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
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, January 18, 2004
19:48 - LOLOLOL Bush iz st000pid LOL1!!11

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In the hotel at South Lake Tahoe, trapped by the inevitable odd lineup of cable channels far from home, I caught a show that I've never seen before: VH1 Illustrated. Ever wonder what became of those guys who did the Napster BAD! short? Well, they're on VH1 now.

The show featured a long series of short animated skits, usually centered upon one pop star or another. (They have noses now.) Michael Jackson, for instance, moonwalks and flails through his latest video, only to have his bionic face fly off repeatedly. Ho ho ho. Arnold Schwartzenegger campaigns for the California governor's office on a platform of being a robotic monster from the future who will crush crime and budget problems. And Moby makes advertising jingles while dancing ridiculously behind his keyboard. And Steve Tyler answers the door for a bunch of talking drugs, and his lips-- some three times wider than his face-- flap wildly down to waist level. Sheer genius, I'm sure.

Which was all brought home to me by a recurring skit about George W. Bush, who appears-- surprise!-- as a gibbering buffoon. He tapes pictures of naked celebrities to his monitor and calls Cheney in to show him his new "website". He tapes letters (in envelopes) to the screen and phones Cheney to ask if his e-mail arrived yet. He becomes incensed at hearing that the Europeans think he's "stupid", and decides to write his own speech about world hunger, instead of the one prepared for him.

He delivers the speech before the UN. It consists of admonishments for parents around the world to pack their kids' lunches better. With juice boxes and sandwiches and pasketti. Just as Bush is about to demonstrate how to make pasketti, he's gonged by Kofi Annan and yanked offstage.

The next day, Bush reads the world's papers, the headlines of which all consist of variations on BUSH: EVEN STUPIDER THAN WE THOUGHT. There was a French one, a Spanish one, and several others.

And the very last one they showed was in German. It said, and I quote, letter for letter: BUSH IST EIN DUMKAUPF.

Don't you just love it?



Anyway, maybe I'm demanding too much from shows like this. But I think it demonstrates that I've been spoiled by South Park, which-- when it mocks things that are easily mockable-- doesn't merely make fun of the most obvious and easy targets it can find. No stupid visual gags about Steve Tyler's lips or Björk's surreal spaciness or Michael Jackson's plastic face come out of Trey & Matt's factory. Instead, South Park tackles difficult and often complex issues, usually by taking an unexpected or unpopular tactic, and wrenching the audience out of what may likely be its accustomed and barely-thought-out position on the issue. (Just think about that Mormon one. Dum-dum-dum-dum-dum!) VH1 Illustrated, it seems, is just a long string of dull and predictable cheap-shots, brought to life in frenetic Flash animation with eyebrows that wiggle epileptically with almost every frame.

And it's brought to you by the illustrious producers of a film that's "More subversive than Bowling for Columbine!". Gee. I never thought the artsy-fartsy Left would settle for this kind of stuff. Aren't they usually more demanding of artistic insight? Aren't they the superintelligent ones, who would never, say, misspell a word in a popular foreign language when making fun of someone they allege is stupider and less literate than they are? Aren't they the ones with the evolved sense of taste and intellect?

Or is this kind of stuff really what turns them on?


19:32 - Guns make you Rumsfeld
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-wagman15jan15,1,3263293.story?c

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Via InstaPundit: an LA Times article that's genuinely fun to read. (Wow!)

Guns are bad. All my life, it's been that simple. At my son's preschool, if a child pointed a banana and said "bang," he was admonished to "use the banana in a happier way." As far as I was concerned, the 2nd Amendment gave us the right to protect ourselves against invading armies, not the right to buy a gun and keep it under our beds.

So what would make someone like me change my mind? I met this gun enthusiast. As research for my new novel, I asked him many questions, all the while voicing my disgust. My character might use a gun, but I never would. "Come to the range," the gun guy said. "I'll teach you to shoot."

I expected a dungeon full of men missing teeth and wearing T-shirts decorated with Confederate flags. Instead, I found a sunny, wood-paneled lobby and guys who looked like lawyers on their lunch break.

The man behind the counter was as pleasant as a grandfather from Central Casting. "What would it take for me to buy a gun?" I asked him. He explained the California laws, some of the most stringent in the country. I would have to wait 10 days — the "cooling off" period. There would be federal and local background checks. I'd have to take a safety class. I'd have to buy a childproof lock. I couldn't purchase an assault weapon. I couldn't buy more than one handgun per month. Of course, he said, if I didn't want to wait, I could drive 10 minutes and buy an Uzi illegally out of someone's car.

