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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Saturday, December 6, 2003
11:00 - The F-bomb
http://www.nypost.com/news/nationalnews/43544.htm

(top)
The obvious question one must ask: Is this what the Democrats are reduced to?

Sen. Kerry (Mass.) used the undeleted expletive to express his frustration and anger over how the Iraq issue has hurt him because he voted for the war resolution while Democratic front-runner Howard Dean has soared by opposing it.

"I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to f - - - it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did," Kerry told the youth-oriented magazine.

Brookings Institution presidential scholar Stephen Hess said he can't recall another candidate attacking a president with X-rated language in a public interview.

"It's so unnecessary," Hess said. "In a way it's a kind of pandering [by Kerry] to a group he sees as hip . . . I think John Kerry is going to regret saying this."

You know what? I don't think Bush has a thing to worry about next year.

At least not from the Democrats.

Friday, December 5, 2003
17:12 - There's a frightening thought
http://www.nypost.com/business/12500.htm

(top)
Steve Jobs in charge of Disney?

It could happen, if rumors were legally binding. Sent by Mark:

As far as the entertainment industry and Wall Street would be concerned, the most welcome second-in-charge and nominal successor to Eisner could be none other than Steven Paul Jobs - head of Apple Computer and Pixar,and the guy who currently has Disney over one massive barrel.

"That one's been around for a while," says a Disney spokesperson.

Indeed. But sources out in the land of warmth say speculation that the Disney Co. would be forced to offer Jobs a position - if only a seat on the board - intensified this week, as soon as Roy Disney's keister had cleared the company parking lot.

But there are problems, naturally.

For one thing, Eisner apparently doesn't much like Jobs, either.

And the famously independent Jobs, who founded Apple Computer in his family's garage, apparently has been returning the dislike ever since Eisner accused Apple in Washington of abetting video piracy.

Yeah, that's okay-- nobody likes Eisner these days.

I just have to wonder... let's say Jobs does to Eisner what he did to Amelio: comes into the company as an outside voice, a bit of consulting help; then he turns up on the Board of Directors; then he makes a subtle little gesture with his head, and the former CEO is booted out, making way for the Steve to step in. Let's say this happens at Disney. What would happen to the product? We could be certain that the company's direction would change, in some way; it would be unlike Steve not to instigate major upheavals. But which direction would it jump? Would Disney throw even more weight behind the glorious golden future of 3D animation, bowing to Jobs' Pixar experience? Would this simply further seal the fate of Disney's 2D feature business?

Maybe not. Jobs' philosophy has always been one of "Do what you do best, and be better than anybody else at it". It's not about the promotion of one particular technology or product; it's about having a pool of talent at a company coming together as more than the sum of its parts, creating new things out of pure synergy. In Apple's case, that means making supah-sweet computers and iPods, led by the likes of Jonathan Ive and Avie Tevanian, the best minds in their respective businesses. For Pixar, it's about leading the 3D charge not through superior technology, but through Lasseter's story vision, making movies that are stories first and 3D animation second; Pixar movies are helped by looking great, but without the writing they'd be nothing.

So maybe Jobs leading Disney would be one of the best possible scenarios for those hoping the 2D feature animation business isn't dead. Maybe he'd recognize that nobody on earth understands the grandeur possible in traditional animation better than Disney's animators do, and he'd have the personality presence to channel that expertise in the way that it once was done.

And if not, it's not like the trajectory they're currently on could be much more dismal...

Thursday, December 4, 2003
17:01 - Turkeygate
http://www.instapundit.com/archives/012856.php

(top)
WaPo:

President Bush's Baghdad turkey was for looking, not for eating.

In the most widely published image from his Thanksgiving day trip to Baghdad, the beaming president is wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers as he cradles a huge platter laden with a golden-brown turkey.

The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.

But as a small sign of the many ways the White House maximized the impact of the 21/2-hour stop at the Baghdad airport, administration officials said yesterday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate.

