real testament to how even the bloggers who are normally thought of as "humorists" (the blog world's equivalent of color commentators) might turn out to be the ones who really make a difference.

Now, it's encouraging to see that Dan Rather has begin issuing little disclaimers saying "Of course, in other parts of Iraq, things are going quite well", and Democratic lawmakers are starting to come out of the closet and admit that this incessant campaign on the part of the media to convince the American public that going to Iraq was a bad idea is, itself, counterproductive and indeed deeply, deeply insulting to our achievements and our true intentions. Yes, yes, everybody's leery of patriotic jingoism in the evening news. But it's entirely possible to go too far in the opposite direction, you know? And it should eventually occur to even the most cynical and self-despising liberal that anything that prolongs the resistance effort, encourages guerillas into thinking they can "pull a Mogadishu", or impedes reconstruction is just going to end up costing more American lives and dollars-- and if that doesn't soften their hearts, maybe the thought of a half-rebuilt Iraq plunging back into dictatorship and oppression just so the anti-Bush forces can prove a point will.

It's the 21st century, and there are still too many evil dictatorships out there. America and its allies finally did something about one. There was terrible murderous regime in Iraq oppressing 24 million people, and now that regime is gone and those people have hope. There are millions more who could use that hope as well, but there are forces out there to make sure that does not happen. They want to tell us we are losing. They want tell they enemy they are winning. This is no small thing. Public opinion, both in America and world wide, will affect the outcome of this war. If Iraq is seen as a victory, it could cause the collapse of more evil regimes because they'll know they are next. If it is seen as a failure - a “quagmire” -then evil is encouraged and strengthened.

Frank has instructions on what we can do. Fortunately there already seems to be traction building, and I think many Americans are starting to get tired of the cognitive dissonance between what they hear from their returning soldier sons and daughters about how well things are going in most of Iraq, and MoveOn.org claiming that:

" Congress must withhold the $87 billion requested by President Bush until he dismisses the team responsible for the quagmire in Iraq -- starting with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld -- and ends the U.S. occupation of Iraq by transferring authority for rebuilding to the U.N. "

I mean, really. What outcome do you guys actually hope for? Why not say what you really feel?

So let's get some of those good ol' grass roots planted and dug in. If this is going to be a scandal, let's make it a scandal that'll make MonicaGate look like V-E Day.

12:03 - What, no G5-blogging yet?

Nope, not yet. I've been a little bit on the squeezed side since getting home yesterday, what with transferring all my old data across the network (12GB of MP3s and AACs, 20GB of DV projects, and assorted gigabytes of other detritus) and burning and installing the new seed build of Panther on the downstairs iMac. I've also not been exactly thrilled about the prospect of typing things using the new machine, because, well...

... Ahem.

Okay, see, one of the main reasons why I wanted to get a new machine was that it would be an excuse to get a new keyboard. Yeah, yeah, I could have just gone and gotten a new keyboard. I know. But it's a psychological thing, y'know? Package unity and all that. Besides, the computer itself was more compelling than the new keyboard; it was just icing to be able to type on a keyboard that's nice and new and has keys whose plastic pegs aren't worn down to sticky nubs like my old keyboard.

(I was also reluctant to get rid of that keyboard, sucky though it had become, because it's one of those old iMac-style keyboards that's about four inches shorter than the regular keyboards, with little chiclet arrow and F-keys-- a separate keypad, but a very small footprint. I liked it because I could slide it under my monitor, which if you know the geometry of the Cinema Displays is a pretty cool thing-- I liked being able to reclaim that desk space to write checks and things. But on my new desk, that isn't an issue, or possible, because a) the keyboard is in a tray, which I find acceptable now for some reason; and b) the monitor is on an adjustable platform, which means it's no longer contiguous with the desk surface. So I can safely get a full-sized keyboard and enjoy it without regret, finally.)

So yesterday I come home, find the Big Black Box (tripping over it with a Short Sharp Shock), drag it upstairs, slice it tremblingly open, lift out the big cardboard Mao-poster beauty-shot cover sheet, reveal the top piece of styrofoam into which all the accessories are nestled--

...And there's no keyboard.


So I'll call Sales Support in a few minutes and make them make it all better. But in the meantime, typing (using the old keyboard) is sort of a bittersweet pleasure: damn, these keys are tiny and sticky. But that text sure does respond fast.

Sigh. Anyway.