Ayep. I've only been shooting once or twice, but I can attest that the experience at the range I went to was about the same as hers. Now, I wasn't as taken by the thrill of firing the thing-- I still don't much like being around guns or shooting them-- but that's immaterial to how one might feel about the rights that ought to surround the things.

Later, I was surprised to discover that some of my closest friends owned guns. People I never would have suspected confessed that their guns made them feel protected. Still, most of my friends thought handguns should be outlawed, completely, in every circumstance.

I no longer was so sure. I did some research — there are countless testimonials about guns saving someone's life. I looked into shooting as a sport. I spoke to a woman who had found a wounded deer and shot it, ending its agony. I changed my mind: Guns aren't bad.

Which leaves gun violence. At least in California, we don't need more laws — we just need to enforce the ones we have. What else?

The answer has to be education: teaching people to deal with anger, to solve problems, offering them brighter futures, but also Gun 101. Maybe if teenagers were given computer-generated pictures of their own bodies, post-gunshot wounds, it would help them understand the enormity of firing a weapon. Maybe if everyone spent an afternoon at the shooting range, forced to follow the rules, they would respect the power of a gun.

I confess, I don't know exactly how to solve the problem, but at least now I know I don't know. Firing guns as a sport is great fun. Having a gun because it makes you feel safer seems understandable. Changing the way people behave? If you thought gun control was a distant dream … it could take centuries.

Very good. Indeed, just take people to the range and let them deconstruct the mystique surrounding guns exactly the way you have. If it converts an incorrectly premised "known known" into a well-founded "known unknown", that's the basis of realistic solutions rather than ideologically-driven thrashing about in the dark.

Friday, January 16, 2004
16:06 - Must be Friday

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Was that last post optimistic, or darkly satiric, or nihilistic, or what?

I'unno. I guess there's a certain amount of morbidity and cynicism floating about the Net today. This guy is pondering death and how much it sucks. Andrew Sullivan is undergoing a meltdown-- both physically (his server) and philosophically-- making a lot of his supporters wonder what's gotten into him. Charles Johnson is finding ever more encouraging pieces of news. People who say the Israelis "don't want peace" will get to see just how inaccurate they were if Israel turns around, throws in the towel, and officially stops pursuing peace as a national policy. My project lead just stomped out of a meeting over a trifling disagreement with the product manager over a lack of timely decision-making over some inconsequential technical detail. And I've eaten enough Sour Patch Kids over the past two days that my tongue's skin is peeling off in great sheets.

In short, I think it's about time for a skiing vacation. I'm out of here in about an hour; after that time, I'll be incommunicado until Sunday night.

I knew I should have taken today off too.


15:43 - Jazz to Moonbase Two
http://corsair.blogspot.com/2004_01_01_corsair_archive.html#107417533753814167

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Corsair the Rational Pirate seems to think he can't compete with the likes of Lileks on the matter of being eloquent about the space initiative. But with all respect due to Lileks, I think he's selling himself short.

We have always had sick people, poor people, bad people, and uneducated people. And when I say always, I mena for the last 100,000 years of so. Do you really think that closing up space to future exploration is going to change any of that? No! We have always had these problems and we are always going to have these problems. We spend hundreds of billions on education in this country every single year and yet there are still people out there who can't read. Want to know why? Because they are stupid or lazy or both. We spend further hundreds of billions on health care and yet people continue to get sick and die, the ungrateful bastards. Should we put on hold everything not health care related until we have conquered death and disease? Don't be a frigging maroon!

This country has proved that it can do more than one thing at the same time. we can fight terrorists (which are never really going to go away so you can quit holding your breath), protect the environment, try to make people's lives easier, educate the educateable and go to the moon and beyond. Will it be worth it? We can't know until we try it, can we? Will all the money spent on health care stop people from dying from a variety of horrible diseases? Probably not but we can still make life better while we try. Going to the moon is in the same category.