Officials said they did not know the turkey would be there or that Bush would pick it up. A contractor had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line, while the 600 soldiers were served from cafeteria-style steam trays, the officials said. They said the bird was not placed there in anticipation of Bush's stealthy visit, and military sources said a trophy turkey is a standard feature of holiday chow lines.

To paraphrase Arthur Dent: Would it save a lot of time if I just went ahead and went mad now?

I'm racking my brains to come up with a word to use in place of the woefully inadequate "pathetic". But all I can think to do is to bear down on that very word, to turn to its florid definition and history in the OED, and ponder its meaning on all levels of interpretation and etymology. Pathetic. There is no more appropriate word.

What must it be like in the breakrooms of these news offices? Editors hunched glumly around metal folding tables, drinking coffee, heads propped in hands as they moan to each other about their collective failure to come up with a sufficiently explosive scandal with which to detonate the Bush Administration?

What level of despair must there be among the senior editors, for them to conclude that it's worth a shot to run a story on whether the turkey that Bush posed with was the one they carved the soldiers' portions from or not?

I can take some solace, I suppose, that I don't live in England, where this is how the enlightened elite saw the event.

Bush's standing rose in a poll conducted immediately after the trip. Administration officials said the presidential stop provided a morale boost that troops in Iraq are still talking about, and helped reassure Iraqis about U.S. intentions.

Nevertheless, the foray has opened new credibility questions for a White House that has dealt with issues as small as who placed the "Mission Accomplished" banner aboard the aircraft carrier Bush used to proclaim the end of major combat operations in Iraq, and as major as assertions about Saddam Hussein's arsenal of unconventional weapons and his ability to threaten the United States...

The trip was pulled off in total secrecy -- only a few Bush aides and reporters knew about it in advance, and they were allowed to discuss it only on secure phone lines. Reporters covering the Thanksgiving program in Baghdad were not allowed to report the event until after Air Force One had left.

Some of the reporters left behind at Crawford Middle School, where they work when Bush is staying at his Texas ranch, felt they had been deceived by White House accounts of what Bush would be doing on Thanksgiving.

Hey, guys? Ever notice how the only people for whom this event "raises questions" are those who would benefit from a Bush takedown? Notice how you never seem to hear these kinds of ludicrous complaints from, say, the soldiers or the Iraqis?

Or don't they count?

Pathetic. It's the only word for it. This is what our news media is reduced to.

Pathetic.


13:17 - "I like puppies! And space travel! And chocolate!"
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,104800,00.html

(top)
Wasn't it just Tuesday when I said that I hoped Bush would "give a speech where he says 'I like puppies' or something, just so we can watch the protesters' reaction: Hah! Well, we hate puppies! Down with puppies!"?

Well, shut my mouth:

President Bush (search)wants to send Americans back to the moon and may leave a permanent presence there in a bold new vision for space exploration, administration officials said yesterday.

The return to the moon would be for the purpose of technological advancements in technology, including energy exploration and testing a military rocket engine.

And a permanent presence likely will include robots and communication satellites.

But beyond the nuts and bolts, Bush's call for a to return to space would give Americans something new to hope for - amid a period of permanent anxiety about terrorism. It would also help move NASA beyond last February's space shuttle Columbia disaster.

Sources said the president may also give the go-ahead to pursue a manned trip to Mars - a long range goal.

Let the countdown begin to the protesters-- who used to get misty over NASA's every idealistic accomplishment-- taking to the streets waving NO TO BUSH'S SPACE IMPERIALISM and NO BLOOD FOR MOON ROCKS banners: T minus twelve, eleven, ten...


11:11 - Big FAT Hairy Deal
http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/ip/tech/fat.asp

(top)
Don't companies normally wait until they're dying before they start enforcing royalties on their previously public-domain, license-free technologies?

I mean, Unisys waited until they were all but bankrupt before they started bumping chests with everybody and saying that LZW-based GIF was theirs to charge fees for (at least, until they found a bed-buddy in Microsoft). That working group that developed the JPEG format waited until last year before suddenly, out of the blue, claiming prima nocte on everybody's JPEGs. Even SCO waited until just this year before they started their own Samson maneuver, stamping their little feet and saying they owned Linux, collecting multimillion-dollar "donations" from Microsoft and Sun so they can show a pro forma profit for two more consecutive quarters so their execs can cash out their stock options before the company finally implodes.

