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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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Monday, April 19, 2004
04:03 - Samurai, snakes, rock salt, the Mexican Jack Nicholson, and exploding hearts and eyeballs

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The thing about Quentin Tarantino is that he appears to inhabit a universe where every man, woman, and child is a high-powered trained assassin.

That said, Kill Bill is a pretty damned good story, and one that can be enjoyed even if you aren't a hitman. Believe it or not.

I saw Vol. 1 on DVD Friday night, and Vol. 2 Saturday night in theaters. The second part is definitely a different style of movie, but it flows seamlessly from the first one-- the places where the differences between the two are most jarring result from not knowing, at the end of the first half, most of the backstory that made the characters and the premise make sense. In Vol. 2, everything is tied back up in a nice little bow, far better (I think) than in Pulp Fiction; all the meandering plot elements find their way home, and it all comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

And I've just gotta say that David Carradine's performance as Bill is Oscar-worthy, and that's being stingy. It's packed with the kinds of full-bodied, tooth-cracking lines that Tarantino is famous for, and a delivery that you just can't peel yourself away from—it's like eating those cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster: you know you ought to stop, but you just can't.

Worth catching in the theaters, in other words. But for God's sake, see the first half first. Imagine what following the plot of Pulp Fiction would be like if you walked in halfway through. (Wait, actually that would probably make it simpler... so, bad example...)

UPDATE: I've gotta say, though, that the thing about making it a "wedding rehearsal" rather than a "wedding"-- and a dress rehearsal, at that, to make sure they were in gowns and tuxes, but to provide for all the lingering conversations-- feels like it was tacked-on after Vol. 1 was completed, because Tarantino hadn't thought out the plot point thoroughly enough. Or, rather, it's either majorly contrived, or Tarantino smirkily wants us to think it's majorly contrived. Knowing him, I'd just about put my money on the latter.

Sunday, April 18, 2004
22:11 - Snopes is on the case
http://www.snopes.com/photos/commercials/sportka.asp

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Those "SportKa" ads have been circulating over the past couple of weeks.

You know the ones.

If you don't, this link-- the Snopes page covering the ongoing controversy surrounding them-- has them archived. Scroll to the bottom of the page and view the two movie clips before reading the story, if you want my advice. (And I know you're just aching for it.)

It's one of those things that makes me think, damn, that's offensive. Good for them!


19:49 - Change! Change! Change at all costs!
http://opinion.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/04/18/ueton.xml&sSheet

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Another link via LGF: Eton College in Britain "is appointing an imam to promote Islam to the children of Britain’s upper crust".

Eton College is to become the first top public school in the country to appoint an imam to help pupils gain an understanding of Islamic culture and thought.

The school, which has taught 18 British prime ministers, is also to offer Arabic as a language for the first time from this September to increase better understanding of the Muslim world.

The appointment of Oxford graduate Monawar Hussain has already been supported by many who say it is a positive initiative on behalf of Eton and a sign that many traditional British institutions are changing.

This is what I find so baffling and maddening: there are those to whom "change" is the most positive possible thing, the word "progressive" is the best ever to codify a thought, and "traditional institutions" are nothing more than an evil to be eradicated.

Never mind what we're "changing" into. As long as we're changing. As long as we're making progress.


18:13 - Charming
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&u=/nm/20040418/wl_nm/serbiamontenegro_k

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Via LGF: apparently the next phase in the War on Terror has been unveiled, and it's the UN:

United Nations (news - web sites) police in Kosovo are holding four Jordanian members of the force following a gunbattle with U.S. police in which two American women prison officers and a Jordanian male were killed.

"Four Jordanians were detained yesterday after the incident and they are in custody," U.N. Police Commissioner Stefan Feller told a news conference in the provincial capital, Pristina.

"We don't know the motive," he said in response to questions about a report that violent emotions over Iraq (news - web sites) was behind the clash. "I cannot say the reasons for the incident," Feller added, calling it a "reckless attack."

Let's review: yesterday, Israel takes out Abdel Aziz Rantisi, co-founder of Hamas and perpetrator of countless acts of commissioning terror attacks. Today, Jordanian UN peacekeepers open fire on American members of their own force.

Shee-yah, that can't be right!

Whatever the cause, a lethal firefight is unprecedented between two of the 30 or so national contingents of the Kosovo U.N. law enforcement mission, which numbers some 3,500 officers.

