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
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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Friday, March 5, 2004
20:44 - Get used to it
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/03/01/1078117369680.html?from=top5

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The "culture card" is only going to work for so much longer. I'm glad to see some countries have sane and intelligent judges. Via LGF:

Three Pakistani gang rapists who are facing life in jail yesterday begged a judge to be pardoned, citing cultural differences that led to the brutal attack, immaturity on their part and hardship within their families if they were imprisoned.

. . .

The girls were repeatedly raped, threatened with knives and bullets and one was told the other had been killed because she had resisted her attackers. None of the men can be named because the younger brothers, MMK and MRK, 18, were minors at the time. Another man, known as RS, is 25.

. . .

The brothers are representing themselves because they believe an anti-Muslim conspiracy has prevented a fair hearing. Their father, a practising doctor, told the court they should be pardoned because they “did not know the culture of this country”.

"Nobody told us gang-rape was somehow frowned upon in the kufr lands!"

Do we seriously have to start including lessons on matters like this in the naturalization process?


16:30 - Good call

(top)
I wonder if this...



...has anything to do with this?

"I've never seen a product line sell like this," says Jack Wahrman, senior merchandising manager at New York's J&R Music World. "The iPod [mini] is a phenomenon."

. . .

"The demand is incredible," says Wahrman at J&R, who had 25 of the silver minis left in stock Thursday. Best Buy and Amazon, on their Web sites, said they were sold out. Savvy entrepreneurs were auctioning minis on eBay with starting bids ranging from $299 to $310.

On its Web site, Apple tells shoppers to expect a one- to three-week wait. "We're asking people to be patient with us," says Greg Joswiak, Apple marketing vice president.

It's not a component shortage that's causing the backlog. "We're making and shipping them as fast as we can," Joswiak says. He says teens are taking to the cool colors. And the mini is appealing to athletic fans, who like exercising with an ultralight device.

Nah. Every time Apple does something good, the stock goes down, remember?

Via CapLion, who also links to a story about the $600 MicroDrives in the iPod mini and the Creative player-- the latter of which people are buying by the bucketload so they can cannibalize it for the drive and turn a tidy profit. Trouble is, people buying iPod minis for the same reason are discovering that Apple has performed some hackery on the drive's firmware that prevents it from being used as a generic drive, whereas Creative doesn't seem to have seen fit to do so. Which means that just about all those iPod mini sales are people who actually want (gasp!) an iPod mini. Whereas who knows how many of the Creative players are being treated as nothing more than digicam storage devices shipped inside very expensive, hard-to-open blister-packs?


13:39 - Viggy, Viggy, Viggy... you have been a bad monkey!
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/leigh200403051052.asp

(top)
Viggo Mortensen was hired for his face. John Rhys-Davies wasn't. And it's your assets that get exercise.

Rhys-Davies sees these same themes espoused in The Lord of the Rings, observing, "[J.R.R.] Tolkien knew that civilization is worth fighting for. There are times when a generation is challenged and must fight to defend their civilization from annihilation."

Of course, others on the set didn't see it the same way. Viggo Mortensen, who played Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, wore a "No Blood for Oil" T-shirt during a promotional interview for the movie on Charlie Rose's PBS show.

Ironically, Mortensen's character in the movies is a military leader. And many have drawn parallels between the conflict in The Lord of the Rings with the war on terror. With a twinkle in his eye, Rhys-Davies confides that a friend whispered to him while watching Mortensen in The Return of the King, "Does he realize he's George Bush?"

Ouch. That's so mean!

Ah well. Viggy's young and pretty. One day, he might have to start taking roles that don't depend on his face, and then he might have to start exercising other parts of his head:

Rhys-Davies used to be a radical leftist, as a university student in the '60s. He first started to come around when he went to the local hall to hear a young local member of parliament by the name of Margaret Thatcher. "I went to heckle her," Rhys-Davies says. "She shot down the first two hecklers in such brilliant fashion that I decided I ought for once to shut up and listen."

Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Thursday, March 4, 2004
01:36 - If for no other reason
http://www.georgewbush.com/tvads/

(top)
"Lead":



Mac monitor.


15:52 - Bigger is Better
http://www.acer.com/APP/AKC/INTERNET/AACPubli.nsf/AllDocs/B222B6B5F539666588256E3700

(top)

Wheee! Via AtAT-- now this is how to make a big laptop! Stupid Apple.

4:3 17-inch screen at 1280x1024 resolution. Teeny low price ($1599). 3E gigahertz CPU. (That means "3 sort of." It's a branding. Y'know, like "486".) What's not to like?

But wait-- there's more!

120GB hard drive-- at 7200 rpm. Meaning it's not a laptop drive, it's a full-size desktop drive. Which is fine, because the laptop is 2.2 inches thick! Hell, we could fit a free-range Tom turkey in this thing if we wanted to.

