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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Sunday, March 21, 2004
15:59 - S+0p +3rrR0rizzrn N000wWW!!!11!``

(top)
Is this a spam?

I just got two copies of it, one of which was sent to the "owner" address of a mailing list I run; the address isn't used for anything but receiving automated admin-type messages from Majordomo, and it isn't publicized anywhere as a contact address (though I wouldn't be surprised if it's been assimilated into the depths of the Usenet bit-cesspool at some point in the mists of time). Here's what it said:

Subject: Stop Spreading Hatred


I think being a Muslim you are not working for peace. You are misguided, mistaken and spreading hatred through disinformation and false accusations, which is resulting in death and miseries for number of innocent people living around the world at the hands of merciless KILLER MUSLIMS and also bringing bad name to MOHAMMED as Founder Of Islam.

Try and work for peace and reconciliation, and prove to the WORLD through your deeds that MOHAMMED teaches "love & peace" and not Cruelty, Inhumanity and "Hatred & Killing" of the innocent civilians.

S.A.R

I had to re-read it a couple of times to grasp what it was saying and from whose viewpoint it supposedly came. But, well, y'know, I can probably get behind a sentiment like this. More so, certainly, than G3N*R1c V1@grA or anti-depressants for a fun night on the town asgd178v or uphold payroll accept vibrato prosecute extradite sidelight. (God, that last one's got a lot of nerve...!)


15:20 - Slow-motion train wreck
http://users.lmi.net/zombie/sf_rally_march_20_2004/

(top)
Via LGF: photos from this weekend's peaceful peace protests for peace:



Yeah, nice job centering the lettering there, sport.

You know, some time ago I think I recall people warning that as the anti-war Left's cause became more and more ridiculous, their expression of that cause would get more and more bizarre, radical, and blatantly offensive. And it would drag along with it all the shallow but otherwise well-meaning people who simply didn't want war. What started out being a simple popular show of support for extended diplomacy rather than quick militarism (a rational discussion can be had there) would devolve quickly to a showcase of all the looniest and most offensive radical agendas who have coopted the movement: eco-terrorists, Stalinists, Maoists, anti-Semites, dictator-appeasers, people who prefer UN-sanctioned genocide to US-sponsored liberation, and people who feel more sympathy for the terrorists who destroyed the WTC than for the people working inside it or their friends and families.

Yet it was with some skepticism that I read the claims that that's where it would lead. "Surely," I thought, "there would be some repudiation of the true fringe radicals from the mainstream of the movement. Surely there would eventually be a schism, a wilful and voluntary separation of the vapid but otherwise harmless Hollywood bubbleheads from the International ANSWER and Hamas and Saddam apologists. No way would they decide, even a year after the invasion of Iraq, with more Iraqis optimistic about their future than Germans are about theirs, that it's more important to show solidarity under the BUSH=HITLER flags than to purge their ranks to ensure their principles at least are unsullied. ...Right?

What a fool I was.

Congratulations, guys. I hope you're happy in the company you've chosen.

You may now board the express train directly to Hell.

Friday, March 19, 2004
14:21 - So here we all are again
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110004843

(top)
One of the major criticisms of Bush-- the ones I find valid, that is to say-- is that he hasn't been a great communicator. He doesn't give many speeches or press conferences. During Clinton's term, I seem to recall seeing him behind the mike every other time I glanced up. Monicagate notwithstanding, that still seems more or less what I'm used to.

What with several foregoing months of Democratic candidates hammering on Bush with increasingly outrageous accusations, from the AWOL thing to "lying" about Iraq's WMDs, with nary a word emanating from the White House in defense, naturally this makes me jittery. Much as I appreciate seeing snarky speeches from the White House methodically (and hilariously) taking Kerry to pieces, the fact that it's Cheney doing the skewering is surreal in the extreme. What about the Oval Office? What, is it football-and-pretzels season or something?

Well, this morning's speech from Bush is a welcome change. It's well worth a read. It's an excellent piece of perspective, and it covers a lot of the bases we've been pining for him to cover for a long time now. Finally-- inarguable hammering on the "fraudulent coalition" business, a real progress report on Afghanistan (oh yeah, that place), and a stern moral stand on the sickly joys of appeasement.

The news outlets are bound to play the "Even As..." card, saying something like Even as terrorist bombs exploded all over Baghdad like some kind of macabre burlesque of the Fourth of July, President Bush spoke against so-called "terrorism" today, or something equally insipid.

Well, that's a game we all can play. Even as President Bush spoke to laud the contributions and sacrifices of the partners of the US in the War on Terror, John Kerry went snowboarding in Idaho to get away from criticism of his policies. There: moral high ground secured, because I didn't even mention what happened there.