So what's Microsoft doing, suddenly charging royalties for the FAT filesystem?

Today, the FAT File system has become the ubiquitous format used for interchange of media between computers, and, since the advent of inexpensive, removable flash memory, also between digital devices. The FAT file system is now supported by a wide variety of operating systems running on all sizes of computers, from servers to personal digital assistants. In addition, many digital devices such as still and video cameras, audio recorders, video game systems, scanners, and printers make use of FAT file system technology.

Microsoft is offering to license its FAT file system specification and associated intellectual property. With this license, other companies have the opportunity to standardize the FAT file system implementation in their products, and to improve file system compatibility across a range of computing and consumer electronics devices.

Ahh. In other words, now that everything from CompactFlash cards to digital cameras to game consoles to routers uses FAT, the time is ripe for Microsoft to flip the little "We were just kidding all along when we said non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, non-transferable, non-sublicenseable license. Ha ha haaaa! Foooled you, didn't we?" switch and collect a cool quarter for every single such device sold, up to $250,000 per company. On a case-by-case basis. How much do you neeeeeed FAT? they'll ask. Care to express that in terms of a number followed by a long series of zeroes?

They know nobody can afford to go to an alternative. They know FAT is the de facto standard. What are people gonna do-- switch to UFS or Ext3FS? Hah. We're Microsoft. They'll all just pay up.

If every company in the tech sector banded together and stood up to Microsoft, maybe they could get them to back down; maybe throngs of suited-and-tied finance officers will gather outside One Microsoft Way and wave banners, topple giant Bill Gates puppets, and sing "Kumbaya" until the company relents. But I don't expect that'll happen. The last twenty years are an unending litany of Microsoft's demands being met and appeased with nary a whisper of complaint. Best to give the devil his due, eh, as long as he keeps delivering the goods?

Apple may have slowed acceptance of FireWire by charging royalties for it during the first few years of its life, before dropping them later-- but they didn't start out saying it was free, then wait until everybody was locked into it and then start charging.

I suppose it's Microsoft's business prerogative to revoke the royalty-free license and suddenly start charging fees. Nothing in the law against it. But damn, it's slimy.

Thanks to Chris for the links and the rundown.

Wednesday, December 3, 2003
16:41 - I'll take the red tablet
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20031127.html

(top)
A number of people have lately started suddenly forwarding me all these I, Cringely articles, including this one, which describes Microsoft as a company that may as well be selling breakfast cereals for all the weight it places on creating revolutionary new technologies (instead choosing to-- gasp!-- make money on a consistent basis for its shareholders). Good stuff, but I must admit that it's caught me by surprise that it was notable enough for so many people to mail it to me out of the blue, whereas I'd never before even heard of Cringely except once or twice in passing. I guess I'd better keep an eye on him-- most of the articles seem like exactly the kind of thing I'd like to read as soon as they let me clone myself a couple of times.

Anyway, John forwards this week's column, which is all about a purported Apple entry into the Tablet PC market. Cringely speaks my mind here, all right:

Tablet computers have been around in various forms for years. Back in the early 1990s, we called it Pen Computing, and VCs lost a lot of money trying to get us to exchange our keyboard for a touchscreen and a stylus. The product success that emerged from that experiment was something both more and less than what was expected -- the Palm Pilot and later Windows CE. We didn't replace our desktops and notebooks with pen computers, but we added a new type of little computer to our lives. It was that perfect technical play -- the chance to replace a seven dollar, little black book with a $399 PDA.

A couple years ago, pen computers re-emerged as tablets with a larger form factor, supposedly expanded functionality and definitely expanded pricing. Microsoft made a special version of Windows just for tablet PCs, and most of the big hardware OEMs churned out tablet designs. But we haven't been buying them. In a U.S. market that supports sales of 50+ million PCs and notebooks per year, total tablet PC sales from all manufacturers this year will be less than 100,000 units. The screens are bigger and brighter, the applications smarter and the handwriting recognition better, but tablet computers are still looking for their killer app.