“I have to say, this was a sad day for U.N. peacekeeping,” Feller said. But he said no changes to the mission were planned.

Maybe, but it's also only the latest in a long line of moral and military disasters for the UN, ranging from Srebrenica to Rwanda to the Iraq Oil-For-Blood program to Kosovo, where we risked our soldiers' lives to defend Muslims from genocide. And the UN may pay lip service to condemning this act, but what do you suppose the real position is of those voting members of the UN Security Council, those illustrious representatives of free democracies like Syria, Saudia Arabia, Egypt, Sudan, and China?

America doesn't want to believe that the UN is, in fact, our enemy now. Their voting against our interests in such a predictable bloc over the past many years hasn't swayed us much; we've worn the plastic grin and just hoped reality would someday come to match our fantasy of benevolent, peaceful world government. But maybe being in a shooting war with other UN members, who are wearing UN uniforms at the time, will change the tone of things a bit.


16:12 - About that money of "yours"
http://www.interocitor.com/archives/000286.html

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Get a load of what The Interocitor has found (via Dean Esmay): the original 1040 form, the very first income tax form from 1913.



Imagine what this must have been like: all your life, the money you've made is the money you keep. No crap about "take-home pay" or "incremental payments" or W-2 forms. Your wage is your wage, and the government doesn't have to know a thing about it.

Then, one day in early '14, you get a form in the mail that says: THE PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO HAVE THIS RETURN IN THE HANDS OF THE COLLECTOR OF INTERNAL REVENUE ON OR BEFOR MARCH 1 IS $20 TO $3,000.

And right after that, it says we're the government, and we're here to help. So give us 1% of whatever money you earned. Or else.

(Or, if you made more $20,000, 2%, or higher, up to 6% for people making half a million bucks a year or more.)

We take this sort of thing for granted nowadays; we've had income taxes all our lives, and even though it now gets calculated at rates ten times what they were in 1913, it all gets withheld by the employer, and all we're doing at tax time is fine-tuning the last couple thousand bucks up or down.

What must it have been like, in 1913, for people to suddenly have to work out what one-one-hundredth of what they earned that year was, and dig it out of bank accounts or mattresses, under the baleful eyes of glowering, fedora-adorned agents in dark suits, and send it in to Washington?

I know it would have made me feel weird, no matter how many Interstate highways they promised me it would buy.

Friday, April 16, 2004
17:31 - Wish your problems away
http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2004/04/zoop_and_theyre.html

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Wow. I don't think I'll ever be able to enjoy a game of "Zip, Zap, Zoop" at a party or improv show again. Because "Zoop" will now unavoidably be embedded in my mind as the magic word that John Kerry uses to make Republicans go away.

I don't think we need a script or a rehearsal, people - we all know our parts. Let's have the "he was kidding crowd" to our left, please, the "earnest but humorless" group to the right, and our topic is Sen. Kerry's recent quip to a group of 4 and 5 year olds:

Mr. Kerry obliged, but still seemed to have politics on the brain as he narrated the story of the magic wand — "Zoop!" — making things disappear.

"I could go zoop! and Republicans would disappear," he said.

Now, the crowd on the left has it easy - just keep yelling "he was kidding". "Don't we have more important issues to discuss" is also good. Counter-examples of bad Bush behavior are encouraged; lacking that, we are glumly aware of a certain tendency to drift towards personal invective as a substitute for actual argument, and we hope that can be minimized.

The group on the right - be sure to mention press bias. The Note admitted that Sen. Clinton got a pass on her Gandhi joke a while back, so see if anyone makes a similar admission here. Also, we expect you to hit on the probable response if Bush had said this - don't forget Ashcroft, the Patriot Act, stifling of dissent, the importance of our leaders promoting pluralism, etc. Let's see some emotion!

. . .

For a big finish, someone please make a connection to Kerry's "lying, crooked Republicans" comment, and address the question of whether Kerry really wants to be President of all the country, or just half of it.

My guess is that he wants to be President of the easily amused.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
18:24 - From the, er, mouths of babes...
http://www.inktank.com/AT/index.cfm?nav=970

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Today's Angst Technology:



Slowly winning 'em over, one online strip at a time.


18:18 - How An Italian Dies
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/006475.php

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In a word: well.