Meh. It's not an easy time to be in my position, reminding myself why Bush needs support this November. Stronghold-bound far-right-wingers aren't making it any too easy to get cozy with the GOP. (I believe it was Goats who reminded us that "nothing good ends in rhea".) But you know, even if I have to be the very model of the nostril-holding citizen come Election Day, there are things whose importance is temporal, and there are things whose importance is timeless.

I'm not going to throw away the future to save the present.


11:23 - The Dane in Spain

(top)
Reader George M. forwards this Rudyard Kipling poem, which seems to be making the rounds:

Dane-geld
(A.D. 980-1016)
Rudyard Kipling

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:—
“We invaded you last night—we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to says:—

“We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

I wonder what contemporary event it was that spurred him to pen this. Guess I've got some homework to do.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
12:43 - Interview posted
http://www.npanet.org/public/interviews/careers_interview_134.cfm

(top)
My interview with Stephen Ibaraki is posted, at the Network Professional Association site (link above) and also at the Canadian Information Processing Society site.

It reads a little oddly, especially toward the beginning, because I don't think the interviewer really had any idea what to ask me; questions like "What triggered your interest in computers?" are impossible to answer without sounding impossibly dorky. Do forgive me on that point. I did my best.

This guy does interviews of people who (according to the sample bio sheet he sent me for my own submission) do things like testify before Congress on technological matters and run the premier security and cryptography sites on the Net and so on-- needless to say I had no idea how I was supposed to compete with characters like that. So do indulge the rather, er, padded-bra bio.

Other than that, though, I got a chance to put a lot of stuff into words that I think is pretty interesting. I may add it to the main Grotto11 front-page-- anything to flesh it out, after all...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004
18:21 - Hey Europe-- ask yourselves why they hate you
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A62387-2004Mar16.html

(top)
This WaPo story requires registration, but it's worth it if just to act as yogurt on sunburn today:

Sociologist Emilio Lamo de Espinosa says Europeans have been dreaming. Writing in Le Monde (in French), Lamo says Europeans have thought they would be spared because they haven't supported the Bush administration's policies.

"When the Americans declared war on terrorism, many of us thought they exaggerated. Many thought terrorism was not likely to occur on our premises, [inhabited by] peaceful and civilized Europeans who speak no evil of anybody, who dialogue, who are the first [to] send assistance and offer cooperation. We are pacifists, they are warmongers. . . . . Don't we defend the Palestinians? Are we not pro-Arab and anti-Israeli?"

"Can we dialogue with those who desire only our death and nothing but our death?" Lamo asks. "Dialogue about what? The manner in which we will be assassinated?"

"The war against terrorism will be long and difficult," he concludes. "It was that cretin, President Bush, who said that."

You know, if you want to change y'all's mind and come along and help us fight, we won't hold any of these past couple years against you.

Seriously.


17:18 - You will eat your gruel and you will like it
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1549265,00.asp

(top)
John C. Dvorak has a beef with Microsoft Office 2003:

It was only after I upgraded my main computer to Office 2003 that I discovered that, for some inexplicable reason, Microsoft had erased one of my favorite programs—Microsoft's own Photo Editor—and seemingly replaced it with the useless Adobe Image Ready program. Actually, the Adobe product doesn't totally suck. It just doesn't have the quick features that I like in Photo Editor. And, oh, yes, get this—aside from the fact that Adobe's product takes ages to load images, you can't print from it. No kidding. Look at the menu. You can't print the darn photos. What kind of thinking is involved here? You can't print a photo? What is the point of this program? Is someone kidding me? Is the process hidden? Is this some sort of scam? Why can't you print? Yes, I'm very annoyed.

First of all, the reason I like Photo Editor, which is not a great product and cannot handle big files, was that it had one or two outstanding filters that I liked to use. Even Photoshop did not have these filters. Now, if I had known that the program—which I thought was mine to use—was going to be blown away, I would have never installed Office 2003. NEVER. The question I have to ask is, exactly what kind of gall does Microsoft have for it to erase perfectly good programs during the installation of anything? I consider this an illegal attack on my computer! Is this what we can expect from "trusted computing?" How is this different than a virus? How does this work with the Justice Department's belief that Microsoft is a good guy looking out for the user? Can someone explain this to me? I'm appalled. I have never seen anything like this, ever.

And I've never seen a tech journalist use the prefix "the miserable" so many times to refer to the same piece of software (in this case, Microsoft Windows Picture and Fax Viewer-- which, let's face it, just isn't a long enough name). It sounds like it's justified, though.