Fast? Yes, it's fast, thank you for asking. It makes me gulp. It makes me flutter my eyelids. It makes me roll around on the floor with snakes clutched in my fists. The first time it booted it had to grind the disk a bit, but the second time-- after all the caches had been set up and everything-- it went straight from black-POST-screen to gray-spinner-thing (about five seconds) to BLUEPROGRESSSCREENTOLOGIN. Seriously. It spent all of a third of a second on the progress-bar dialog screen. ZAP! BLUEBAR! GONE! And then the desktop's up. Made my heart leap into my throat, except it got distracted, lost its footing, and impaled itself on my sternum on the way up, and I had to squirm around under my desk for a few minutes listening in the dark to the sound of the computer's fans.

Did I mention that it's really really really quiet?

Seriously. It's frickin' quiet.

There are like nine fans in there, right? I mean, look at the internal architecture-- this thing is mutant. The fans both push and pull, the whole interior is divided into regions specifically optimized for airflow.... and those nine fans put out about as much noise as two iMacs. Which is to say, not bloody much.

I powered the thing on, and the fans went wwhhwwhhooooooOOOOOOOOOO-- (at this point I was thinking, oh great, it's louder than my G4-- then, suddenly, OOOOOoooghglooppphtmmmmmmmm. And it's over. There's so little noise that if I close the door to the compartment under the desk, I can barely tell it's on. It's not a vibratey whooooshing noise, either, like so many PC fans that I've been used to; rather, it's a turbine-like, humming, sideways, musical noise, with harmonics and a gentle texture, like a suspended chord-- it feels like being in that exhaust vent in Galaxy Quest. Like I'm in the middle of a spaceship that's somehow, oddly, alive-- but is making a big show of keeping quiet about it all in case the aliens hear.

Now, what's going to take some getting used to is the way these fans respond to CPU load. The more the computer does, the more the fans spin up. It's like having one of those CPU-load meters on your screen, but instead of visual feedback, it's auditory. I can tell exactly how loaded the thing is just by listening. (How... industrial.) The fans have yet to get to a level that I'd call loud, but the difference is definitely noticeable-- and if effects the changes in speed in a very graduated, analog way. I sync my IMAP mailboxes: mmmmwwwwwwooooowwwmmmmmm. I import a CD in Tunes: mmmmmmmRRRRRWWWWRRRRRRmmmmmmm. I connect to my old machine over the network, mount my scratch disk, and start downloading twelve gigabytes of music files, getting about ten megabytes per second, pegging the hundred-net, and some little fan somewhere in there mysteriously fires up its teeny little spindle so it's making a very high-pitched but very quiet ssssquueeeeeeeel-- you know, the kind of dog-hearing-range thing that you know you can hear, but that you're not sure any service tech would ever believe you about if you tried pointing it out to them. Like a big TV set that you just bought over your wife's objections for thousands of dollars, only to find out that it makes this unbearable eardrum-piercing electronic whine, which you know you'll have to just get used to in order to maintain your pride, or else take it ignominiously to the shop to have them rub their chins, replace a few miscellaneous unrelated parts that they have to back-order for six weeks, charge you five hundred bucks, take it home, and have the same whine appear (though you're sure at least it's a little bit quieter) as soon as you turn it on. But then the transfer completes, and EEEEEeeeeewwwwmmmmmm. All gone.

What, does the Ethernet chipset have its own fan? Or does AppleTalk have its own hardware subsystem? I can't figure that one out.

But anyway: importing that CD? 19x at the top end. Not bad. I was admittedly hoping for something like 25x-- but hell, I'm not complaining. Mail is laser-quick now-- I can just about hold down the "down" button and it'll process the read-status of all my notification messages in real-time, instead of like in the old one, where I had to wait for each one to finish exchanging data before I could scroll to the next one. All better now.

Flurry is a thing of beauty now.

Is it faster than a comparably priced Xeon-based Dell? Who knows? Apple says one thing, "L" says another, and I'm sure nobody knows the real answer, if there is such a thing. But PC Magazine did a head-to-head review and found that the G5 trounced the Dell in real-world applications like converting Word documents and converting images, but lost in most of the Photoshop trials. But it was a pretty close race in most of those numbers. (And the G5 did way better in Final Cut Pro! Nyuk, nyuk.) The upshot is that, well, it's pretty frickin' fast-- and the reviewers were favorable-- heavily-- on every subject except the keyboard and mouse. (Hardly surprising, that.)