As the gunman's pistol was pointing at him the hostage "tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'now I'll show you how an Italian dies,'" [Frattini] said.

Reportedly Al-Jazeera refused to broadcast this murder because it was "too gruesome". Shyeah, like that's ever stopped them before.

We know why they didn't broadcast it.


13:15 - Nobody's Perfect
http://slate.msn.com/id/2098860/

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Wait a minute. This woman is an NPR commentator?

I speak of Ann Louise Bardach, who tore Oliver Stone a new one in this interview over his recent Castro-love-fest documentaries.

ALB: Now, when you were talking to the prisoners who tried to hijack a plane, one told you he was a fisherman, and you said, "Why then didn't you take a boat?" Why did you ask that?

OS: Well, it seemed to me that if they were familiar with boats, it seemed to be the best way.

ALB: Did you know that in Cuba there are virtually no boats? The boats that are used for fishermen are tightly controlled. One of the more surreal aspects of Cuba, being the largest island in the Caribbean, is that there are no visible boats.

OS: I see.

. . .

ALB: For the second film, you received permission to see the dissidents Osvaldo Paya, Vladimiro Roca, and Elizardo Sanchez. They spoke critically of the government. Obviously, that couldn't have happened unless permission for them to see you was granted, right? What do you make of Castro allowing that to happen?

OS: I don't think he was happy with it. I don't think he wants to be in the same film with Paya. In his mind they are faux dissidents.

ALB: He actually calls them faux dissidents? He called them the so-called dissidents?

OS: Yeah, so-called, right. I was in Soviet Russia for a script in 1983, and I interviewed 20 dissidents in 12 cities. I really got an idea of dissidents that was much rougher than here. These people in Cuba were nothing compared to what I saw in Russia.

ALB: Did you ever think to bring up why he doesn't hold a presidential election?

OS: I did. He said something to the effect, "We have elections."

ALB: Local representative elections. But what about a presidential election?

OS: We didn't talk about it, especially in view of the fact that our own 2000 elections were a little bit discredited.

Bardach comes across as a clear-eyed and quick-witted historian, and Stone comes across as a clueless partisan nimrod. And yet, for some reason, people don't caricature him as a poop-flinging simian.

Don't miss the moral judgment Stone renders upon Castro on the basis of his shoulders.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
03:41 - The face of the enemy

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Poor, poor victims. So persecuted. So hounded. So terribly in danger of having their voices squelched by the merciless boot of The Man.

Who am I talking about? "Dissenters", of course.

The ones who threaten violence against anyone who dares to come near them with an opposing opinion.

Behold, via Tim Blair, the words of an Indymedia protestor in Melbourne (where "Liberal" means "right wing"):

My immediate reaction was to charge at these bastards and try to smash thier placards and hurt them as much as possible. I was accompanied by several other enraged demonstrators. Unfortunately the more militant socialist groups had already marched away so most of the immediate crowd complained that we where ruining a peaceful march. I stand by the actions we took. When Liberals have the confidence to attend a anti-war demo it clearly isn't a good sign.

If people are serious about activism they should realise that change doesn't come from wishing problems away it comes from militant direct action. By standing there debating with a bunch of right wingers at a rally, not only are people wasting time and demoralising everyone, they are giving them confidence to come back and disrupt more rallies. In the ideal situation Young Liberals should be left bruised, bashed and bleeding if they dare show thier face at a rally like that. That way they will be more hesitant about coming next time, and if they do the police will be more likely to quickly move them on.

And let's not forget Exhibit B, Racist Democrats On Parade. And Exhibit C, while we're at it.

Just rounding up some of the more outrageous things I've seen in the past few days. Someday it'll prove useful to have these links handy.


03:28 - UNethical
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=10663_New_Poll

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Charles at LGF is running a poll for a new name for the UN's astonishingly corrupt Oil-For-Food program.

My vote goes for "UNron". Though "UNSCUM" and "Oil-For-Blood" are also good.


03:12 - The movie idea that dare not speak its name
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0404/041504.html

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I'd like to take this moment to thank Mark Steyn for not showing up on Hugh Hewitt's show today.

Because if it had, then Lileks might have hashed all this out on the air, and he might not have written it down. And I might not have gotten to read it.

This will sound crass, but bear with me.

9/11 would make a hell of a movie.