Dvorak ends with:

Okay, I give up. Can we have a new platform, pleeeeze!!!

Um, yes...


16:28 - Hold still-- there's some duct tape on your eyes. Just a sec-- hold on... RRIIIIP!
http://edition.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/03/15/spain.invest/index.html

(top)
Via Andrew Sullivan:

A December posting on an Internet message board used by al Qaeda and its sympathizers and obtained by CNN, spells out a plan to topple the pro-U.S. government.

"We think the Spanish government will not stand more than two blows, or three at the most, before it will be forced to withdraw because of the public pressure on it," the al Qaeda document says.

"If its forces remain after these blows, the victory of the Socialist Party will be almost guaranteed -- and the withdrawal of Spanish forces will be on its campaign manifesto."

That prediction came to fruition in elections Sunday, with the Socialists unseating the Popular Party three days after near-simultaneous bombings of four trains killed 200 and shocked the nation.

As infuriatingly picture-perfect as the operation has been for al Qaeda, for which we can only admire their shrewdness in identifying a soft target and playing it like a cheap violin, there's one thing they gave up this week: the advantage of our uncertainty.

Until now, we've been operating by guesswork. As many Den Bestes as we have, analyzing the situation and the available intelligence and coming up with battle plans likely to hurt the enemy, there are just as many nay-sayers and people convinced that our actions are misguided and our assumptions flawed. Everything we've done, from Afghanistan to Iraq, has been subject to gainsaying and denials of validity-- often from the mouths of the very Taliban or Saddam, claiming to the bitter end that we're attacking them for no reason, that we're using 9/11 as the pretext for an unjust war against innocents (bolstered, of course, by a credulous media only too willing to give more credence to Baghdad Bob than to Donald Rumsfeld). It's been easy for anti-war types to bray in public about how Iraq and al Qaeda are totally unconnected; how al Qaeda is a hobbled threat at best, without the capability to plot anything that would really affect us anymore; how Bush and his conservative allies are bungling the War on Terror and how a leftist or Socialist government could do it better.

But now that's all shot down. Now we have causal links in black and white. Now we know exactly how they're operating, and what kind of tactical goals they're seeking.

Let's absorb this: al Qaeda is out there and operational. They're sorely hurt by Iraq and desperate to see our efforts there fail. And they're rooting for Socialists-- and actively working to install them in office-- because Socialists, whether they intend to be or not, will be on al Qaeda's side.

I wonder if these message boards are where Kerry talks to his "foreign leaders".

There's nothing more I can say. Dammit. How much clearer can the path in front of us get?


12:07 - The Approval of the Enemy

(top)
Just a thought on the subject of Kerry and his "foreign leaders want me to win" business:

Running for President on a platform of having foreign leaders rooting for you is like buying a car from the salesman who has a big plaque behind his desk saying SALES LEADER 2003.

Hint: The fact that he's sold the most cars at that dealership does not mean he's on your side. It doesn't mean he's going to get you a good deal.

It means he's the best at hoodwinking the buyers.


09:54 - A callous moment

(top)
You know what my feelings are right about now, regarding the Spain debacle?

I'm thinking, Good. Go ahead and give up. You see what you morons get.

Is that wrong of me? Does that make me a bad person?

I'll decide later whether I regret saying this. But right now, my gut's telling me something, and I'd better just get it out before it gives me heartburn. It's telling me that If Europe is determined to play this role, let 'em play it to the hilt. It makes things easier, and it might shorten the war.

Why? Well, here's what I'm thinking. Everybody's all concerned that the Europeans are determined bewilderingly to capitulate, apparently having learned nothing from the Sudetenlands of their own history-- or, worse, not regretting it. It could be that Europe actually regards the Chamberlain approach, with open eyes, to be the best path forward. They know where it will lead, and they don't care; it could indeed be that their senses are dulled by time regarding the horrors of what results from fascism, or that a good number of them actually rather enjoyed having the trains run on time and the big colorful banners fly on the ramparts. Fascism is designed to be pleasing to the crowds, after all; maybe the Europeans just have this thing for fascism. Maybe it's just in their bones.

Maybe they feel like it's about time for another Big Nasty Event to happen among the hallowed halls of the ancient redoubts of Carolingia, something-- anything!-- to spice things up and provide a little diversion on a scale they can tell their kids about. If it's Islamofascism instead of Hitlerism, well, potato, potahto. They've been through it before, right? And who really suffered but the military and some Jews?

