g r o t t o 1 1

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

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, January 4, 2004
23:48 - Flyover Country
http://members.accessus.net/~tmcdonld/lighthse/Texas.htm

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This is why MoveOn.org is going to be so deathly bewildered come Election Day, when they discover that comparing Bush to Hitler seems unaccountably not to have swayed the election in their favor:



There's plenty more where this came from, from shore to shore.

(My favorite picture is the one of the UPS truck.)


21:38 - I believe it's called a "punt"
http://www.rnc.org/moveonvideo.htm

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Some would respond to this ad by MoveOn.org by invoking Godwin's Law: The moment you mention Hitler or the Nazis in your discussion, the argument is over and you've lost.

I dunno. I think it's more accurate to describe this as a punt. The Left-- and the Democrats, unless they specifically repudiate ads like this in tomorrow's debate-- have gathered up all their remaining strength for a "last, best hope" sortie to launch with all their might. MoveOn.org has been running the so-called "Bush in 30 Seconds" campaign to solicit ideas for airable anti-Bush ads, with the promise that $7 million would go toward promoting the winning ad throughout the campaign process, whichever one might be the winner.

We want to run ads that are of the people, for the people, and by the people. Joining us in this effort is a great panel of celebrity judges, including Jack Black, Michael Moore, Donna Brazile, Gus Van Sant, Michael Stipe, Margaret Cho, and Moby.

With that kind of clout, you know they'll produce something worthy of Kubrick. (Fuck. Margaret Cho?! Has not a single comic or actor on the face of the planet not been eaten by the body-snatchers?)

Or will they?

If this is what wins, and what they air in the coming months, the Left will have spent all its remaining points. Instead of making a real argument surrounding Bush's policies, they're going to spend their precious thirty seconds morphing Hitler into Bush, and Hitler's statements about "protecting the homeland" into Bush's eerily religiously-charged statements about defeating al Qaeda and Saddam. (Statements which, if you google for them, you'll find that Bush never said.)

And they're proud of this.

I sure hope it wins. Because then every man, woman, and child in America will see clearly what the Left has reduced its arguments to. This is all that's left of it.

Even the least politically astute viewer will understand that there's this little thing called 9/11 which throws any spooky analogies into a cocked hat. And the newshounds and political busybodies will extend the metaphor, concluding that in MoveOn.org's estimation, al Qaeda and Saddam are the same thing as Poland and the Jews: unjustly attacked and ethnically cleansed to serve political ends.

I don't think any significant number of Americans is likely to fall for such lunacy. But I'd love to see this ad air, just because the blowback will be so amusing to watch. From a safe distance.

UPDATE: The baldfaced demonization of religion in this ad, by the way, further bolsters my belief that the Left thinks quite honestly that America has either out-evolved a need for religion, or deserves to be eclipsed by countries whose people have. Those who know me know I'm pretty much devoid of any religious conviction, but the principles of faith fascinate me, and I'm not so chauvinistic as to claim (as I did in high school) that to believe in a higher power is inherently irrational. The MoveOn.org-style Left, however, views religion with unmasked revulsion, and I somehow don't think that'll play very well in Middle America.


04:35 - <

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Okay-- time for another Public Service Announcement...

The word crescendo does not mean "climax".

Got that?

Every five or six web pages I read these days seems to contain some variation on the following: The evening's excitement rose to a crescendo when Lily threw a pie at the band. Aaarrgh! The word you're looking for here is climax, and the fact that this isn't an Italian-derived musical term just means you're gonna need to break out a thesaurus, pal.

Crescendo means, literally, growing. (I discovered this in 2nd-year Spanish class, where we learned the verb crecer, to grow, and its progressive form creciendo. Spanish and Italian follow many of the same rules.) It is used in music to signify a gradual increase in volume. It does not mean the fever pitch to which the volume finally grows. You don't "reach" a crescendo; you undergo a crescendo. You reach a climax.

Is everything clear?

Saturday, January 3, 2004
01:39 - The deck's stacked

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As I may have mentioned in passing, one of the sites that I spend most of my time administering is a fan-art archive for a particular animal-themed animated movie; the site has several thousand members, most of whom can be described without too much prevarication as "14-year-old girls".