It’s the most dramatic day of modern times. The story lines are clear; it writes itself. You don’t have to make up heroic characters; every minute has a dozen. No Hollywood falsities need intrude – no star-crossed lovers, no cheerful archetypes, no swelling music (take a cue from “A Night to Remember,” which didn’t introduce an orchestral score until halfway through, to great effect.) Just tell the story as it happened that day, and people would cram the theaters by the millions. Just like they went to see “The Passion.” And with the same emotions, I’d bet: from the opening moments the audience would have the same sick clot in their stomachs, the same old throb of dread we all felt during “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” This wasn’t pleasant, but it was important to see it, and know.

It doesn’t demean the day to make a movie of it, anymore than it would be an insult to write a novel about the events. Movies are how we tell stories; they’re the means by which the culture coalesces around certain ideas, or learns which ideas they should coalesce around.

And that’s the problem. I wonder whether Hollywood execs shy from a 9/11 movie because they think it might send the wrong message.

It would anger people anew, and we’re supposed to be past that. It would remind us what was done to us instead of rubbing out noses in what we do to others – I mean, unless you have a character in the second tower watching the plane approaching and saying “My God, this is payback for supporting Israel!” it’s going to come across as simplistic nonsense that denies the reality in the West Bank, okay? It would have to tread lightly when it came to the President, because even though we all knew that he wet his pants and ran to hide, we’d have to pretend and do scenes in Air Force One where he’s taking charge instead of crying help mommy to Dick Cheney, right? I mean the idiots in flyover people believe that stuff, and you’d have to give it to them or they write letters with envelopes that have these little pre-printed return address stickers with flags up in the corner. Seriously. Little flag stickers. Anyway, we would have to show Arab males as the bad guys, and that’s not worth the grief; you want to answer the phone when CAIR sees the dailies of the guys slitting the stewardess’ throats? And here’s the big one: if we make a patriotic movie during Bush’s term, well, it doesn’t help the cause, you know. People liked Bush after 9/11. Why remind them of that? Plus, you can just kiss off the European markets, period.

Richard Clarke’s book is available? Here’s a blank check. Option that sucker.

Yeah. That's what irked me so much about Sony's making that movie out of Against All Enemies. It's not so much that it's like a Michael Moore fantasy with a Titanic budget. It's that it'd be the first 9/11 movie, produced during our military response to it, and it'd be a movie with a political motivation other than let's win.

And that's just nauseating.

Anyway, read the whole thing; it's a keeper. (Like that's unusual.)


16:45 - A little fear of God is a good thing

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Read this post by Mike of Cold Fury, regarding the true-believing fifth-columners right here within our borders; and then read CapLion's response to it:

I would contend that there are two distinct camps in the anti-war crowd. There are the Berkeley brats and the Evan Maloney interviewees-- mostly amiable leftists against the big bad establishment as it's still the in thing to do among the more bellbottoms than brains crowd. That's fine, I can handle stupid kids doing stupid things, that's more or less a given.

What worries me, though, is the other camp. The organizers. The sympathizers. The people who carry North Korean and Palestinian flags and actually believe that the US should be destroyed, and have for some 20 years of their lives. These people are the price we pay for the 1st Amendment.

I'm glad they exist, in principle. I'm glad we can point to them as they rave and rant about things they've never actually experienced or even have a basic understanding of and say, that's the difference. Those people aren't being dragged off to the gulag for dissent against the government. Our system works better.

However, there must be a line in the sand, when it's no longer free speech and dissent. When it comes to aiding and abetting the enemy, these people have to be removed from society and pay the price of their actions.

. . .

Now, I know some of my readers will balk at the implication that people chanting clever little slogans and waving signs are committing treason and should be put to death because of it. To those people, I'll say this: I would tend to agree with you. However, when those slogans are "Burn America, Burn" and the signs read "War against America is the real war on terror", it's time to draw a line and say this crap stops here.

These people, as I said, are a byproduct of the freedom we all enjoy. 50 years ago, we had a strong society that simply wouldn't tolerate this sort of thing. If a gaggle of morons walked down main street in the 50's waving flags of the Soviet Union, men would have loosened their ties, rolled up their sleeves, and proceeded to whip the snot out of them. The cops, if anything, would likely join them. The local judge, if anything, would probably charge the people getting the snot whipped out of them with inciting a riot or disturbing the peace or some such.