It'd hardly raise the weight class, too. This thing weighs 15.7 pounds. Hah! Beat that, Apple! Is how we make laptop in Old Country! Framework made from cast iron in Magnitogorsk. Many peasants die to make laptop, but all is for greater good of State.

(Hell, if you wanted to find a heavier "laptop", you'd have to go back to the old Mac Portable-- the lovable Luggable. 15.8 pounds if it was an ounce. But hey, those were the days of lead-acid batteries. They don't make 'em like they used to! Ah, my stars.)

Oh, and in case this isn't enough weight for you, we at Acer have got'cha covered! There's a power supply to carry around too. Wanna guess how much it weighs? Two pounds. There. No reason to feel cheated-- the bragging rights are all yours!

And it's a good thing, too, because without that power supply, this baby will eat through a battery in "up to 1.0 hour". So don't worry about discomfiting the guys in the window and aisle seats on the plane-- you'll have put the laptop away in its included Samsonite wheeled trolley before the plane has even left Bravo airspace and stowed it safely in the overhead compartment, at least unless it causes the plane to tip a little too far to the side-- in which case the flight attendants will be happy to check it for you.

So, yeah, it's not a "laptop" per se-- it's a portable, really, designed to be a full-featured desktop computer that just happens to be foldable so you can stuff it into your trunk if you have to take it somewhere. There's something to be said for a portable that doesn't bother compromising any desktop features for the sake of, oh, portability. But damn, it's easy to point and laugh at.

And I like easy targets!


15:21 - Before you go...
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=11703023_1

(top)
Some people in my e-mail correspondence have made oblique noises about moving to France to get away from the fascist nightmare that America has become. Surely, they say, things would be better in Europe. They'd go as part of a tour group or something, then sidle off behind the Eiffel Tower. And then they'd spend the rest of their days as wandering minstrels singing for their supper to the patrons of dimly lit, leather-clad coffeehouses. Whatever their final lot, surely it'd be an improvement over Bush's Reich.

I wonder if I could convince any of them to read this heartfelt essay by Nidra Poller, before they board that plane. Particularly if they're Jewish.

If their perspective isn't changed by it, then maybe the jetway is the right direction for them anyway.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004
18:28 - Freedom is slavery
http://transplantedtexan.blogspot.com/2004_03_01_transplantedtexan_archive.html#1078

(top)
InstaPundit pointed to this post by the Transplanted Texan, writing from Canada, in which he describes an assault on freedom of speech-- in the most real sense, that of government censoring the words the public are allowed to use in speech or print. Tune in to read his righteous Fisking.

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has published a list of words and phrases it wants banished from the news media, including "madman," "nutcase," "fruitcake," and "kooky," and will pay people for reporting their use.

The Health Department is offering cash awards to citizens who inform authorities of instances of "outdated, negative, inappropriate" terms it considers offensive to people with mental illness.

The government even says "mental hospital" and "nervous breakdown" should be verboten, not only in stories dealing with the mentally ill, but in all public discourse.

But... but... but... I thought Canadians had free speech! It says so right here:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

That's the trouble with laws that are worded in this kind of nebulous, content-free manner: what, exactly, does it mean? It describes various touchy-feely concepts, but it doesn't draw any legal lines or distinctions. What exactly does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms allow the government to do regarding speech, expression, thought, association, and so on? What does it forbid the government to do? It really doesn't say. Is Nova Scotia in violation of this section of the Charter? Worded as it is, is it even possible to be in violation of it? The question is almost nonsensical. It's like a statement from the Supreme Soviet on gifted education policy, claiming that "all Russian children are equally clever".

This is why a sentence like:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

...while seemingly a lot more arcane and severe, is much more compelling from a legal standpoint because it actually specifically forbids certain actions of the government. It contains a positively worded command. It doesn't just affirm "freedoms", it establishes a legal framework that can be cited in later legislation and judicial proceedings regarding free-speech issues. You can render a pat legal judgment on whether the government has in fact passed a law that abridges the freedom of speech, and strike it down if it has. You can't make firm law based on a statement that "everyone" has certain "fundamental freedoms".

After all, Nova Scotia certainly seems to believe it's acting within the principles of "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression", in forbidding citizens to call each other crazy in public-- or, at least, that there's no law on the books specific enough to prevent them from doing so.

Let's hope the Canadian public feels strongly enough about this issue to fight back.


UPDATE: CapLion IM's:

So like, what are the canucks supposed to fight back WITH? They can't use guns OR harsh language, now.

Me:

Maybe they can use ironic social commentary in public-funded naked sitcoms.


15:31 - Self-solving problem?

(top)
So it's become well-known that Bayesian anti-spam filters like Outlook and Apple Mail and others use are having pretty good success, as indicated by the fact that so much spam these days is engineered to try to circumvent them.