The other day, I got the following e-mail:

Brian i need your help really bad. i know it's not really ____ related. but could you please post something asking the members to help me? it seems as though Canada wants to allow the hunting of harp seals. and there are just WAY too many animals being killed because of us. like horses and dogs and cats and pigs and everything. just because we say there isn't enough room for them. yet we have enough room for new shopping malls and houses for ourselves. i for one and so hurt by what i read on some of the sites i went to. there are lots of sites, i've been going to www.peta.org, www.hsus.org, andwww.theanimalrescuesite.com. i'm very sorry for sending this letter. but i'm so hurt by what we're doing to these animals. even TV programs are against saving the animals. please Brian i need all the help i can get, would you please please please help me help them? i'm gunna send an attachment with this e-mail. if you can resist such a cute face then i don't know who would help me. i'm begging you Brian, please can you help me!!!!!

Really, how does one respond to such a thing? How do you say something like "Well, little girl, it's very complicated..." and make it stick? I know it's never looked plausible in the least when someone tries that tactic in a kid's movie-- invariably it's some evil and stupid grownup too absorbed in his heartless grownup things to understand what makes life beautiful. If the silver screen has taught me anything, it's that adults are the primary reason why Ash and Pikachu must save the rain forest from Wario and Dr. Robotnik.

Now I find myself in the unenviable position of being one of those evil grownups. I have to figure out how to explain that PETA is a bunch of terrorists, and that animals are better protected today than they ever have been in human history. To buy time, I replied by simply saying that I didn't want to link to any such politically charged and off-topic causes from my site; and in reply she said:
but you posted about Sept. 11. should not the death of innocent animals be equily as important as that of humans? and you posted about lots of other stuff before, Brian, i know that it may not be that much of a big deal, but what if there were no more animals, there'd have never been a ____ for you to make your site on. if you won't help me than no one will, you know this is the first dream/wish i've had in a long time, and i didn't wanna give it up. but now that i see that your not even conserned about the animals i think i'll have to. but just remember that without the animals we as the artists on the site would have nothing to draw, and you'd have no website and wouldn't know any of us artists on the site. i would say thank you but i'm not sure what it'd be for. but just so you know, if you're with the other people that want to allow the hunting, etc. then i refuse to draw on your site again.

So clearly ambivalence is itself suspect, and I have to either wade into the discussion-- in appropriately softened language-- or take sides. Not fun.

And this is what I mean by the Left having the upper hand on kids' minds as they emerge from the scholastic systems of various Western countries. Who, I ask you, can resist such a cute little harp seal face? What kind of monster would be in favor of killing all the animals? And yet if you sit down and try patiently to explain that not only does not supporting PETA not imply wanting to kill all the animals, but supporting PETA is in fact tantamount to supporting domestic terrorism, congratulations-- you've just succeeded in filling with tears the eyes of a sweet young kid who just wanted to make the world a better place, and convinced her anew of the inescapable and incomprehensible evil of all adults.

It's long been held axiomatic that we all start out as unthinking jingoistic right-wingers, only to become compassionate and idealistic liberals later in life, after we've seen the beauty and wonder and joy there is in the world, and learned that life need not only be.... I dunno, cutting down forests and spilling oil all over virgin beaches to support our industry of endless unjust war. But as the above example illustrates, it's a lot goddamned harder to convince a kid that it is possible to be in favor of wildlife conservation without supporting organizations like PETA, than to explain to a kid in an American flag t-shirt why recycling is a good thing.

Dennis Kucinich must be snapping his fingers in frustration that these kids aren't yet of voting age, because that's all that separates them from his extant constituency.


22:53 - We get signal

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"Very strong signal from the rover..."



"Flight 18 has carrier in lock."
"Thank you very much... and this is beautiful."

Friday, January 2, 2004
12:30 - Feels like France in August

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<looks around empty office>

What-ho, we have today off too?

Jeez. I dunno about this.

Thursday, January 1, 2004
23:45 - "The people have spoken... the bastards."
http://www.americanthinker.com/comments.php?comments_id=53

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I've never seen a more perfect line from the mouth of a statist lawmaker.