Unfortunately, for all our marvelous advances in technology, medicine and manufacturing, society has been going to hell in a hand cart for the last forty years. Instead of men rolling up their sleeves to deal with such things, we're now forced to stand by the sidelines and grumble, lest we be charged with assault by the justice system that has been so mutilated by soccer moms and trial lawyers, it's possible to sue fast food chains because you're fat or are prone to drop coffee in your lap.

For a parallel perspective, read this article on South Korea and its relationship to North Korea, via InstaPundit; note the changing attitudes among young South Koreans, who have never known war with the North, but who have always known an American military presence. Who do they think is the bigger threat?

Most of the anti-war keyboard commandos here in America today are like these South Korean kids, worshipping an idol of a world that they think may as well exist because they've simply never seen first-hand evidence to the contrary. Most of the hard-core Left here has never lived through a real, home-front-gripping war—or if they have, it was Vietnam, which gave them a legacy of righteous anti-patriotism that something like World War II never would have in a million years. People who grow up learning only the lessons of Vietnam naturally come to believe that the U.S. is at the very least capable of evil as much as it is of good, and that war is fundamentally bad. There's an element of truth in each of these statements—but it's only an element, among others. There are mitigating circumstances. Someone growing up with the lessons of WWII and Vietnam would be able to balance "The U.S. sometimes gets sucked into wars that are cruel and unjust and it shouldn't be involved in" with "The U.S.'s performance in WWII was so valiant as to set it and its allies above any other nation in the history of the world on questions of morality", and "War is bad" with "War sometimes is necessary to remove a greater evil than war".

But without those balancing elements, the positive lessons of America's military history as well as the negative ones, there's only negative energy in these people's brains. They see no concrete, first-hand evidence to counter their condemnations of the thing they have seen America do, and so their frame of reference is fatally imbalanced. Through it, even the good things America does-- good on the scale of WWII, even-- are evil.

These people don't even really "hate America", per se-- or at least, not the principle of America. Press them, and they'll say they're fighting for freedom and for democracy; even the far-Left kooks at least believe that those words should be on their banners, even if their interpretation of them is twisted beyond recognition. Their idea of "freedom" is what Europe has, or aspires to have: freedom from poverty and sickness and envy and war, rather than actual individual liberty—"free beer" rather than "free speech". (The two are mutually exclusive, diametrically opposed concepts, yet they use the same vocabulary, unfortunately.) They're not actually arguing for slavery or for theocracy or for monarchy. At least, not if you force them to explain their reasoning.

What they hate is what they perceive America to have become, or to have refused to become; they're personally affronted that America has not simply ceased to matter as a national entity, that a Roddenberry-esque world government has not risen to benevolent power, with all national governments subservient to it, and with all cultures in the world inviolate from each other and yet coexisting peacefully. They see imbalance of global power as being the culprit for this failure, and since the U.S. is the only superpower left, well—that's gotta come down, man. No matter what kind of destruction of human life and achievement that really entails. It's gotta go.

So any exercise of American military power, seen through the inevitable lens of Vietnam, automatically becomes an act of injustice aimed at preserving American supremacy—bad—and inevitably polluting other cultures with our own—bad. In their minds, any setback to world government (which is seen as the only real guarantor for peace that they can stomach, because for some reason if there's world government, everyone will just be peaceful-- all wars are merely the result of American injustice, after all) is held much higher in importance than any threat to American citizens, much less to American interests, or to the American economy fueled by American corporations.

But it is anti-American to wave the signs that Mike links to. Whatever these people think they're fighting for, whether the America they hold in their minds as the ideal future is real or merely a college kid's juvenile fantasy, they're causing deep damage to this country, now, in the present day, made up of us people. We are America, and if these people think we're the problem, then they're our enemies. So there.

So the question on everyone's tongue is, "At what point does this anti-American rabble-rousing cross the line into prosecutable treason?" It's a question that hasn't needed asking since Vietnam, and even then it never really went anywhere. But at the risk of bringing about the kind of all-out Civil War that I've been suggesting might indeed be in our future, something needs to happen that clearly delineates the answer to that question. To use ugly and cliché language, someone needs to be made an example of. They need to have the fear of God put into them.

If for no other reason than to throw into stark relief just how much people have been getting away with, and how harshly they would have been treated if they'd done their rabble-rousing in any other country. Particularly in one of the dictatorships whose flags they so proudly wave.