Yeah. Apple has had tablet prototypes kicking around in the labs since well before Microsoft's first OEMed models appeared back in 2001 or so; if they'd wanted to make a product out of that kind of form factor, they could easily have done so. They had the mechanicals in place. They had the chassis, borrowed from the then-new white iBook. What was stopping them? Apparently, only a little thing we like to call marketability. Why sell something that nobody seems to need? Even the G4 Cube had more obvious consumer appeal than a tablet computer, and it didn't sell. People knew PDAs-- they knew that a PDA was interesting for about two months, after which it sits in its sync cradle and gathers dust, annoyingly beeping at you-- Bee-doo! Bee-doo! Bee-doo!-- every time that one recurring meeting you programmed into it rolls around, until its battery wears down and you never think about it again. And what's a tablet PC but a big PDA?

Apple Computer has been decidedly absent from the tablet game. In part, this has to do with the failure of the Newton, which will always be associated in the mind of Steve Jobs with his former friend and nemesis John Sculley. "Real computers have keyboards," Steve has said a zillion times, and he'll mean it right up to the moment he changes his mind.

That moment appears to be coming soon.

Quanta, the Taiwanese company that makes many Apple notebooks, has been apparently switching its production to the new tablets, or at least that has been reported in the Taipei press since early this year. If this is the case that Apple is introducing such a machine as early as January, how is it likely to be different from the Windows-based tablet machines that have so far failed to excite buyers? And why, in the face of such lackluster sales, has Microsoft done another rev of its tablet operating system? What is it about this product niche that makes it so attractive to vendors despite more than a decade of failure?

The simple fact is that until next year, the parts won't have been there to make tablet PCs successful. What's missing has been the killer app, and what kept a killer app from appearing was a lack of hardware support, which I believe will be over soon.

Cringely thinks that the "killer app" that's coming soon is a melding of the tablet PC with a universal remote for all your media-- and you know, ho hum. We've heard that again and again for years. I'll believe it when I see it. Isn't the "Media Center" stuff for Windows supposed to do just that? Cringely's insight is that Apple will jump into the fray with 802.15.3, supporting HDTV-resolution video transfer over wireless links from TV/tuner to tablet so you can watch TV in any room in the house, wherever you take your tablet.

Sounds great. I just hope they can figure out the reception issue, because my laptop drops connection when I'm sitting in the comfy chair in my bedroom, twenty linear feet from the AirPort hub in the downstairs bathroom.

What Apple has uniquely going for it right now, if anything, is the Ink stuff they incorporated into Jaguar-- the Newton-style handwriting recognition that hasn't been seen since the "Eat Up Martha" days. If you're going to write with a stylus on a tablet, you need good handwriting recognition, and Microsoft's (as The Register and others have noted numerous times) isn't what you'd call up to snuff. Apple could clean house if handwriting recognition were the killer app. (Frankly, I can see no other conceivable reason why they'd have written Ink if not to put into a tablet someday.) But even that won't be any kind of silver bullet.

I think tablets have a long slog ahead of them-- nothing's going to make them the obvious choice for anything anytime soon, and I'd be very surprised to see Apple jump in with anything less than an offering that's completely useful right from the get-go. But Cringely's proposal suggests that either they'd have to announce a whole range of industry-leading super-WiFi-capable consumer electronics right out of the gate, or else wait another five or ten years for them to be developed and adopted as fast as HDTV has. Which is to say, not.

I'd love to be proved wrong, though.


15:50 - Dig harder, Andrew
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/34291.html

(top)
Damien sends me this Register article in which Andrew Orlowski, with the help of several adroit readers, has unearthed a scandalous secret: iTunes/AAC DRM places restrictions on consumers. Oh me, oh my.