The BBC recently gave its radio listeners a chance to express their will, but did not want to hear the result. The great unwashed mass, who cough-up the license fees which pay the Beeb’s freight, were asked to suggest a piece of legislation to improve life in Britain, with the promise that an MP would then attempt to get it onto the statute books.

Listeners to BBC 4’s Today program (the very same show which claimed that intelligence on Iraqi WMDs had been “sexed up”), reposnded with a suggestion that would allow homeowners to defend themselves against intruders, without facing legal liabilities. The winning proposal was denounced as a "ludicrous, brutal, unworkable blood-stained piece of legislation" - by Stephen Pound, the very MP whose job it is to try to push it through Parliament.

The Independent reports that Mr Pound's reaction was provoked by the news that the winner of Today's "Listeners' Law" poll was a plan to allow homeowners "to use any means to defend their home from intruders" - a prospect that could see householders free to kill burglars, without question.

"The people have spoken," the Labour MP replied to the programme, "... the bastards."

Having recovered his composure, Mr Pound told The Independent: "We are going to have to re-evaluate the listenership of Radio 4. I would have expected this result if there had been a poll in The Sun. Do we really want a law that says you can slaughter anyone who climbs in your window?"

Memo to Britain: Yes.

I know you're a much more mature and dignified nation than we upstarts across the pond, and we colonists, we cowboyish teenager of a country, mustn't presume to lecture you on what a democracy is.

But perhaps your people can explain it to you.

UPDATE: Lest I be accused of Dowdification, I should point out that Pound's actual quote was this:

"My enthusiasm for direct democracy is slightly dampened," the MP told Today. "This is a difficult result. I can't remember who it was who said 'The people have spoken - the bastards'."

But I don't think this context changes the meaning as much as some people say it does. By couching the quip as an extant witticism that he's merely quoting, all Pound is doing is trying to deflect criticism from people alarmed at the directness of his language. He can say, "But I didn't actually mean that-- I was just echoing an aphorism I heard someone say once, as a way of exaggerating my own point!" But he's still saying the same thing. He'd have said the bare words himself if he weren't worried that the microphones were on.


15:48 - Is this a joke?
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/today/business/stories/bu010104s1.shtml

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So this guy in Poughkeepsie, New York, has patented the star-and-crescent symbol.

Hopewell Junction attorney Aziz Ahsan and his family took on the task of seeking a patent for the symbol following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Patenting the symbol was Ahsan's attempt to create a positive Muslim identity.

Um... ever hear of prior art? Like, way prior?

I'm-a go register me a patent for the dollar sign and the cross.

Oh, and what's the reason for this again? So nobody but you is allowed to use this symbol? That's what a patent is for, you moron.

''There was a feeling that Muslims had something to do with the attacks,'' said Ahsan, adding most Muslims are law abiding citizens.

Uhhhhh... huh.

Yeah, better go combat that popular misconception.

Criminy.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
18:08 - Underheralded Feature

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I just wanted to say, for the record, that I have become helplessly addicted to the local-sync iDisk feature of Panther.

It's not the sexiest facet of the system, not by a long shot; it doesn't hold a candle to Exposé, for example. It's also not available to everybody, requiring as it does a .Mac account. But that said, it's gotten to the point where I can hardly imagine what it was like without the feature available to me, even when I'm not using it. Something psychological-- a self-assurance thing.

See, here's the deal. You've got multiple Macs-- a desktop G5, a laptop, and an iMac at work. You turn on local iDisk synchronization on all of them. Then, you start working on some text document, some piece of writing that you want to be able to open up no matter where you are and tap away on it. Where do you keep it? Well, just toss it into the local iDisk.

This has two effects. First, the document gets backed up onto the central iDisk server, where it's protected against any kind of hardware failure (no matter what kind of backup/recovery system you've got for your Macs, you can be sure that the .Mac servers have a better one). And second, your other two machines-- provided they have a Net connection-- do a periodic ping of the server, discover that there are changes to sync to, and the document is published to their own local disks.