I'm feeling like the Europeans regard America as a bigger worry and a bigger threat than resurgent fascism in their own backyards. Sure, you say-- that goes without saying; it's what everybody's been saying for months. But think about exactly what it means. Think about how perfectly all the events line up with this model. The Europeans are more concerned with spiting the Yanks than they are about fighting terrorism aimed at the direct overthrow of their own governments. They'll happily capitulate to the terrorists if it means poking a stick in the eye of America.

I didn't want to believe it had gotten this bad, but apparently it has. And there's nothing left, it seems, but to just play along. It's the only way to get this thing over with as quickly and cleanly as possible.

See, here's the thing: We've been making all these noises about how worried we are that Europe won't act like America when attacked. Sure, al Qaeda hasn't gone after America since 9/11, because we fight back-- they know that now. Now they're going to attack Europe, the "soft underbelly" of the West (as we ourselves called Spain and Italy way back when), and Europe isn't going to fight back the way we did. Well, so what? Sure, it'll encourage al Qaeda to attack more of Europe-- but the faster that happens, the closer we get to the inevitable war that will drag in the whole world once again. If Europe were to act like America and fight back, then al Qaeda would just take longer to rebuild, longer in between attacks, just long enough to keep the blows coming as a series of low-level wounds that we never quite can keep pace with. The war would be a police action, fought through diplomacy and special ops and infiltrators, and it would take decades and cost tens of thousands of lives.

But if Europe's going to encourage more and faster attacks against soft Western targets, then those attacks will come. And with each one, America's resolve will harden. Let Andalusia fall. Let Lyon impose shari'a. Let the Vatican burn. How many of these things will it take before Europe decides to get serious? It'll happen eventually. But all the while, America would still be fighting. We'll remain in Iraq even if every other nation withdraws. Whatever other lesson al Qaeda draws from this, they won't conclude that attacking America directly again is worth it. They've got a honeypot now: Europe.

Western pundits speak in horrified terms of a coming war, on the scale of WWII, as though it's to be avoided at all costs. We seem to believe that this whole "terrorism" thing can just be smoothed over, solved diplomatically, even by those people who understand the necessity of force. There's an unwillingness to confront the possibility that the only way this war will end is in the trenches. But I'm starting to think that anything short of that will be absolutely insufficient; the enemy will always just rise back up again unless they're burned out by the roots.

War and Tyranny are both awful. But here's the difference: Americans believe Tyranny is worse, whereas Europeans believe War is worse. (We're used to War, and Europe is used to Tyranny.) I think War is coming, because Tyranny is coming first.

Of course I don't want al Qaeda to blow people up. It would be great if they just stayed home and passed resolutions like the UN, remaining pleasantly bland and feckless just like the Europeans. But if they're going to attack, if it's part of their nature that can't be excised any more than a wasp can be trained not to sting, then these attacks each need to teach us more how to defend against them, lest the victims die pointlessly, in vain.

Imagine what would have happened if Chamberlain hadn't appeased Hitler-- if Churchill had been in office at the time and had told him where he could stick his Sudetenland. Would it have averted war? Hardly-- it would have sent Hitler back to Berlin in a fury, determined more than ever to win. He'd have built up his army to an astonishing power within his borders, and the blitz through Poland might have come in 1940 or 1943-- but it would have happened. Hitler would have fought more patiently, more methodically. And who knows-- by 1950 he might have been Führer of all Europe. Could even America have challenged him then?

Instead, Chamberlain served to bait Hitler into war before he really had a sustainable advantage. He attacked thinking he'd face no opposition-- as indeed he didn't in France in 1940. But remove Pearl Harbor from the picture, and Europe could have gone another three years before anyone seriously tried to take Hitler down. I don't think we would have had a chance.

These attacks in Europe-- Madrid, and whatever is bound to come next in Britain or the Netherlands or Germany-- are the Pearl Harbors of this war. They're what's going to whip up a sudden wave of reaction, whether from America and Australia and Britain or from (as if) the attacked European countries themselves. This reaction will be what's necessary to stamp out Islamofascism before it's really had a chance to form an unbeatable infrastructure. The sooner the better, after all. If Europe remained safe for another five years, though, imagine the public attitudes toward the WoT. Would it even be in the news? Only as a matter of derision. Terrorism? the people would sneer. Don't make me laugh! That's soooo 2001! Nobody on Earth would have the mandate or the funds to pursue the war effectively. And it would drag on like that, timed ideally for al Qaeda to whittle away at the infidels, helping their below-replacement-rate population decline along, for decades. Leaving us in a much worse position than we're in today.