Johansen posted his code on Friday a week ago, but the discussions were rumbling on well into Thanksgiving: the remarkable thing being how people who had happily bought iTunes music without realizing that they were guinea pigs for a much larger social engineering experiment were now cottoning on. What seemed like a friction-free source of happiness one day, looked like a noose the next.

How so?

Well, by observing the time honored BBC tradition - that there are only two, and never more than two sides to an argument - Apple's alliance with the RIAA has been welcomed in the public prints as an honest compromise. On one side, there are P2P file swappers, on the other, are the pigopolists who want to lock down your music forever.

It's an appealing, but absurd reduction, however; one that's flawed by the amount of ideology that's already baked-in to the argument. As Register readers pointed out, the issue is one of who owns, or has rights to use our common culture. That means stuff we created ourselves, and only we can decide is worth sharing. And as many of you pointed out, what we call the "entertainment industry" today is merely a distributor, much like the Victorian canal owners were in the last century, in Britain. The smarter Bridgewaters bought into the upcoming railways, while the dumber canal owners didn't, and died a natural death. Today's pigopolists don't "own" the culture simply by claiming that their exclusivity is based on technology - that's a social contract we don't buy, and history, in most cases, is on our side.

So for Apple to pop up and grant the dying RIAA members a $99c toll on each song - when the distribution costs are zero, and when the RIAA is so manifestly corrupt - is a pill many find hard to swallow.

I don't know what it is he's trying to say here-- that Apple shouldn't be charging money for songs? That they should sell music but shouldn't have to give any of the money to the RIAA? That they can collect a profit but the song files should have no DRM? I thought we'd been through all this before.

His readers-- not, mind you, what he calls the "Apple Taliban" who have the nerve to suggest that QTFairUse doesn't really present much more of a vulnerability to iTunes' saleability than re-recording using an analog line-in cable-- come across as bitter basement pundits:

"I'm glad to see the system is being challenged, not being a user of ITunes I didn't realize there were copying limitations on the files. For the life of me I can't figure out why on earth ANYONE would be willing to spend $1.00 per song and get nothing more than a file. This seems to me that the consumer is being screwed royally by the RIAA. It works like this: I end up paying $15-20 dollars for a CD and get no physical product. The record company gets to sell it for the same price but pays nothing for manufacturing and distribution. No middle men to speak of, the public gets hosed. But that's what they've been doing for years anyway. Just curious, does the artists cut increase with online distribution? Support the artists but boycott the RIAA and overpriced online music."

Of course he's not an iTunes user, but he's all too willing to call it "overpriced". Look, genius, you have two options: pay money for legal music that follows well-established rules of commerce, or get it on KaZaA for free. It's obvious which you'd prefer, but if your threshold for making the move to purchased digital music is "When it's free", then you've bifurcated yourself from the rest of the music-buying community, along with the rest of the file-swappers. These two camps will fluctuate in relative size until one wins. But they won't merge. Purchased music won't become "too cheap to meter". The RIAA won't shrivel up and disappear. If you're not willing to compromise, well then, good on you for holding on to your principles, whatever they are.

But thanks to the connivance of get-rich-quick computer companies, who have this year tried to market DRM, the dying industries have an opportunity: not only to control the distribution of popular culture, but of course its price, too. And remember, most of that $99c goes back to the pigopolists. Even seasoned music industry executives are championing models that allow music to be shared, and that give the artists their fair due. The Apple-RIAA pact closes such arguments, both parties argue, all in the sake of 'convenience'.

But at what cost does this convenience come?

For a Steve Jobs, relaxing in his Austin Powers Peninsular pad, downloading Fleetwood Mac from one expensive gadget to another expensive gadget must seem the very embodiment of friction-free futurism. Bully for him. But for readers such as Gene Mosher, enjoyment of our culture represents a very inconvenience. Let's hear it in full, once again -

. . .
I'll be damned in hell before I accept the notion that I and my ancestors who love to listen to the audio arts are in any sense guilty of anything that is illegal, wrong, evil, immoral or improper.