So you then go home, pick up your laptop, and head to the park (where there is no network). Open it up, and the document's right there on your local disk. Tap away on it for a few minutes; save the file. Go home. Put the laptop on the network, let it sync. Then go to your G5. Open up the same document. It's all up-to-date.

These days, this is how I do all my book-related work. During PDF review, I downloaded all the galleys to my iMac at work, and stuffed them all into my iDisk. I waited for them to be synchronized over to the iBook, and then grabbed it up and headed north to no-network land, where I spent the long dark Christmas Eve hours reviewing them and adding comments to a little text file I was keeping. When I went home the following evening, I hooked the iBook back up to the network, and voilá-- all the changes were published back to my G5, and backed-up on .Mac.

It's all seamless and invisible, too. No user input necessary, aside from moving the files into and out of the iDisk itself, and making sure to save the files to trigger a sync. (There's also a "force sync" button next to the iDisk in the Finder, so you don't have to wait for the periodic sync on your other machines for them to get up-to-date.) Along with iSync, which keeps all your Address Book contacts and Safari bookmarks and calendar items synchronized across all your machines and backed up on .Mac, the iDisk does the same for your important files.

All hail iDisk, Maker Easier of My Life.


14:33 - How do you know you're more geeky than the rest of your department?

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When you come back from lunch on New Year's Eve and find that the automatic lights in your wing of the building have shut off.

(Such was the sight greeting Kris, Chris, and me upon our return from Togo's. Hello-o-o-o?)


12:54 - This we don't need

(top)
A co-worker forwarded this to me. I must admit, I've seen the occasional more effective ad slogan for Panther.



C'mon, guys...

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
20:12 - A breath of fresh, chill air from up North
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/viewpoints/stories/122903dnedishaidle.50b22.html

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Via commenter Iron Fist at LGF:

Being an American trapped in a Canadian's body means always having to say, "You're stupid."

With an intro like that, you know it's gonna be good.

When my hometown of Toronto awakened to the news that Saddam Hussein was in custody, we reflexively switched on CNN in my house. Why? Because Fox News still isn't available up here (although, in the spirit of "multiculturalism," Al-Jazeera's broadcast application proceeds apace).

At our only other option, the state-owned Canadian Broadcasting Corp., commentators repeatedly hoped Saddam Hussein would receive "a fair trial" through "an international tribunal" that "reflected Canadian values" – presumably the same "Canadian values" former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien invoked when refusing to send our troops (such as they are) to Iraq in the first place.

Such smug, pseudo-sophisticated "insights" would be only slightly less offensive if they weren't being paid for by my tax dollars.

I once was one of those smug sneerers at our southern neighbor, the product of a typical Canadian upbringing: my memorizing Trudeaupian doctrine about our superior "cultural mosaic" and the Yanks' inferior "melting pot."

The U.S. Bicentennial made a particularly indelible impression. I was 12 in 1976, the perfect age to be scandalized for life by red, white and blue toilet seats.

And like all Torontonians, I have my share of Stupid American Tourist Stories: loud, super-sized folks wearing what appear to be pajamas, asking if they can walk to Niagara Falls from here.

So, what happened?

Well, I am a recovering liberal, and Sept. 11 is my dry date.

The site requires registration, but it's worth it.


16:33 - Repeat after me: "I will not like anything"
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/003/510vdxsh.asp

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Damien has found this rather negative review of Return of the King by Jonathan V. Last at the Daily Standard. It raises a few good points, but it's also stuck ankle-deep in that self-righteous must-not-express-approval-of-today's-popular-movie mode that seems to grip so many academic critics, such as the armies of them who panned Titanic with such phrases as "The worst screenplay ever written". C'mon, guys. Sure, there are weaknesses. But hyperbole does not serve you any better than it does some nerd with a blog.

Last's points against RotK are as follows:

  • Aragorn seems "listless and passive". Okay, well, he did get that one rallying speech where he lifted his voice to an unprecedented volume; and he mustered the Army of the Dead to his reforged sword; and he led the armies of the West against the Black Gate by his lonesome. Maybe he doesn't have a huge number of lines, and he doesn't seem as cynical and sarcastic as he did in the first movie, but that's a feature, not a bug. He's supposed to be the King now.