We need to get this done now. And as horrible as it sounds, the more attacks in Europe right now, the more vividly al Qaeda makes its point that it's not going away, the better our chances of mustering the courage and the wherewithal to take them out, swiftly, decisively-- in a way we can commemorate by flashing V-signs at the cameras.

Monday, March 15, 2004
22:53 - What? What? I can't hear you!

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Mac OS X 10.3.3 is out, and it contains the following feature:

* Improves Fan Control system function for Power Mac G5 computers.

Know what that means? It means that where once upon a time the G5's fan system would run at a barely-audible breathy, musical whir, and would periodically spin up for increased cooling on demand whenever the CPUs had extra work to do-- now, instead, presumably for Improved Functionality™, the fans just spin at medium-high speed all the time. They've gone constant-speed. Why, I can only guess-- but if the "idle" G5 fan noise level (on a scale of 0 to 100) was about a 15, and the "panic" mode (when you open up the case and take off the plastic baffle dividing the airflow regions) is like 85, now it floats along at roughly 54.8, sounding like nothing so much as your average, random Dell.

What the hell?

C'mon, Apple! What'd you do, give up? Whatever problem you were having getting those fans to behave, couldn't you have made it software-controllable or something-- so we could go back to the old behavior if we so chose?

This isn't as bad as the When Macs Attack G5 fan levels, but it's still likely to be audible while I try to sleep. I guess I'll probably be able to get used to it, but... I am not a happy Brian. No, precious. Not happy at all.

UPDATE: Hmm. Well, actually the fans seem to have spun back down to their accustomed whisper-quiet level sometime during the night. Okay, I officially don't understand.


14:40 - Classical Music Metadata Redux (hah! More like "incrux")
http://alanlittle.org/weblog/ClassicalID3.html

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Alan Little has picked up where I left off regarding classical music metadata organization in ID3 tags and iTunes-- and shown just how badly I underestimated the scale of the problem in the first place. And you know, I knew I was skipping a ton of stuff. I just didn't want to think about it.

Alan is much more thorough, though. Using real data-modeling techniques, he pulls apart a typical piece of classical music and identifies all the pieces of information that get jammed together to make the title of a Beethoven quartet or Haydn symphony. So much of this stuff dates back to a time when musical notation itself was still fairly new-- let alone, say, works' naming conventions-- that it seems many people who have tried this before, such as those intrepid souls who came up with the "BWV ###" numbering system to formalize the cataloging of old compositions, eventually were overcome with despair and gave up their numeration effort before they even got around to doing Beethoven.

I have to imagine that Apple's been thinking about how to handle this. Probably a lot of Little's ideas are already on whiteboards somewhere in the iTunes group, probably languishing under newer and sexier diagrams and drawings of cartoon characters, the edges of the critical listings of field names nibbled away by dry-erase rot and spritzed with a few mistings of cleanser. I wouldn't doubt it if they've been batting around ideas for how to make the classical music listening experience as fully digital as modern music from the CD age has so easily become; but as soon as they start to really embrace how big a project it is, it just rolls over and crushes them, and they go out for Thai.

It'll involve a whole different layer to iTunes, frankly-- and a whole new ID3 tag version and set of fields that probably only iTunes will support. Yeah, once all those fields are in place-- imagine having a separate browser column for each of the six-plus fields in Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 9 in C op.59 “Rasumovsky” no.3-- iTunes will make short work of drilling down to the level where you want to start your playback. But the visual representation will look markedly different from what we're used to.

Probably what Apple's waiting for is for the music-buying market to make more of a determined shift to the digital realm and away from CDs, where classical music was never really at home anyway. In fact, every form of recording ever available has been miserable for classical-- only modern rock and pop and such, the genres popularized in the vinyl era, evolved under the influence of mass marketing and tuned themselves to match the medium. Classical never had anything but the live performance to define its structure. And it's only now, with on-demand digital downloads, that a careful distributor can recreate the experience of a live classical performance with a delivery mechanism that approximates what the composer might have had in mind. If Apple reaches the decision point where it concludes that there's good money to be made on a sufficiently-sized market segment that's interested in classical music downloads (I doubt it'd be infested with file-sharing scofflaws, but that's just a hunch), then they might get serious.

But it won't be easy. Nobody wants to tackle this. Otherwise there'd be third-party shareware MP3 players specifically designed for classical music already floating around the download sites, and if there are any, they haven't crossed my radar. iTunes wasn't the first application of its kind; it leveraged the work that many independent developers did before Apple ever took an interest in Digital Hub stuff. And I suspect they'll want to see if public interest, as indicated by the windsock of where third-party development effort gets spent, will support a classical iTunes before they commit to productizing the idea.

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© Brian Tiemann