Yeah. And as Lance and I discussed last night, the moon isn't just a black-hole expenditure. What it amounts to, in the sense it's used in the business world, is a shifting of capital. If you're a company, you're not spending $6,000 to buy that new Cisco switch-- you're converting $6,000 of liquid assets into $6,000 in physical assets. Money changes form into equipment and people and all sorts of things all the time, often for no better reason than that it can do more work more efficiently (and develop more profit) in one form than in another. $80K can make a certain amount of money sitting in an interests-earning fund; but think how much value it can net your company if you give it to a person for a year's worth of his expertise. Maybe more, maybe less. But the question must be asked. And if half a trillion dollars is better spent taking us back to the Moon than floating in low-Earth orbit in slowly decaying shuttles, then wave that magic wand.

(As an interesting aside-- isn't it weird how the most vibrant developments in technology and wealth-creation come from a massive imbalance in capabilities between two parties? That's what trade is all about: A can produce X more efficiently than B, but B can produce Y more efficiently than A. So A trades X for B's Y, and both are richer in their own local contexts for it. And, perversely, the farther apart A and B are in their production capabilities, the faster wealth gets created. The same goes for space. We'll develop more and better miracle technology by trying to get that much further away from the pack in technical space supremacy, trying always for the overwhelming edge rather than the subtle one, than we ever would have if the whole world were operating on a cooperative and level playing field where nobody was particularly motivated for their own nation to be head and shoulders above the rest. Competition works in some types of markets, but in others-- like space, where the players are governments with budgets the size of planets-- a monopoly isn't a stagnation, it's a positive feedback loop.)

Space, as Bush has pitched it, is what amounts to a public works project (which ought to appeal to the socialists in the audience, if not to the nationalists-- heaven forfend the twain should meet). It's a tax-funded national effort which engages every citizen and gives him something of value for his money: pride, and hope. It creates jobs, it pumps money into private contractors, it stimulates visions of destiny and greatness when we need something to focus on. And it gives the country something of lasting physical value. In the New Deal, that thing of value was dams. Our task lies in making sure that we can get something of similar value from space.

And we will. If the first space push (and all its attendant infrastructure) gave us everything from DARPA to microwaves to ICBMs, this next one will give us things we can barely imagine today. If we play it right. If the money to pay for Bush's plan comes largely from cutbacks in the existing thumb-twiddling that NASA's been doing, then the bill we and our children pay will be as inconsequential to history as the bill we paid to get NASA moving in the first place, in the 1950s. Notice how much grousing we hear about that use of money these days? Didn't think so.

So, bring on the moonbases, and plant an American flag there bigger than the one at Guantanamo Bay. We can only hope that the technological plateau to which it brings us is a sustainable one, one that we won't have to abandon once the initial fervor dies down, because it will have found a way to pay for itself.

You know what I want to see? A sci-fi story in which humans have developed into a spacefaring species-- but have not achieved faster-than-light travel. Gimme a futuristic dystopia in which we've nuked ourself off the planet's surface, or in which the planet has greenhoused itself to the point where the only part of the surface that's habitable is in the polar regions, which are now temperate (minus ozone) while the middle latitudes are flooded and parched deserts too hot to support life. Give me a world where humans still forlornly orbit the planet, living now on floating cities in space, ferrying the way between autonomous moonbases and Mars bases and the Earth, carrying water between them, and where the future of humanity-- rather than out in the depths of interstellar space, which nobody any longer thinks it's feasible to reach-- is back on the Earth, on which we're practicing the nascent art of terraforming, just to get the surface back to a habitable state.

Do it without excessive preachifying, and I'll read the whole checkout-lane series.

Unless, of course, it's already been done, a hundred times over. In which case forget it.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
15:09 - Solid rocket backfire?
http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2004_01_11_dish_archive.ht

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Andrew Sullivan may be simply suffering from a case of cold feet, but he just as well might be right:

LET THE KIDS PAY FOR IT: I'm talking about this $170 billion foray into space. After all, the next generation will be paying for a collapsed social security system, a bankrupted Medicare program, soaring interest on the public debt, as well as coughing up far higher taxes to keep some semblance of a government in operation. But, hey, the president needed another major distraction the week before the Iowa caucuses, and since he won't be around to pick up the bill, why the hell not? Deficits don't matter, after all. And what's a few hundred billion dollars over the next few decades anyway? Chickenfeed for the big and bigger government now championed by the Republicans. This space initiative is, for me, the last fiscal straw. There comes a point at which the excuses for fiscal recklessness run out. The president campaigned in favor of the responsibility ethic. He has governed - in terms of guarding the nation's finances - according to the motto: "If it feels good, do it." I give up. Can't they even pretend to give a damn?