We need a new historical context, something for people to use as a yardstick. Right now the only measurement people can make is "how far are we from Vietnam?" We need a new one: "How far are we from WWII?"

Or, as Mike Silverman says in CapLion's comments:

The problem is that most Americans have forgotten what an enemy is...someone you have to kill because otherwise he will kill you.

There was a brief moment after 9/11 when it looked like that would change, but in the end, 9/11 wasn't enough of a shock to the system to change the dominant way the US public thinks, which is basically that as long as "Friends" airs on time and the local mall is full of fun stuff to buy, nobody really cares what radicals (here and overseas) are saying about us.

Our collective sense of context is badly broken, and with it our ability to filter experience. This is what needs to change... and sooner or later, somehow or other, it will.


14:25 - Black Screen of Annoyance Update

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By the way, just in case anybody is wondering for no adequately explored reason...

Some time ago, I outlined a problem with my new dual-2.0GHz G5, a problem that I'd discovered later had been widely reported on the various support forums as the "Black Screen of Annoyance". Apparently, on some first-generation G5s with DVI or ADC monitors attached (such as my 22" Cinema Display), if you put the machine to sleep, unplugged/replugged the monitor, or changed video modes, the monitor would go black and never come back to life. Even if you rebooted.

The first time this happened, I frantically tried to track down the problem by taking the monitor (which I suspected as the culprit) down into the garage and plugging it into the old G4; it didn't turn on, so I assumed the monitor was indeed dead, called AppleCare, and sent it in for service. A few days later, it showed up on my doorstep again with a note that said NO DEFECT FOUND, and a charge on my credit card for $300.

I plugged it back in, and seemed to work; but a few days later, the problem recurred, and I was back to blackness. So I sent the monitor back in, and this time it came back with a whole bunch of internal components having been replaced-- circuit board assemblies and the like-- and at no charge. I plugged it in, it seemed to work... and that was that.

...Or so I thought. It turned out not to be fixed at all; the problem happened again shortly afterwards. But by this time I'd figured out a cheat that got my monitor back to working order: if it went black, I'd shut down the computer (blindly), unplug the monitor from the computer and from its external power supply (this is a DVI monitor, not one of the spiffy later ADC ones that they're apparently thinking of dropping, which would be such a pity), wait about fifteen seconds, plug it back in, and boot it up. The monitor would usually come to life again if I did all that, so I just sort of lived with the occasional monitorial crapulence for the next several months.

But about a week ago, something new happened: my UPS went kerplooey. It shut itself down, stopped feeding power to the computer and monitor, and emitted a thin nasal whining beeeep... beeeep.... beeeep.... while flashing its "Replace Battery" light. Now, this is the second time in a year that my UPS's battery has died. What could possibly be causing this? ...Well, it turns out that the UPS in question simply wasn't designed to support a full workstation-class computer; the G5's power supply draws 600 watts (!), and the UPS is only rated for 200. A-heh-heh. Okay. So.

I bought a cheapo surge-protecting power strip to plug the computer into while I tried to dig up a reason that will convince myself that I need a UPS for my computer. (I was unable to think of one, aside from power conditioning, which can be had for much lower cost than a full prosumer-class UPS.) And booted up the G5. Annnnnd.... the monitor didn't come on.

I tried the power-cycle-with-unplug trick. Didn't work.

Hmm.

I tried it a few more times, stressing out the G5's journaling filesystem every time, I'm sure; but to no avail. The monitor was well and truly dead.

Or was it? I knew, in the back of my mind, that this problem had only started after I'd bought the G5; the monitor was fine before that. So I called AppleCare. They had me reset my NVRAM, and then reset the PRAM, which worked temporarily; but then, just after I hung up the phone, as I was unplugging the cables to get everything back to where they were supposed to be after being all tangled up during testing, the sleep cycle got zapped and the monitor died again.

So that was it. I took both the G5 and the monitor in to the Valley Fair Apple Store, where the guy behind the Genius Bar chuckled and mentioned ruefully that he'd seen the dead-monitor problem quite a bit with early G5s. I left the equipment with him and headed back to the office.

Early the next morning, the store called to let me know that it was all fixed. "Video card," the guy said.