  • Frodo and Sam keep making goo-goo eyes at each other. Oh, come on. You're actually going to complain about the kiss on Sam's forehead (which was in the book), when not even the surly clutch of teenaged boys sitting in the row behind me had a snigger to offer? This is called character. I say it tells us something very discouraging about our time if it was easier for Tolkien to sell Frodo's and Sam's platonic relationship in 1950 than it is to play it today without attracting accusations of "homoeroticism". Methinks thou dost protest too much?

  • The cinematography isn't very creative. Well, all right, I'll give you that. The examples he lists of interesting camera shots from the first couple of movies, like the Council of Elrond reflected in the Ring, and the Ring's-eye view of Gandalf reaching down to pick it up, don't really have analogs in this movie. The very tension of the air in the first film was something new and magical; the immaculate timing of the whole first half-hour was what told us just how deep Jackson's vision ran. But perhaps he only had a clear idea of that first half-hour fleshed out in his mind; he had to play the rest more or less by ear, and there was less time to come up with cool framings. Yet I'm not complaining. It's not like RotK is bereft of good visuals. I'll put the "Lighting of the Beacons" sequence up against any spectacle from the first two movies you care to name.

  • The movie is too fast-paced. Gee, and I thought its biggest problem was all the pregnant pauses. One reviewer I read said that one of the best pieces of wordless character in the whole movie was Gandalf's facial reaction to Aragorn's "What does your heart tell you?" But Last quotes that very line as a reason to dislike RotK. Whatever, man.

  • The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is colder and more impersonal than Boromir's last stand. Um, yeah. War's like that. Okay, granted, I felt a little deflated watching the Army of the Dead swarming over the field of battle and dissolving Mordor's army upon touch, giving me that slightly sick "If they'd got here ten minutes earlier, they'd never have breached the gates" feeling. But c'mon, dude-- you're going to tell me you weren't levitating out of your seat in excitement at the Charge of the Rohirrim?

    Last seems to have convinced himself beforehand that the final movie of every trilogy, from Indiana Jones to The Matrix, is invariably the worst of the lot. (I don't agree with him on the count of Indy or Back to the Future, but anyway.) And what's more, he seems to be quite conversant with the books, to the point where he grumbles over the lack of the Houses of Healing chapter, and over the choad that Jackson turned Faramir into. But for someone whose Tolkienian lore is so well established, you'd think he'd have understood better the importance of keeping to the book's unflinchingly emotional character resolution between Frodo and Sam. It's the centerpiece of the whole story. Jackson understood that. It's why Sam is so central to RotK on-screen. It's all about Sam. He's the one who moves everything forward, who literally picks up the movie on his shoulders and heaves it uncomplainingly, thanklessly ahead. That's the visual Tolkien put on paper, and it's what Jackson understood was so important to amplify.

    In fact, as I've said to various people, even despite the rather big chunks it leaves out, I think RotK is the Jackson movie that holds most closely to the book. Aside from the judicious reworkings of dialogue (imagine the Witch-King standing there nonplussed as Éowyn droned on and on: "No living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn am I, daughter of blah blah blah..." --he'd have thwacked her still-jabbering head straight off her shoulders, and it'd still be talking as it landed thirty feet away), and the major adjustment of plot timing surrounding Shelob, this movie stuck to the printed page like glue. For what it's worth, its tone and style is so like the other two movies-- whereas the third book is so profoundly different from its predecessors, all stilted and high-tongued-- that it's another testament to Jackson's abilities that he made it into such a well-rounded unifying piece for the story arc.

    Five years from now, "Fellowship" and "The Two Towers" will be the discs that go in the DVD player when people want to cozy up to The Lord of the Rings. Purchased out of a sense of duty and devotion, "Return of the King" will sit on the shelf, collecting dust.

    Forgive me, but that's the second most moronic thing I have ever heard anyone say about The Lord of the Rings in any context.

    The winner on that score, naturally, is this.