Remember when we smirked at Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black when he held up that little mini-disc thing which he said would replace CDs, and ruefully sighed that he'd have to buy The White Album again?

Damn "pigopolists".

I suppose this is the shining alternative, right?

As with so much Apple technology, iTunes DRM is a matter of learning to stop worrying and love the bomb. Stop fighting the pulsing rhythm of IT and become a citizen of Camazotz. Or, if you prefer, just quit trying to second-guess the system and find a way to get something for nothing. iTunes' DRM is less restrictive than any of the WMA-based schemes, and if even that's not good enough to wean you from KaZaA, then we can't expect that anything will. But in a couple years, when everybody's enjoying their legit digital music, which they bought for less than it would have cost on CD, guess what: they will be in the position that PC-based gamers are in now relative to Mac users. Having accepted a modest sacrifice, they're now the mainstream... and the holdouts have the look of crazed basement-dwelling Luddites. You wouldn't want that to happen, would you?

God damn, I'm tired today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2003
23:47 - Ukiah, say it ain't so
http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/Stories/0,1413,91~3085~1802340,00.html

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This is my hometown. This is my high school.

Billed as "The Wheels of Justice Bus Tour," a brightly decorated school bus will roll into Mendocino County on Thursday, Dec. 4, bringing speakers who have recently been to war zones in the Middle East. Having seen and lived with war, terror, and occupation in Iraq and Palestine, participants in the Wheels of Justice offer first-hand witness about the actual effects of war and occupation on people abroad and Americans at home.

"The bus is really a mobile classroom," says Ceylon Mooney, the tour's national coordinator. "It comes complete with teachers and a wide range of instructional materials: videos, photographs, essays, fact sheets, etc."

Several events are planned in Ukiah and Fort Bragg. The bus will spend Thursday afternoon at Ukiah High School. At lunchtime, in an event sponsored by the Ukiah High Progressive Club, bus tour speakers will talk with students and faculty. The bus will remain on campus throughout the afternoon.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, a presentation and discussion will be held at the Ukiah City Council Chambers, 300 Seminary Avenue. The following day, the bus will travel to Fort Bragg, for a presentation at the Town Hall, on the corner of Laurel and Main Streets. These two evening events are free and open to the public.

Commenting on the upcoming events, Gordon Miles, UUSD social studies teacher said, "From a teacher's perspective, any time we encounter an alternate perspective based on experience, it challenges our ways of thinking. At the same time, our students will challenge their assumptions. This can only lead to greater understanding."

Among the speakers traveling with the bus when it arrives in Mendocino County is John Farrell, 28, an organizer with Voices in the Wilderness in Chicago. Farrell recently spent a month in Iraq interviewing ordinary Iraqis on the street and in their homes, talking with U.S. soldiers about their experiences, and witnessing the violence and tensions in Iraqi neighborhoods.

Another speaker, Lauren Anzaldo, is a 24-year-old resident of Pensacola, Fla. She spent two months this summer living and working as an ESL teacher in Jenin, Palestine. A member of the International Solidarity Movement, her presentation will focus on the effects of the "Security Wall" under construction in Palestine, on the day-to-day life of families in Jenin, and on the possibility of peace between Israel and Palestine.

I loved Ukiah for all the first eighteen years of my life. It's an island of apolitical, agricultural sanity between the well-understood turmoil of San Francisco and the pot-heavy air of Humboldt County. Ukiah High School is large, comparatively wealthy, well-staffed with talented teachers, and designed like an outdoor-oriented junior college with lawns and benches and angular stucco walls that come as close as possible to being Good Architectural Design from the 70s. When I pass through there for Memorial Day each year, the sentiments on the roadsides are genuine. It's still, to the best of my knowledge, one of the best places in all of California.

I thought I knew the Ukiah Daily Journal better than to expect its reporters not to understand that the country Jenin is in-- not to mention the "quote-unquote" "Security" "Wall" "quote-unquote"-- is not called "Palestine".

...Then again, on second thought, the paper's been full of howlers all my life. I still remember how they reported my friend Eric's loss at our fifth grade spelling bee. The BBC's got nothing on the Journal's "sexing up" of events.