When Apple's Steve Jobs introduced the Apple Power Mac G5 this summer as the fastest personal computer any company had built to date, we took it with a grain of salt. After all, Apple had made that boast in the past, and those claims did not tend to hold up when independent third parties (such as ourselves) ran tests on current, real-world applications (not the synthetic benchmark tests Apple cited).

Well, we'll take that salt with a side of fries. After testing a loaded ($4,349 direct, after we opted for more RAM and upgraded graphics) dual 2.0-GHz Power Mac G5 on a range of high-end content creation applications and comparing the results with a similarly configured (and priced) Dell Precision 650 Workstation running dual 3.06-GHz Xeon processors, we see that indeed the G5 is generally as fast as the best Intel-based workstations currently available.

And even better, the comments are full of people-- PC guys-- saying they might just have to give one of these puppies a try. It looks like Apple's done themselves proud.

(Wait. Is this thing still on? I can't hear anything.)

(Oh, wait. Yeah. I forgot already.)

Photos later.

Oh, and one more little bit of annoyance: the G5's slots are all PCI-X. Which is not backward-compatible with 5V PCI cards. Like my SCSI card.

So my scanner, that erstwhile Microtek 6400XL with its long-suffering SCSI cable, is at long last left high and dry.

I think this time I'll finally just take a big ol' swig at the suck pipe and sell it on Ebay, and pick up a 9800XL-- which is essentially the same scanner, except with FireWire. No more SCSI for me, thankyouverymuch. I think I've put in more than enough penance in dealing with that thing, and it's time to end my dependence on Adaptec's corporate mercy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003
17:18 - Like No Other

Boy, these guys are something else.

"L" is apparently the brand name-- and they've evidently started up an ad campaign called "Like no other". Using a site design that's directly cribbed from Apple's, right down to the product-photos-against-white, the row of shiny tab/buttons at the top (except these are carefully designed to look like WinXP widgets, rather than Aqua ones), and the cutesy slogan captions everywhere. Of course they forgot the part about "don't make it so garish it hurts your eyes", but for the most part they followed the book quite faithfully.

Look at these monitors. "Cinerama Displays", they call 'em. (Now that's original. And isn't "Cinerama" copyrighted?) Three- and four-panel LCD banks, for that reeeeally widescreen feel.

And then there's this laptop: the Hollywood. 17". Widescreen. The "most spectacular, desirable, fastest, and full featured PC super-notebook ever built".

For a meager $2199-$5909 price range.

Here's Kris' take on its specs:
(H)x(W)x(D): 1.7"x15.4"x10.8"
"remarkably small frame at only 1.7" thin. " - quote
7.9lbs w/o Battery and Bay options
without the battery..... without the battery OR bay options... so loaded would be 10lbs?
Intel® P4 3.2GHz
battery would last, what? Maybe 2 minutes.
3.5 Floppy Drive
Built-in 3-Mode
a must for this century
Video Out
High-resolution S-Video Out with independent image settings controls
no DVI?
10/100 Ethernet LAN PCI Controller
gigabit - a bit too far?
Ultra-high performance air duct and FreeFlow™ architecture.
Variable speed-fan digital microprocessor control with multiple temperature sensing points.
High-density Multi-stage Methanol Copper Heatpipe CPU heatsink design with precision pressure plates.
Oversized double-blade Q-Fan architecture with adaptive vibration cancelling technology.
Independent Chipset/ Graphics Adapter and critical component Multi-distribution side heatsinks.
HD, DDR, and power supply electrical components independent air ducts.
which means it blows... and, uh, sucks...
CacheFlow ™Technology *
Upgradeable** or Built-in
from you to them?

Don't miss the tables where they explain how they beat the G5 in SPECfp and SPECint tests-- and not just that, but the Intel CPUs that Apple reported with scores of 646 and 693 show up here turning in a 1201 and a 1053. Fascinating. (I wonder what happened to the word "dual" in those scores.)

Even the background image shown on the screens of these machines and displays is a ripoff of the Mac OS X default screen. Oh, and they expect lots of disgruntled Mac users to come swooping down upon the site, because right at the top is this note:
Mac users only: You may experience linking errors when using the main navegation bar above, with both the Internet Explorer and Safari Browsers. We are looking into the issue and correcting it as soon as the technical issues have been identified. PC users are not affected by this.

Yeah, well, some companies don't seem to have trouble programming "navegation" bars.