In some of the early G5s, the video card—ATI Radeon 9600—was defective in its wake-handling behavior. At the store, they'd tried plugging in their own test monitor, and it didn't come up. So they knew right away that it was the computer's problem; they didn't even need to start down my lengthy list of suggestions for how to reproduce the problem (juggle the cords while the computer is asleep; change video modes; turn on the iTunes visualizer; wiggle your fingers and go booga-booga-booga). When I went in that afternoon to pick it up, the Cinema Display was still happily dormant, its cord wrapped around it like the tail of a sleeping cat. The G5 was running a diagnostic, using an in-store monitor connected to its new, third-generation Radeon card. All looked well.

It was all under warranty, so I paid nothing. And since then, there has been no recurrence of the problem. Fingers are crossed. But now I know what to tell any hapless person who has a G5 whose monitor occasionally goes black and never comes back to life.

And let me tell you something else: I remember a time when the monitor was the most difficult part of your computer to carry in from your car. That G5 is frickin' heavy!


13:46 - Spooky ninja powers

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On a mailing list that I help run, the topic of self-defense came up. It was all going along very amicably, with reasonable points being raised and good anecdotes being told.

Then, this one person, who had introduced himself by claiming to be taking ninjitsu classes, from an instructor who could "kill you with your own fingernails if he tried", says:

If any man in the american millitary can take Hatsumi I will pay them a
thousand bucks.

Mentality or not, no redneck military guy is going to pound someone who
dedicates 50 years to a martial art.

Several people, including the list's other moderator, replied with stern rebukes, pointing out that to tar all military people as "rednecks", or to show this kind of blithe, contemptuous disrespect to people whose job it is to protect us with their lives, is odious in the extreme. Y'know, just-- lay off the unthinking epithets, all right? We understand you believe wholeheartedly in the Real Ultimate Power, but even a ninja is susceptible to a kick in the balls. Or, say, a gun.

We thought that might be the end of it. But nooOOooo:

Don't bitch about stereotypes when you compare some crash course in self
defense given by an elitist jock club to a multi thousand year old technique
that's been practiced for more generations than this country has existed.

With all the fraud in the industry in the US, it's kind've annoying when
people downplay martial arts because they're comparing military guys to some
poorly run organization lead by a guy who gave himself a black belt.

What floored me about this quote was the part about "elitism". He's complaining about elitism in the midst of a contention that all modern military training is inferior to ancient martial arts, particularly the kind he's taking classes in.

It never fails to amaze me how people can completely miss the irony in what's coming out of their mouths or spewing from their fingertips.

And this is to say nothing of the fact that there were no ninjas on Flight 93:

What troubles me about Fielding's statement is that all of our system's did not fail. One of them succeeded --- the ability of the citizens of this country to identify a threat and take action as individuals to elminate it. The ability that was demonstrated so dramatically --- and successfully --- by the passengers on Flight 93, the only hijacked plane where the terrorists failed in their mission to crash into a valuable target.

As I wrote one year after the 9/11 attacks, I don't believe that America began responding effectively to Al Qaeda when we invaded Afghanistan. I believe we began responding effectively the moment that the passengers of Flight 93, fed information via cellphone calls from the ground, recognized what the terrorists on their flight planned to do --- and acted to stop it.

After all the hearings that the commission has had on the failures of our government to prevent 9/11, or even to respond effectively while it was happening, shouldn't there be at least one hearing to discuss what went right on that day? Where is the session devoted to studying the actions of the passengers of Flight 93, and their success at foiling the terrorists they confronted? Is there nothing at all to be learned from their actions, and their sacrifice -- or is the comissison just more interested in finding fault than in actually recognizing success?

No ninjas at all.

UPDATE: The following post reached the list today:

As much as we may all say we love to hate the millitary we must still be
very proud of them. I am proud to live freely as a canadian and am proud of
the peacekeeping work my country's forces do to try and spred that freedom
to other nations. So with out any any hesitation I salute all of north
america's men and women who have, are now, and will give to keep our great
nations free and proud.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to read that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
15:16 - There goes another career
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Utilities/printer_preview.asp?idArticle=3959&R=9DDC31D

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It's rare enough that a prominent actor or entertainer stands up in favor of Bush and/or the war that such an occasion is linkworthy in and of itself. It's just a bonus, then, when-- as in the cases of John Rhys-Davies, and now, Larry Miller-- they say extremely valuable and insightful things that we just don't hear from other quarters, including political spokespeople.