Par for the course, then.

Via LGF, one place where I never expected to see the name of my beloved hometown. Charles has the lowdown on who the organizers of this event in fact are.


23:29 - "We're all different!" "I'm not!"

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So in the spirit of playing nice with our overseas allies and partners, Bush is repealing the steel tariffs, which were an ugly thing that all the conservative bloggers hated. And wouldn't you know it, according to NPR's news, the Giant Puppet Brigade is protesting, demanding a continuation of the tariffs.

Why don't they just cut to the chase? Why not just carry huge banners that say WE HATE BUSH NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES!

I can't wait to see W give a speech where he says "I like puppies" or something, just so we can watch the protesters' reaction: Hah! Well, we hate puppies! Down with puppies!

Sheesh.

18:07 - Black Screen of Frustration
http://discussions.info.apple.com/WebX?13@45.Uke5a9ZSlC2.0@.5998b323

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Think Secret has found the area of Apple's support forums where a veritable herd of G5 owners are reporting the very same mysterious screen-goes-black issue that's been plaguing me off and on ever since I got my new machine. Or possibly it's the same problem; most of these guys are talking about issues with the screen staying black as you boot the machine, and the problem gets worse and worse with time. I've only seen it happen when starting the full-screen visualizer in iTunes. But then, I also hardly ever reboot, so my usage profile is probably considerably different than that of most people. (Man, it's been a long time since I bothered turning off my machine.)

So far there's no official statement from Apple, though there's word of a G5 firmware update to address an "incompatibility" between the G5's Radeon cards and the Apple monitors. There's nothing for sure yet, though-- still no consensus even on what exactly causes the problem to manifest.

I'll be watching the usual sites fairly intently, to say nothing of this one.


09:42 - Going after the coveted "kindergartner" demographic
http://www.kucinich.us/endorsements/endorsements/grandfather_twilight.php

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Chances are that this man will actually be standing behind a podium and debating with actual Presidential candidates ahead of the upcoming election.

I met Grandfather Twilight for the first time in 1975. We became friends and he often visited my studio, where he helped me create a picture book (Grandfather Twilight, Philomel Books, 1984). Yet when he spoke out recently, endorsing Dennis Kucinich for President, I was stunned. For in all the time I have known him, Mr. Twilight has spoken very few words. His is a quiet wisdom. So quiet, in fact, that teachers and parents still remark on the hush that comes over children whenever they hear his story...

The audience will be enraptured. If just to hear what comes out of his mouth next.

Don't forget to send each other Kucinich e-cards this Solstice season.

Fer cryin' out loud...

Monday, December 1, 2003
13:46 - No, you stupid journalist!
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/30/magazine/30IPOD.html?pagewanted=all

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Here's a fascinating piece on the iPod and the iTunes phenomenon, appearing in the New York Times Magazine. But it actually turns into more of a character study of Steve Jobs, who apparently grew increasingly exasperated by poor Rob Walker, who just "didn't get it".

Actually, Jobs seemed a little annoyed. Looking back at my notes, I found it remarkable how many of his answers begin with some variation of ''No,'' as if my questions were out of sync with what he wanted to say. (Before I could finish a question about the significance of Apple's pitching a product to Windows users, for instance, he corrected me: ''We're not pitching the Windows user. We're pitching the music lover.'') After half an hour of this, my inquiries really did start to fall apart, so I didn't expect much when I resorted to asking, in so many words, whether he thinks consciously about innovation.

''No,'' he said, peevishly. ''We consciously think about making great products. We don't think, 'Let's be innovative!''' He waved his hands for effect. '''Let's take a class! Here are the five rules of innovation, let's put them up all over the company!'''

Well, I said defensively, there are people who do just that.

''Of course they do.'' I felt his annoyance shift elsewhere. ''And it's like . . . somebody who's not cool trying to be cool. It's painful to watch. You know what I mean?'' He looked at me for a while, and I started to think he was trying to tell me something. Then he said, ''It's like . . . watching Michael Dell try to dance.'' The P.R. minder guffawed. ''Painful,'' Jobs summarized.