    UPDATE: I just remembered-- this morning, right before I woke up, I was dreaming I was watching RotK for the first time. Right after Aragorn recruited the Army of the Dead, there was a scene where Merry and Pippin went off together into the mountains, met a little guy in green with a beard (but no moustache), an Irish brogue, and one of those weird little upside-down pipes, and convinced him and all his little foot-tall cronies to polish up their shoe-buckles and hide their pots of gold and ride into battle with them.

    No, I'm serious.

    I even dreamed I read a review of the resulting battle scene-- a review that made up some entirely new words of horror and revulsion-- before I woke up sweating profusely.

    Let us never speak ill of Peter Jackson again.


  • 15:34 - Of The Body

    (top)
    In case anybody's wondering where to get the snowflake screensaver that James mentioned yesterday, it's here.

    From the ReadMe:

    This is a Cocoa OpenGL screensaver. It's modeled on the pretty falling snowflakes animation that Apple have been running on an iMac in the window of the local Apple store. (Theirs is actually a QuickTime movie, and not available to customers. People have asked.)

    How's that for illustrative of the Mac community? Some geek likes a piece of Apple's own ambient marketing fluff so much that he goes home and codes it up himself and gives it to the world for Christmas.

    Sniff. I'm very proud.

    (Also check out "RedPill", on the same page-- a new take on the ever-present Matrix screensavers, but this one's the slickest one yet. You'll see.)


    15:25 - Microsoft flails
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2003-12-29-loudeye_x.htm

    (top)
    Tim sent me this link at USA Today:

    "This will be the year downloadable music ... goes legitimate," says Dave Fester, general manager of Microsoft's digital media division.

    Those jumping on board the digital music bandwagon can thank Apple Computer for getting it rolling. Apple opened its iTunes online music store in April and was the first to let patrons download individual songs for 99 cents, without having to commit to a subscription service.

    . . .

    The software giant aims to topple Apple as the early market leader by spurring the growth of a cross section of digital music suppliers and device makers all using the Windows Media format, it says.

    "The best part about Windows Media is that it unlocks choice," Microsoft's Fester says. "You can buy from the store or use the device that gives you the best experience."

    I love it. It's brilliant. Like a light bulb in the mouth.

    Microsoft can't claim prima nocte on technology. They can't compete on price. They can't compete on premiums. They can't claim an edge on style. They can't even claim ubiquity, usually a given for them.

    So what's kinda funny is watching them flail about trying to find an area where they can compete, where they can claim an edge. And the only one they seem to be able to find is "Freedom and choice". Straight from the mouths of the company that has made a business on evangelizing a single, unified, universal platform for everything.

    It makes for good watchin'.

    While looking through the same section of USA Today, though, I found a couple of other headlines that caught my interest:
    Israel vs. Redmond
    Gov't suspends purchases of MS software.
    Wait, no Pocket PCs?
    $1.2 million from Gates Foundation buys schools Palm PDAs

    Sounds like Microsoft is throwing punches in the dark, frankly.


    13:34 - THIS SHIT MUST STOP NOW
    http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=11513

    (top)
    You know, once upon a time I dreaded waking up to news of some horrific new terrorist attack.

    Waking up to things like this, somehow, is even worse:

    The Los Angeles-based Constitutional Rights Foundation was established in 1962 to “instill in our nation’s youth a deeper understanding of citizenship” and “values expressed in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Its $3 million annual budget creates and distributes teaching materials ostensibly to support the Bill of Rights. However, CRF’s Service Learning Network in 2002 issued online “diversity” teaching units featuring terrorism and Islam sections—plus a whitewashed history of Islamic law and a proposed blasphemy amendment to the U.S. Constitution. CRF created the Islamic Issues segments for the winter 1998 edition of its quarterly newsletter.

    Its final Islamic study unit does ask students to consider Islamic views on the Salman Rushdie case—and a proposed blasphemy amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating, “The First Amendment shall not be interpreted to protect blasphemous speech. States shall be free to enact anti-blasphemy laws as long as they prohibit offensive speech against all religions.” Students are asked to define blasphemy, explain the “strong” Islamic reaction to Rushdie’s novel, and assume the role of a U.S. Senator considering the amendment. They are not asked to discuss the Sharia punishment for blasphemy, which traditionally has been death. Such condemnations occur to this day.