(Did I mention that these guys' desktop machines start at $2999 and go up to $6369? Such a deal.)

No other PC in its category you compare it with, comes even closes. Nothing. Period. Truly, like no other.

Yeah, well... can you do this? <twirls around, does a handstand>


UPDATE: Chris points out that the discrepancy in the P4/Xeon SPEC numbers between what L and Apple claim probably stems from the much-publicized decision on Apple's part to use a non-optimized GCC; whereas L almost certainly used Intel's own compiler, which was probably hyperthreading-enabled. Thing is, the non-optimized GCC is intended to match the real world (PC software vendors couldn't exactly get away with shipping hyperthreading-optimized software to their whole customer base, where it wouldn't work at all).

Underhanded? Yeah. Likely? Who knows. But considering the number of typos and sloppy layout and deliberately misleading sleaze all over L's site, from which it becomes all but a self-parody, I have a hard time believing that their SPEC numbers-- alone in the site-- are trustworthy.

UPDATE: Jay Random writes with the following:

go-l.com is, of course, a hoax. Not an unamusing one, mind you. There is no such chip as the 3.8 GHz P4 they advertise on their top-end desktop; most of the other specs are faked, subtly or not so subtly, to make the weenies drool without actually being possible. The so-called -35ºC cooling system is a particular hoot. So is the 57" 'Cinerama Display' (but the trademark holders for Cinerama are reportedly not amused). The '3-D LCD' for the laptops is pure demented genius. Have you got your 3-D glasses ready, kids? Didn't think so.

The clincher: If you try to actually buy anything from their 'store', you will be absolutely defeated. The 'Store' button on the 'navegation' bar either takes you to the News page, or does nothing. If you click the text link at the bottom of the page, you reach an ostensible 'Store' page, but if you click any of the buttons to buy a product, the server ignores you. Your browser will tell you it's loading a page, but the page never loads -- & you never get a 404 error either. Also, the Visa, MC & Amex logos on the Store page are fake, a sure sign that 'l' has no merchant account with any of them & doesn't want them to sue.

I am told that the dummy corporation has been traced & the hoaxers identified. Enjoy the joke while it lasts.

Awww! I wanted a Grand Canyon display! I had $18,000 just burning a hole in my pocket!

That's one elaborate hoax, though. I'm particularly impressed by the careful engineering of the specs to make them both droolworthy and mockable at the same time. I suppose all the typos and miscoded JavaScript are also all part of the act?


16:43 - Someone's been busy

Just got the "New Music Tuesdays" e-mail from the iTunes Music Store. Popped open the "All Just Added" link, and... whoah! This is the biggest weekly addition of songs they've done since... ever. Easily several hundred albums, and probably thousands of songs. It took me ten minutes to scroll through them all.

Oddly, though, I hardly recognized any of them. There was hardly any pop or rock stuff in it-- some George Thorogood and Pearl Jam, but the vast majority of the listing was made up of bands with names with "Mountain" or "River" or "Boys" or "Brothers" in them. It's like, this week they decided to add the genre entirely populated with the cast of O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

And the albums by "Various Artists" (boy, that guy's prolific) were out in force too. Five whole screenfuls of albums-- each one a compilation or soundtrack, many of which were "inspirational", reggae, polka, Cajun... lots of underground-ish sorts of stuff. I half wonder if maybe this is the week where they've opened the floodgates for all those indie artists they've been furiously signing up.

It's Christmas every Tuesday in Mac-land.

15:27 - What? Already?

Just received word that there's a big black cardboard box waiting for me at home.

(I guess I can trust the people in Sales Support. After my ship date was bumped back a month, to "on or before 9/29", I called them up to see if they could tell me any further details. The lady said, "Expect to see it go out on the 22nd or 23rd." And lo and behold, it took them all of twelve hours after they sent the ship announcement e-mail.)

(Hang in there, James.)

Monday, September 22, 2003
23:45 - Vocabulary lesson

Here's a new word for you, kids: bias crime.

NEWARK, N.J. - Police are investigating a graffiti attack on several buildings on Rutgers University's main campus in New Brunswick, including a Jewish community center and a fraternity house, as a bias crime.

On Saturday morning, swastikas were found spray-painted on Rutgers Hillel. They were also painted on the porch and front door of Alpha Epsilon Pi, an historically Jewish fraternity.

Three other buildings were damaged by spray paint, but no swastikas were painted on them, police said.