Wouldn't it be something if Bush blew it on the last lap by alienating all the new-to-the-fold conservatives who flocked to his banner after 9/11, simply by being a reckless spender? Wouldn't it be a pisser if his final triumphant flourish post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq, and post-recovery-- his unveiling of a doughty space initiative to mirror and evoke JFK's-- in fact backfired on him by revealing a fiscal policy too extreme for even his fans to ignore or apologize for?

One can make the case that this kind of no-limit spending ought to appeal to people on the left side of the aisle... but those folks are the ones who will be put off by social conservatism, and who wouldn't be voting for Bush anyway. (Many people I know closely like to describe themselves as "socially liberal, fiscally conservative" or vice versa-- seldom both on the same side at once.) So is the space thing the coup de grace that seals Bush's legacy... or the blunder of the century?

That said, though... I would very much like to be there during something as huge and exciting as the first moon landing. Lance has told me with some asperity that humans have not been to the moon during my lifetime, and I sure hope something as petty as whether the line-items all fit on the page doesn't stand in the way of whether that remains the case.


14:56 - Bagged dad
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/005712.php#comments

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Tim Blair found himself some pretty cool Saddam-capture photos, he did. Seven more where this came from.



"Hi, Mom! Look what I caught!"

Coolest hunting trophy photo ever, as one of the commenters said.

Incidentally, I love how the DU types squeal about how American troops are all white neo-Nazi inbred hicks on the inhale, and on the exhale posit that our ranks are filled with black and Hispanic cannon-fodder who take all the hits but get none of the glory.

This picture neatly explodes both those little pustules of thought, doesn't it?


14:47 - Smaller Big Mac
http://www.thinksecret.com/news/virginiatech2.html

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Virginia Tech is trading in its 1100 desktop G5s, currently comprising the world's third-fastest supercomputer (clandestinely called "Big Mac"), to the new G5 Xserves.

Apple will reportedly perform a one-to-one swap for the computers, the source said, dispelling rumors that the Power Macs will be distributed across the campus. The machines will instead be refurbished and sold by Apple to resellers, but it's not clear what financial arrangement Virginia Tech has worked out with Apple.

"As you can guess, this'll leave a lot of extra space in all the racks we have," one source said. "We may even add more nodes to the cluster."

They're in third place right now, but they're in striking distance of second. Hey, all they gotta do is toss in a few more 1U nodes...!


11:58 - Fishin' for lawsuits
http://onlinetoolsteam.com/WindowsExposer/

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J Greely sends me this: another Exposé semi-workalike for Windows.

These folks couldn't afford the fancy Flash demo, but they make up for it by being stupid enough to use Control-Q, Control-W, and Control-E as the default key bindings.

Nah, not like those are important for anything else. But what I really love, and what Kris pointed out to me, was the name on this one: Windows Exposer.

Sounds not so much like a piece of software as, say, a guy in a trench coat slouching about in the park.

"Hah! Hey, baby!"
"EEeeeeeee! XP!"

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
13:22 - But... that's not what PBS told me!
http://www.granta.com/extracts/2103

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A few months ago, there was a special on PBS or the Discovery channel or something which followed a young British Muslim on his first hajj. It dutifully recorded his every statement, following him through the ritual shaving of his head, the ritual collection of forty-nine stones to throw at Shaitan, the ritual throwing of the stones from within the swarming throngs as soon as he saw the pillar, the ritual off-the-cuff condemnations of America, everything. The show spared no effort to demonstrate how overwhelmingly beautiful and magical was the whole experience.

So what can this guy possibly be on about?

In Mecca, I found the same mixture of confusion, oppression and apathy I thought I had left behind in Egypt. But as in Egypt, nothing worked, even at the blessed hajj, for we were visitors not to an Islamic state but to yet another cynical Arab kleptocracy which only pretended to adhere to the true ideals of Islam.

The Saudis couldn’t even organize the hajj safely. Each day, as I performed the rituals of the hajj, I was part of massed crowds of Muslims from all over the world: Turks and Pakistanis, Nigerians, Malaysians, Arabs. We would shamble forward without order or seeming direction, endangering lives as we knocked over women, the lame and the elderly in our hurry to get from one ritual to the next. Once, in a street so filled with pilgrims that I could not take one step forward, I was forced to jump into the back of a truck to avoid being killed in a stampede.