    They're this close to publicly decrying the First Amendment as being itself The Enemy. And we're not lifting a finger to stop it, lest we be seen as "insensitive".

    I've never felt so urgently the need to enjoy-- and exercise-- my existing First Amendment rights as I do now.

    Monday, December 29, 2003
    16:55 - Teach us to love, O Germany! Teach us to live!
    http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2003/12/german_public_m.html

    (top)
    Just think: if I lived in Germany, I could be registering my New Year's Resolution right now to "live more consciously".

    I guess we foolish Americans aren't even sentient enough to realize that we can become more conscious, if we only put our tiny little minds to it.




    ... Am I being just a tad snarky and self-righteous today? Gee, maybe I am.

    I guess I'd better work on that in the new year. Not making any promises, though.


    16:01 - Gettin' some weird barometer readings here
    http://www.daneshjoo.org/smccdinews/article/publish/article_4077.shtml

    (top)
    So James is suggesting that the Bam earthquake may be "Iran's Chernobyl"-- the event that starts the wheels really turning, where everybody everywhere gets to see the good guys and the bad guys each doing what they do best, because cold hard reality won't let anyone keep confusing the one with the other.

    My take on this was that since the imams in Riyadh, Jerusalem, Mecca, Damascus, and Cairo have been calling every Friday for the past couple of years for Allah to "shake the ground under the Americans' feet", the twin earthquakes in Bam and San Luis Obispo might make for an interesting object lesson for them to take to heart: namely, that if they saw both quakes as acts of God, and when it happens here it causes two deaths as opposed to twenty thousand (or more) in Iran, then maybe-- just maybe-- it means they should be more careful in what they wish for. How would they explain it? If the quakes are the doing of Allah, then he's deliberately being fair: striking with the same force both in America and in the heart of the Islamic world. And if the quake in Iran is that much more horrifically devastating, well... does that mean earthquakes have nothing to do with Allah after all? Or that he isn't, in fact, on the Islamic world's side?

    But more alarming still, for a world which must be weeping into its espresso at seeing vindication after vindication for American policies over the past couple of years, has got to be this article from Iran:

    The regime's plainclothes men and security agents have arrested in several cities, such as in Tehran and Esfahan, Iranians who angered by the situation had shouted publicly unprecedented slogans considered almost as a blasphemy by the ruling theocracy.

    These unprecedented slogans were nothing else than "Long Live Israel !" and "Long Live America !" shouted during tens of popular Blood collect gatherings by Iranians welcoming the Israeli and American support of the quake's victims.

    The popular anger has been boosted as the Islamic regime has banned any Israeli support of the quake's victims by rejecting this country's offer of aid. Many Iranians consider such rejection as another prove that the regime's leaders are more willing to let Iranians die by sacrifying them in order to keep their backwarded anti-Semite ideology.

    Many also are cheering the US President for his constant support of Iranians and are qualifying the landing of US Aid planes as another "slap in the face of the regime".

    There's only so much ideology you can build up in front of your face. There are some things that it cannot obscure.

    Like, for instance, that America and Israel both pledged massive aid to the quake victims. Both countries are evil incarnate, as far as Iran's government is concerned, and neither officially feels particularly well-disposed to the regime. But they both pledged aid anyway.

    Iran refused it. They'll take aid from anyone in the region except the one nation (Israel) best equipped to give it. Purely out of spite.

    So Israel has been trying to funnel aid in on the sly. To the country that has repeatedly paraded missiles through its cities with "We will wipe Israel off the map" painted on them.

    How long can any sane Iranian citizen blind himself to events like these? How long can the Islamic world keep convincing itself that we're the Great Satan, and ignoring the fact that America under Bush has been more humanitarian in its global endeavors than the United Nations ever has been?

    I guess we have our answer. No more.


    13:50 - I weep for the language
    http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/005540.php

    (top)
    So I'm glumly reading another of Tim Blair's sightings of some moronic journalist (yeah, yeah, redundancy alert) who thinks he's being righteously insightful by saying the following about Donald Rumsfeld's public statements:

    I heard a speech by a man that made me realise that my quest to discover how humankind - being so unsuited to the rigours of this world - had managed to survive and prosper, was pointless and irrelevant. That man was US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and what he said was this, in relation to his country's failing search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: "There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things we know we don't know. But, there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don't know we don't know."