Got that? Bias crime.

Like giving unfair news coverage to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, or like defending Sammy Sosa after the corked-bat thing because you're a Cubs fan.

Or like spray-painting swastikas on campus Hillel buildings.

Y'know. It's all just the same. Simple bias. That's all.

(Via LGF.)

23:23 - And this next player wants to hit the ball too. And he does! And everyone is happy! And there he goes, off in that direction.

Did anyone else happen to catch the Commonwealth Club address, recorded on the 19th, of Prince Bandar bin Sultan?

To hear him speak, America and Saudi Arabia are better friends than any other two countries on Earth. "Flattery sweet as honey dripped from his tongue," as they say. He threw the floor open, rather than "giving the party line" (his words), and fielded open questions from people about anti-American sentiment in Saudi Arabia and suchlike. He answered everything with Oxford-don loquacity; it's hard not to believe the guy.

Except when he says things like: "Unfortunately, Monday Morning quarterbacks are all over the place-- and I must note, I watch Monday Morning Football... I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, and so I saw the game-- and was pleased with the result, I might add... anyway--"

Now, I admit I'm not as big a football fan (of America's Team™, no less) as Prince Bandar bin Madden, but isn't it Monday Night Football?

And he sounded so sincere...

15:29 - Meaningless mantras

I started thinking this morning (a dangerous pastime, I know) about the concept of "diversity". I'd been wondering just where all this Western self-loathing has come from-- this collective national guilt at sharing citizenship with the evil rich white males who run the wooorrrld-- and just sort of found myself pondering what leads people to plaster bumper stickers on their cars that plead for "diversity" above all other goals. If a rainbow-colored "Celebrate Diversity" sticker is alone on the back of a car, without even a "peace" symbol or that blue square thing with the yellow "equals" sign to accompany it, does that mean the person considers "diversity" to be the absolute most important thing this country has to work on? Or is it just a passive, feel-good way to say "Hey, I'm not a racist, not that you were gonna accuse me of being one or anything, oh, and I'm so sorry for being white"?

I'd like to know just since when a lack of diversity has been a problem, though? (I mean, we already have people from every planet on Earth in this state.) On NPR the other night, Sound Money was interviewing the chief of a Socially Responsible Investment mutual fund; and she said that one of the three big planks of what makes an SRI is that it buys companies that actively work to "promote diversity". Okay, um... maybe I just haven't been in the workforce long enough or worked at enough companies to notice, but-- it seems to me there's plenty of diversity in companies today. The engineering team at my company has members who are black, white, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Hispanic, Australian, Texan, and Hippie. In surprisingly equal measure. Know how many outreach programs the company engages in so as to be "socially conscious" in keeping ethnic balance in its hiring practices?

Okay, well, maybe that's because it's a technology company, and we hire anybody who's competent, because economically we can't afford not to. But I can drive down the street and look in the windows of businesses in strip malls, and you know what I don't see? Signs saying NO IRISH NEED APPLY or WHITES ONLY. Wonder why that could be?

Maybe because "diversity in the workplace" was a genuine goal that needed to be pursued about a hundred years ago, but now it's just a silly conceit. Like holding a picket rally demanding for cars to have four wheels, or supporting federal funding to get more kids to use the Internet.

The beauty of it is that no matter where you look, you see evidence that it must be working!

Whenever I see a "celebrate diversity" bumper sticker, then, or hear about some mutual fund that seeks out companies that actively try to "promote diversity", I get unbidden mental images of just what that means. Maybe I'll show up at work one of these days with a big cake, decorated with candy people in all different colors holding hands in a big circle. I'll go around and hand a piece to each member of the team, and say, "Boy, I'm sure glad you're      (race)     ! Thanks for being part of this company!" Then I'll go home and tell the guy who spent this morning with a couple of subcontractors jackhammering out the big concrete slabs from behind the house, "Hey, way to hire Hispanic people for menial labor! Kudos to you! I bet they'll appreciate it even more if you learn a few more than six words of Spanish!" And I'll pass out beers. Maybe I'll go back to my college, where Asian students outnumbered White ones by a pretty good margin, and demand that Admissions give more favorable treatment to Caucasian applicants. All in the name of Diversity!