What I had been hoping to do was catch a glimpse of what's there when you pull back all those layers -- when you penetrate the aura, strip off the surface, clear away the guts. What's under there is innovation, but where does it come from? I had given up on getting an answer to this question when I made a jokey observation that before long somebody would probably start making white headphones so that people carrying knockoffs and tape players could fool the world into thinking they had trendy iPods.

Jobs shook his head. ''But then you meet the girl, and she says, 'Let me see what's on your iPod.' You pull out a tape player, and she walks away.'' This was an unanticipated, and surprisingly persuasive, response. That's thinking long-term, I said. ''No,'' said Steve Jobs. ''That's being an optimist.''

They call him a marketing genius, but most marketing geniuses are better "people people" than Jobs is. This guy is a complete raving idealistic nutbar.

'Course, that's why we can't resist him.

Anyway, the article in general-- which covers the whole design history of the iPod's development, its packaging, how it was originally pitched, and so on-- is very illuminating. Cool stuff for anyone interested in seeing what black magic underlies the Apple design process, particularly of a product that, in Phil Schiller's words, has become "as big a brand to Apple as the Mac".


10:03 - Too funny
http://broc7.blogspot.com/2003_11_23_broc7_archive.html#home

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Via Cold Fury-- everybody's linking this, and I'm powerless to resist joining the fun. But I'm going to do it by simply quoting Patterico's post:

INCREDIBLY STUPID COLUMN EXPOSED, OR, WHY YOU SHOULD THINK TWICE WHEN YOU'RE THE ONLY GUY IN THE WORLD WITH AN AMAZING INSIGHT: Hahahahahahaha. A guy named Wayne Madsen at a leftist site called CounterPunch has an entire column making fun of George Bush for supposedly forcing military personnel to eat that famous Thanksgiving dinner at 6 a.m.The only problem, as Brian O'Connell points out, is that they ate the dinner at 6 p.m.

Based on his sloppy mistake about the time, Madsen writes a whole piece mocking the supposed 6 a.m. dinner. In the process, he makes plenty of idiotic statements. For example, he claims that

our military men and women were downing turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and non-alcoholic beer at a time when most people would be eating eggs, bacon, grits, home fries, and toast.

He also says:

I would have thought most of the troops, many of whom are support personnel who work relatively normal working hours, would have been more surprised when they were ordered to get up before sunrise to eat Thanksgiving dinner between 6:00 and 7:30 A.M.

Madsen is proud that he is the only guy who figured this out. He says that "the abysmal and sycophantic Washington and New York press corps seems to have completely missed the Thanksgiving 'breakfast dinner.'" So why does he think nobody else remarked on the unusual timing of the dinner?

Chalk that up to the fact that most people in the media never saw a military chow line or experienced reveille in their lives. So it would certainly go over their heads that troops would be ordered out of bed to eat turkey and stuffing before the crack of dawn.

Or, Mr. Madsen, you could chalk it up to the fact that you are an idiot.

This is rich. Hurry and look before they figure out how stupid they were and take it down. Maybe one of you computer-savvy types can even save us a screen shot, to preserve the evidence. That way we can all laugh at this imbecile for years to come.

I've long since grown tired of the people who think it's some great insight to say how stupid Bush is. These are people who, if they were to take it upon themselves to actually research the things the man has done and accomplished in the last year alone, even if they disagreed with his policies, would be forced to admit that whatever else the man is, he's not some Epsilon-Minus chimpanzee. Hell, I'm even having these arguments in my dreams-- about twenty minutes before I woke up this morning, I was telling someone, slowly and carefully, that "He's the President of the United States. You don't get to be the President of the United States by being a moron. That's how you get to be a guy working at a dry cleaner." And the fact that these people haven't done such research and continue braying the same tired non-arguments means they're simply not worth debating. I'm not going to call them "idiots" in return, because there's no point.

But oh, how sweet it is to see it proved.

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