    When exposed to a mind like Mr Rumsfeld's the question of how we survived loses all import. In its stead looms the much more important and ultimately more troubling question of why.

    Glumly, because as the first few commenters rightly point out, Rumsfeld's statement was perfectly astute and logical-- I only wish I were so clear in my thinking during verbal debate. So what is Mr. Weldon's problem with the statement? That it sort of sounds like a spoonerism? That it sounds like Rumsfeld is trying to obfuscate the facts? Is this the state of the art of the English language, when politicians in charge of war are the most adept wordsmiths of our age, and journalists are incapable even of comprehending a well-turned phrase without assuming it's fodder for one of those Foot-In-Mouth awards or public-goof One-A-Day calendars?

    Weren't journalists supposed to be our last bastion of artful language composition? Weren't they supposed to be the ones who make English into a delicacy for the public to consume?

    Maybe they are. Because after several quite well-thought-out comments following the post by Blair, comes this:

    Fuck all your right wing nazi parroting. See youn assholes on the streets.

    He even managed a three-syllable word. Boy's got a future in journalism.


    12:54 - "Talk, and you will be reunited with your sons..."
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20031229/ts_nm/iraq_saddam_dc_1

    (top)
    Via LGF. It's looking like our guys have been busy over the break.

    Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) has given his U.S. captors information on hidden weapons and as much as $40 billion he may have seized while he was Iraq (news - web sites)'s president, an Iraqi official was quoted as saying on Monday.

    "Saddam has confessed the names of people he told to keep the money and he gave names of those who have information on equipment and weapons warehouses," Iyad Allawi, a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily.

    "The Governing Council is searching for $40 billion worth of funds seized by Saddam when he was in power and which has been deposited in Switzerland, Japan, Germany and other countries under the names of fictitious companies," Allawi said.

    He said the council had asked international legal companies to track the money.

    Allawi said interrogators were now focusing on whether Saddam -- arrested by U.S. forces this month and held at an undisclosed site -- had any links to militant groups.

    "Interrogators are now focusing on the relationship between him and terrorist organizations and on funds paid to groups outside Iraq," Allawi told the newspaper.

    The dam has burst; the information flow will only increase now.

    Methinks certain people ought to be nice and worried about exactly what details we're getting out of him but that aren't being fed to the media...


    11:36 - The Law of Intended Consequences
    http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/qndguide/default.asp?target=URBANG.HTM

    (top)
    Via InstaPundit:

    December 29, 2003: The War on Terror has had an unintended, and welcome, side effect; world peace. Since September 11, 2001, and the aggressive American operations against terrorist organizations, several long time wars have ended, or moved sharply in that direction. Many of these wars get little attention in American media, but have killed hundreds of thousands of people over the last decade. These include conflicts in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Chad, Congo, Kashmir, Israel, Kurdistan, Philippines, Burundi, Somalia and Sudan. Some of these conflicts diminished because they had been going on for a while and, as is usually the case with wars, eventually the participants are worn down and make peace. But in all these sudden outbreaks of peace there was another factor; an American crackdown on terrorist activities around the world. The rebels in most of these wars depended on money raised outside their country to keep the fighting going, and on gun runners able to get weapons in. American anti-terrorism operations, energized by the shock of the September 11, 2001 attacks, now included cooperation from many nations, especially in Europe, that had tolerated, on their territory, fund raising, recruiting and public relations efforts by various rebel groups. No more. Most of these rebel organizations had already been declared "terrorist groups" (which they were, as most rebellions use terror, the American Revolution included). Once the U.S. and other nations began to crack down on the fund raising and other activities, it became difficult to keep many wars going. 

    Just one question: unintended?

    Though if this holds, and if it becomes more widely spoken about in the popular media, what are the chances that the Imagine Whirled Peas crowd will recognize and celebrate what they've got?

    World Peace at any cost-- on one condition. It must not be a Pax Americana.

    Sigh.

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    © Brian Tiemann