It reminds me of a time when I was working at an ISP back in my hometown. There was this one customer, a thin, mousy guy on those arm-crutches that spoke of a past injury or malady-- your heart just went out to him. (This was in 1996, so the Internet was brand-new, and home users walking in to sign up typically had not the slightest clue what "going online" was all about. It was still the age when people had 286 boxes they'd bought in 1986, and they'd heard about this "Internet" thing that they could get on and have sex.) So this guy comes in and signs up for an account; he asks us in this slow, careful, halting voice that makes you wonder whether he's got some kind of mental impediment what all the details are to the process of getting information that's on these "web sites" he's heard about. He wants to find out information about healthful water systems, herbal healing, that sort of thing. He wants a regular user account; he wants unlimited hours. He even signs up for a domain name, which he plans to use in selling herbal holistic remedies or something. We spend about an hour teaching him how to do everything he's going to need to do, how to search for information on the Web, how to find the important sites for the interests he has and the business he wants to run; he keeps asking the same uncertain questions, sounding scared and overwhelmed. He takes his time to convey crucial words, like "in-for-mation"; he clearly has something very important in his head, and he's determined to get it, but something's just not quite gelling. Eventually, though, he seems timidly satisfied, pays for the account and services, stands up, and quivers his way back out of the office.

A week later, he appears again at our door. He has more questions. Specifically, he wants to know about "bulletin board systems". He's heard about BBSes as this other "thing" you can do with your modem. We look at him, brows furrowed. Well, we're an Internet provider; we don't have anything to do with BBSes. What do you want to go on them for, anyway?

And he wobbles, looks pleadingly from one of our faces to another, and says uncertainly, "Because... they have... in-for-mation..."

It's just a word he'd latched onto. Something that was already on the Internet in abundance beyond historical precedent, but that, to him, was something he always needed more of. Like diversity.

Look: "Diversity" is not something we need to actively work towards. Racist hiring practices are not a palpable problem anywhere in this country. If an incident of such a thing is discovered, it becomes-- or, I daresay, would become-- a huge scandal. We get far more negative blowback because of affirmative action and a desire to have "diversity" above all else (witness Jayson Blair) than because of anything that even hints of the things that affirmative action was supposedly supposed to combat. The cure has gone well into the worse-than-the-disease category.

And if someone tries to get me to buy into a "socially conscious investment" mutual fund, one whose paramount goals include stamping out that pervasive racism problem in publicly traded corporations' hiring policies in America, I'm going to smile, nod, and go and seek funds that are more interested in making money than in solving a problem that no longer exists.

UPDATE: John writes to say:

If you strive for excellence as your primary goal, you will attain diversity by default.

If you strive for diversity above all else, excellence will suffer.

Unless you are the NBA.

13:45 - World travelers

Via Tim Blair, a Canadian guy studying in San Francisco takes one of those globe-trotting, apologizing-for-America's-existence backpacking tours to discover what it's like in the places that we call evil:

In the end I just tried to absorb the situation and try to read as much as I could about it. I found out later, when he left the car, that he was a government official working in intelligence for the national broadcasting company. But he was not complaining about the conversation in the car, he was the one complaining about the government. His frustration was to the point where he was almost losing control, he needed to vent or he would burst.

Many of the people in the cabs in Tehran had the similar thoughts. "Tell George Bush to come and get rid of the mullahs for us." I was shocked by the openness of that statement. With one fellow I tried to discuss it with him in more detail to see if he really meant it or was just talking. I told him that if George Bush came and got rid of the Mullahs, it would not be to help the people of Iran; he would be coming for the oil. The fellow replied, "He can have the oil, its not doing us any good anyway and at least then we would be free."

Either way, I'm sure we can find it in our hearts to sell them some of that oil we've stolen from Iraq. At a modest markup, of course.

Oh, and I like this part:

Midway through the tour we stop for a refreshing beverage. I drink my juice and my guide, with a sly smile, tells me to look at my cup. I see that written on the side of it are the words "Down with USA". Ouch. I chuckle a little and tell him that's very interesting. He tells me to read the other side of the cup, which I see says "Down with Israel". He's smiling quite gleefully, like he just did something brilliant, and I'm laughing along with him, because it's so banal. I mean really, is that it? After that, I headed over to a friends home for some khoresh e seeb, and ghormeh sabzi.

Maybe the reason "why they hate us" is that although we've got it amazingly good here, we're squandering it with self-hatred. Our problem isn't chauvinism; it's the opposite. We live in a place the rest of the world dreams of living, but we're too blinded by guilt to appreciate it.

I suppose I'd hate us too.

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© Brian Tiemann