At night, I would wander through the pilgrim camps, disgusted by the sight of the mud-faced pilgrims who were only too happy to sleep on the filthy streets. In the morning, the streets would be clogged again, and veiled women who had trouble walking because they’d so rarely been let out of their homes would waddle slowly before me. At the stoning ritual, I watched little girls fall under the crowds of pilgrims: Turks shoving Arabs, Africans shoving Indians until each day a few more pilgrims were trampled to death. The next day I would read of the incident in theSaudi Times (FOURTEEN PILGRIMS KILLED IN STAMPEDE) which would quote a hajj official who never took any responsibility for the deaths. He would only say that since the pilgrims had died on hajj they would ‘surely enter Paradise’. There was never any promise to cut the number of hajjis or control the outsized crowds to prevent these needless deaths.

The mutawan, the dreaded Saudi religious police who enforce the rigid observance of Wahhabi Islam, patrolled the streets, beating or arresting anyone they caught missing a prayer; it was impossible ever to know if the native Meccans prayed out of genuine piety or to avoid a whipping.

I returned from prayer in the Grand Mosque one morning to find my sandals stolen from the shoe racks.

What I want to know is, why do the mutawan not have to pray too at the same time? ...And who's gonna ask them?

Fascinating story, though. There's a lot more. It ends like this:

I was riding a train home from a short trip with friends to Assuit in Upper Egypt when the war in Iraq began. Our Egyptian guide told us the bombing had started the night before and that we should no longer speak English on the shuddering train or venture out of our apartments when we got back to Cairo. I locked myself in my flat and waited for word from the American Embassy. The next Friday from my balcony I watched a quarter of a million Egyptians rioting in the streets below, men and young boys chanting, smashing windows, pelting soldiers with stones and carting banners. A giant tank rushed down my street, its water cannons hosing the crowds while the soldiers drove back the protesters with batons.

I fled home the next week, leaving all my illusions of the Arab world in my Cairo flat. I couldn’t wait to be in America again. On the long flight home, I promised myself I would never accept anything less than full democracy for my fellow Muslims in the Arab world or apologize for the tyranny that now masquerades as Islam.

Yet, for all the hypocrisy and suffering I witnessed during my time in Egypt, it was impossible to ignore the sincerity of the poor and righteous and the depth of the belief of Muslims and Copts alike. I studied Islam with a village sheikh from Giza; I watched shop owners feed strangers during the nights of Ramadan; the local beggars, men who should have lost all hope, prayed each day without fail on tattered sheets of cardboard. It is only because of these expressions of true spirituality that I never lost my faith.

Even now, I can remember the dread in the faces of my Egyptian friends at what would become of their lives. Could it be, that the fascism which once bubbled up in Europe has now invaded the Middle East and that in our time, all hope for the true Islamic values of freedom, modernity and equality in the Muslim world lies not in the East, but in the West?

The saddest thing, though, is that it takes a Seattle-born convert to say this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
13:50 - Jeremy's... Iron
http://www.notfoolinganybody.com/

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Lileks has found a real gem of a site: Not Fooling Anybody, which features photos of old Taco Bells, KFCs, Pizza Huts, and other such recognizable edifices that are now serving an extended term housing completely unrelated businesses-- or sometimes, entertainingly, almost identical businesses.

There's a KFC in Ukiah, right next to the movie theater, that would be a good candidate for the site. It's one of those little square kiosk-style ones with the tall peaked roof, and it's currently a tax preparer's office or a very cramped real estate agent or something. I'll have to snap a picture next time I'm up there.

And if there's one theme I'm noticing throughout the site, it's that Canada appears to have very lax rules regarding trade dress violations. Exhibit A: a former Embassy Cleaners in Toronto.



Brilliant. (Anybody up for a little paste-up work involving a "D" and a "U"?)

Check out the rest of the site, too. It's well worth the time.

Monday, January 12, 2004
17:33 - Corporate-Owned Government
http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/01/Corporatesponsorshipofthe.shtml

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Hey, No-Blood-For-Oil types? Think America's squealing in the grip of a corporate-backed cabal of cynical oil men and venture capitalists, McDonald's and Wal-Mart and Nike, of whom George W. Bush is merely a front-man for public consumption?

Well, how's this grab ya?

According to De Volksrant, the Dutch government is having difficulty finding business sponsorship for their EU Presidency.

On Saturday, the newspaper quoted the foreign ministry as saying that "seemingly businesses would rather not advertise with the Dutch EU Presidency".

The government is hoping to save two to three million euro from the overall costs, which are predicted to be around 68 million euro, through business sponsorship.