But... this circumvention seems to me as though it's bound eventually to be fatal to the spam's original purpose, which is to try to fool the recipient into buying something.

Cialiys is knowwn as a Super ViagrYa or Weekend Viagrua because its eetcffs start snooer and last much lenogr.

I don't know what percentage of Internet users would have been likely to follow up on a message like this, if it had been spelled correctly. But wouldn't that percentage be pretty severely lowered, losing a significant percentage even of the people who would have responded to a genuine-looking offer for Cialis in their inbox, if the recipients can't even read the message?

It'd be interesting to see some stats on this matter.


13:19 - That's unpossible!
http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/story.jsp?story=497311

(top)
Here are some French nutritionists who are about to get run out of town on a rail:

The Big Mac, epitome of American culture and the junk food revolution, receives an unexpected thumbs up from two leading French nutritionists in a "good food guide" to supermarkets and fast food restaurants published today.

The relative fat-to-protein contents of a Big Mac is considerably healthier than classic French snacks such as quiche lorraine and better than many other sandwiches or fast foods on the market, the authors say.

"Strangely enough, the products which are the most demonised are not necessarily the worst," say Jean-Michel Cohen and Patrick Sérog who analysed 5,000 forms of food readily available to consumers in French shops, supermarkets and restaurants.

What? That cannot be! Next you're gonna tell me that shopping at Wal-Mart with millions of products at historically unprecedented low prices can be construed as superior to spending all weekend running from one downtown mom-and-pop shop to another, or that a modern large middle class has certain advantages over a feudal peasantry, or that indoor plumbing isn't necessarily as bad as an outhouse in a freezing backyard, or that being able to e-mail or fly anywhere in the world on a moment's notice is better than spending your whole 30-year life no more than five miles from your home village.

Get outta here, ya agitator!


12:15 - That's gratitude for ya
http://heraldsun.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5478,8742820%5E2862,00.html

(top)
Stunning. Kentucky Fried Chicken in Australia is running an experiment: remove bacon from the menus, "in favour of Muslim-friendly products." (No mention is given of whether they considered making the food acceptable to Jewish customers to be important as well, or whether there had been any pressure prior to this to make the menu Kosher or anything.)

And what's the reaction to this gesture of goodwill, not to say peace offering? How is this voluntary act of modifying a long-time Western tradition, by removing products that the population at large has always enjoyed having, received by those to whom it's directed?

But the human rights co-ordinator for the Islamic Council of Victoria, Bilal Cleland, warned KFC's menu may not in fact be halal.

"We hope that people are not taken in by this scheme. Just because you take the bacon out of the burgers doesn't make the food halal," he said.

"There has to be authentic certification that the food is halal and I haven't seen any evidence of that."

He said that all the meat, including chicken, must be certified as halal before it was acceptable to Muslims.

"We hope that people are not taken in by this scheme"?!

Geez. You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 2, 2004
16:16 - Pardon a giggle
http://www.starbriteltd.com/

(top)
Okay, now this is just getting silly.



They try so hard... they so don't get it...

Monday, March 1, 2004
19:42 - The power of bumper stickers
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/006101.php#comments

(top)
Tim Blair does seem to attract a commenter clientele who regularly construct these beautifully sculpted masterpieces of encapsulated, self-contained argument threads, doesn't he?

Here's his whole readership assembling themselves into a neat spiral around a loon by the name of "vaara" and taking regimented turns kicking him/her/it in the groin with sarcasm, dramatic irony, metaphor, pathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. They're vicious. But oh, so fun to read. Particularly the poster by the name of Dean, and another (or maybe the same person) posting as "araav".

"vaara" pops back up like a punch-clown a couple of times, reels off some stupid pseudo-riposte, and immediately gets pulled down below the surface. He/she/it hasn't reappeared in some time, not since saying (in effect) "Y'all're a bunch of redneck racists!" quite without context or corroboration; but the thread remains as a true gem, the likes of which I haven't seen since the "how I became a conservative" thread from Valentine's Day weekend.

It's the one that starts out:

Lileks subsequently went through what he describes as a “mid-30s polar realignment”. Mine began earlier and was largely complete by my mid-20s, after I’d endured and observed a gulag-load of left-wing hypocrisy, illogic, and outright wrongness. There’s only so many times you can be told that 2 + 2 = Walrus before this thought strikes: “You know, maybe these people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

...And gets better from there.


13:01 - Gawd
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0304/030104.html

(top)
Anybody who feels that George W. Bush is unusually, ominously, religious and devout for an American president... you read Lileks now.

Now!


04:14 - As my camera battery charges...
http://ip45.arclight.net/~btman/AppleStoreSF/AppleStoreSF.html

(top)

Here are my photos from the SF Apple Store opening. They're more interesting than Apple's own photos. Really! They've got captions and everything!
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