But when I saw that banner saying "Mission Accomplished," I thought, no, no, it isn't accomplished at all, it's barely begun, and if we're going to do this thing, accept this challenge, fully absorb the import of this moment, it's going to wind up making the Hundred Years War look like a performance of Nicholas Nickleby.

And please don't hand me that "Well, he just meant the major operations, and the rest of the message was more nuanced, and if you read the text . . ."

Baloney. I support the president in all of this, but what he should have done then, in my opinion, is what he can still do now. What I've been waiting for. What the whole country needs, for, against, and in between.

A speech. A big one. A grave one. Say that the world is a very bad place and has been for a long time, and that we're going to stop it in its tracks and make it better because we have to, and because, as Tony Blair said when he spoke to Congress, "It's your destiny."

Stand next to a map of Iraq, and another one of the world, and point out what's good and what's bad, what's been done and what's left. Say, "You may disagree, but here's where we are, and here's where we're going."

Yup. Be a communicator, dammit. We're losing whatever momentum we had, because you're not telling the American people what's next. We all know-- or rather, knew, on 9/12-- that this wouldn't end with Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan was the immediate boiling concern, Iraq was the big wild card. Okay, now those are both known quantities rather than big question marks. But what's next? Secrecy was important when we didn't have our foot in the door; but now we do, and we the people need to be told of the real scope of the war, the real direction this all is going, before we all lose interest and faith that it's being handled in the way we'd all do if we were sitting in the big chair in the Oval Office or reading a storybook with schoolkids the day the planes crashed into the towers.

More, though:

Message to the administration: No one in Europe or on the left is ever, ever, ever going to like you from seeing a photograph of a marine handing a bag of groceries to a woman in a burkha. Jacques Chirac is never going to say, "Well, they have built a lot of community centers. Maybe Bush was right."

Win. Stopping building schools. Win. There's plenty of time and need for hospitals, but first . . . Win. Yes, yes, Iraqi girls can be very empowered by seeing a female colonel running an outreach program, and we can all chip in for the posters that say "Take Your Daughters To Mosque Day," but in the meantime, would you please win.

If I have to listen to one more administration spokesperson say, "The overwhelming number of Iraqis is with us, it's just a small percentage of cranks causing all the trouble," I'll be tempted to say something I swore I never would: "Du-uuh."

A small percentage, huh? About the same size as the few thousand Bolsheviks who took over the 100 million Russians in 1917? More? Less?

In service of this goal, I would like to propose a new slogan. It's based on the old anti-war chant from the sixties, "Peace Now!" You must've heard that one. Demonstrators have been shouting it for the last 40 years. "Peace Now, Peace Now, Peace Now." Hell, I think I probably shouted it, myself, somewhere around '73. (This would have been shortly before the drinking age in Massachusetts went down to 18, after which my friends and I took to shouting far more sensible things, like, "You can't cut us off, it's only 11:00. Hey, let go of me.")

Here's the new slogan: Win now.

Yeah. Don't worry about being liked; we're already despised. It may be more out in the open now, but it's the same ol' same ol'. Trying to build an "international consensus" for radically reengineering the Islamic world would be like arguing at the retirement home for reduced Medicare benefits; it's just not gonna happen. Time is of the essence here; we don't have it to spare for futile gestures.

But it's that insight about the Bolsheviks that really got me about this piece, incidentally.

Leave it to a comedian to remind us, in the age where the word "minority" has taken on an almost reverential tone no matter who or what it refers to, of the catastrophes that have been perpetrated throughout history by tiny minorities of people.

Democracy is, once again, every bit as much about preventing the tyranny of the minority as it is about preventing the tyranny of the majority; the American system presumes the latter risk, the risk of the pure democracy, and engineers checks and balances to counter it with the former risk, in the architecture of a representative republic. To fall too far in one direction or the other is to invite catastrophe. On one side lies fascistic persecution of those different from the mainstream, and on the other side lies elitist authoritarianism. Tyranny of the minority.

We must not allow ourselves to romanticize the notion of the "minority" as a harmless and helpless offshoot of society, there just to provide the necessary spice of life. It's not always so innocuous. Just as we wouldn't want to romanticize a homogeneous, conformist cultural wasteland where minorities are hidden away in the walls, we can't fool ourselves into thinking that just because something is a "minority", it must be good.

It's from such thinking that dictatorships are born.

(Via LGF.)

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