As Den Beste says:

Perhaps corporations don't think they get the bang-for-the-Euro from this that they would spending that money in other ways. The Dutch, always pragmatic anyway, might consider a more direct way to reward corporate sponsors, like those which are already used in the sports world.

The top contributor would get to have his name associated with the position during that six-month period in all news reporting, e.g. "The Mercedez-Benz/German presidency", "the "Guinness/British Presidency" etc. The executive would have a special jacket made which he would wear at all official appearances and especially at photo-ops which would display the corporate logos of the next five or ten contributing corporations, with placement and size being a function of the amount of money the offered.

This is precisely why a lot of us are so dismissive of such theories of omnipotent government conspiracies. When we see blatantly on display such examples of just how stupefyingly incompetent all the very best-laid plans for post-modern, post-national government are that call upon all our accumulated knowledge collected throughout human historical experience, the idea of the all-seeing altered-reality Matrix state penetrating every facet of our lives is pathetically laughable.

(Of course, maybe that's just what they want us to think...)


15:08 - At least they're not calling it "unsinkable"...
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/ap/20040112/ap_on_re_eu/britain_quee

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Hmmm...



LONDON - The world's largest cruise ship, Queen Mary 2, set sail for the United States on its maiden voyage Monday, carrying 2,600 passengers who paid up to $48,000 for the privilege.

The 150,000-ton Cunard Line vessel left the southern English port of Southampton on the 14-day journey to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., its first voyage with fare-paying passengers.

Although Cunard has denied reports of a terrorist threat against the vessel, security was tight and police maintained a high profile.

. . .

As a small flotilla of boats turned out to watch the giant liner pull away, passengers lining the ship's balconies waved Union Jack flags and threw streamers.

Terrorists: the icebergs of the 21st century.

UPDATE: Reader Kenny puts on the finishing moves:

Clark: "There is no connection between the arctic icepack and icebergs. This was an unnecessary war."

Dean: "There's this theory floating around that the President was warned by the Eskimos that there were icebergs in the North Atlantic before the sinking..."

Kennedy: "This war was planned back in Texas between Bush and his Iced Tea industry buddies to take control of the ice from the polar bears."

No blood for ice! Peace Dude.



09:53 - For the record

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Know what rules?

Flying.

Particularly in a Cessna; particularly up the coast to Ukiah, where I grew up, to meet my parents on the tarmac for lunch before turning around and making the leisurely 90-minute return journey to the South Bay. Particularly when you get to 6,000 feet, and can see every landmark between the Golden Gate Bridge and Ukiah, including Snow Mountain, Mt. Konocti, Clear Lake, Mt. St. Helena and its geysers right up close, and the whole snowcapped line of the Sierras off to the east, beyond the impenetrable sea of fog that is the Central Valley. And particularly when you can see Ukiah's whole geographical shape from the air by the time you're over Healdsburg-- a town that seemed exotically distant when Ukiah's hills were the boundary of my life-- which makes the whole area seem eerily miniscule when you land. (I'd always thought Snow Mountain was terribly far away-- you can see it from the Ukiahi campus, the only snow-covered eminence on the horizon during the winter, and endearingly forthrightly named. But when you can see it lurking in the northeast all the way up from San Jose, and it's so close you can reach out and touch it by the time you start the final approach, it makes the whole region feel like... a model of a landscape, or something. Every hill is now a foothill. Every ridge is a step and a hop away.)

Know what else rules?

Having a roommate who just got his private pilot's license, and is looking for any excuse to put it to good use.


09:40 - Island of sanity

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Sometimes I come awfully close to mothballing my bookshelf stereo, which I currently use as a clock-radio, and switching to an iPod in a set of inMotion speakers or something, set to start playing one of my playlists at alarm time. It'd be cool, and take up less space, and so on.

Then, though, I hear Greg Kihn on KFOX, and I remember why I still wake up to it each morning.

I've just got one question to ask each and every one of the Democratic candidates for the Presidency. I just want an honest answer: What would you do if the terrorists nuked New York?

I don't want to hear any tap-dancing; I don't want to hear any name-calling. Just give me a clear answer: If they hit us again, with bioweapons or nuclear weapons, which someday they will-- what will be your military response? When the chips are down, when the American people are counting on you to defend them... what will you do?

Dean thinks removing enemy tyrants won't help make us safer. I wonder what he thinks will.

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© Brian Tiemann