g r o t t o 1 1

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

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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



Cars without compromise.





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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
 12/8/2003 - 12/14/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
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  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
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 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, May 8, 2004
22:39 - House Fast Flyby

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For Mother's Day, we decided to fly up to Redwood Valley, where my folks live, land at Ukiah to visit for a bit on the taxiway, and then give them fifteen minutes so they could drive home before we took off and did a couple of flybys of their house.



Damn, this stuff is fun.

UPDATE: What's even more fun is being in the middle of a news story when it happens. As we were passing San Francisco International Airport at about 4500 feet on our way up the peninsula, we happened to be being handled on the same Nor-Cal Approach control frequency that was also handling a minor emergency concerning a Northwest DC-10 jet that had taken off from SFO only minutes before. The pilot of the jet was reporting that he was circling over the ocean off the coast, dumping fuel; he was requesting a special landing clearance on runway 28R, the longest runway at SFO.

Turns out, the jet had blown two tires during takeoff. The runway he had used—28R—was closed at that moment as cleanup crews cleared away the debris from the blown tires, and the runway was still closed as the approach center cleared him into a pattern for a long, soft-field-style approach (using a loooong runway and floating down onto it ever so gently, to protect the remaining tires, after dumping fuel to reduce weight, and knuckling over onto the good landing gear as it comes to a stop) to that runway. He came barrelling in over the peninsula just as we, in our little Cessna, buzzed past; the tower had us descend a thousand feet and shuffle on out of the way while they took care of the near-emergency.

Finally, runway 28R was reopened, just as the jet turned to the base leg of the pattern; by that time, he had switched to the SFO tower frequency, and the airport was far enough behind us that we couldn't watch him land. But after we returned from our trip around Northern California and landed at Reid-Hillview, we turned on the radio and the first news item we heard was: "A Northwest Airlines jet out of SFO en route to Tokyo was forced to return to the airport after two of its tires blew out upon takeoff..."

How cool is that?


22:34 - Dismantling Abu Ghraib
http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/archives/2004_05_01_iraqthemodel_archive.html#10840

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JMH sends me this fascinating piece. Who knows how authentic it is, but at the very least it's a voice from the front lines.

There are those who say that Abu Ghraib should be dismantled. I doubt anybody who says so knows anything about Abu Ghraib except the name and the fact that the prisoner torture took place there; but if anyone is of a similar mind, it might be good to read this:

Yesterday a friend of mine, who’s also a doctor, visited us. After chatting about old memories, I asked him about his opinions on the current situations in Iraq. I’ve always known this friend to be apathetic when it comes to politics, even if it means what’s happening in Iraq. It was obvious that he hadn’t change and didn’t show any interest in going deep into this conversation. However when I asked him about his opinion on GWB response to the prisoners’ abuse issue, I was surprised to see him show anger and disgust as he said:

...No, it's not something that can be easily quoted. Just read it.

And then tell me Abu Ghraib needs to be razed.


21:30 - Who's calling whom simplistic?
http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/05/Campaignendorsements.shtml

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Steven Den Beste links this article that seems to capture the highest concentration of jaw-droppingly dumb European man-on-the-street pronouncements that I've yet seen. I've heard all these arguments before, but just not all in one place. Where do they find these people?

Or do they actually represent the way the European populace thinks? I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I like giving The People the benefit of the doubt. But it's becoming difficult.

Let's see here:

"The thing that Europeans cannot understand is how you can vote for a liar," said Peter Schneider, a German essayist and novelist. Great. Good. I sure hope most Europeans are better capable of understanding the generally accepted definition of lie than this guy is—and can distinguish deliberately misleading others by contradicting known facts from making statements based on available information which later turns out to be incorrect. By his standard, Rutherford lied when he said that electrons were studded throughout an atom like currants in a currant bun, and Copernicus lied when he said the Sun revolved around the Earth. Gotcha. Noted. I guess this is that "nuance" thing we keep hearing about.

"The idea that you have a leader of the U.S. who's not interested in listening to his allies is important in the way people perceive Bush." So Bush should have "listened to our allies" and obeyed their wishes that we not attack Iraq, overriding the popular opinion among Americans? What is he—President of the United States, or Governor-General of the American Protectorate of the Global European Hegemony? Listen: if 80% of the American public and their elected officials say we go to war, we go to war—and that's true whether a Bush or a Clinton or a Kerry is sitting behind the big desk. European opinion does not trump our own when it comes to the actions of our government.

Nor are Europeans thrilled about the American values they feel Bush has encouraged, in which anti-Europeanism is applauded as a virtue, people boycott French wine to protest France's position on Iraq, and Kerry is ridiculed by Republicans for being able to speak French. Okay, look: I don't know if Europeans have some kind of FrancoTV channel where they can watch re-enactments of Bush standing at a podium issuing proclamations such as "My fellow Americans: I order you to all stop buying French wine and cheese, and cancel your upcoming French vacations, because it is important for you to support your government's position against the French," but sooner or later they're going to have to come to the understanding that Bush is not responsible for Americans boycotting France. Americans are. It's us. We make these decisions. On our own. We elect the government; we issue the commands; we decide where to spend our money and who deserves it. Bush could go on prime-time TV and tell all the country that supporting the French economy is the duty of every red-blooded American citizen, and we would not change our minds. We'd probably change our president.

Maybe our error here is that in attempting to use economic influence on the popular level to retaliate against France, we're misinterpreting French diplomatic positions and governmental actions as the will of the French people. Maybe the French people don't deserve to be deprived of American tourists' dollars and trade monies, because they don't agree with their government. It would be just like us to make that kind of mistake, wouldn't it?

Unless, of course, they do agree with their government. In which case, <Snake>Bye!</Snake>

And if they're lashing out at Bush because they see him as an extension of the American People, but believe politicians are meaningless shills that can be safely attacked without betraying their real hatred—of the Americans who elected him—well, then they'd better not complain when we treat the French People as an extension of their government, to be treated with commensurate revulsion.

Perhaps the real battle lines here are between the American People and the European Rulers: between two entirely different and mutually incomprehensible systems. But then, it always has been thus, hasn't it?

Friday, May 7, 2004
20:47 - TimePod
http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/10/23/1816257&mode=thread&tid=107

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Look what Marcus found. It's the Slashdot article from October 23, 2001, when the iPod was announced.

Just look at those post titles:

• lame?
• So now everyone that laughed at the iWalk...
• whoopdeedoo
• cool but much too expensive
• oh no not again

That last one concludes, All I can say is, as an Apple "fan", I'm sad.

To read at least half the posts on there, the iPod was to be the harbinger of doom for Apple: yet another overpriced, underfeatured, boutique item that nobody would buy and that would become as much a respected piece of technology as the Newton.

And people also, predictably, warn of the dire consequences of the new player not supporting Ogg Vorbis.

History can be instructive.


17:18 - Longhorn on the Free Range
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1586601,00.asp

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Looks like Microsoft has released a new alpha of Longhorn, and PC Magazine is all over it with a visual tour.

Lots of "neat ideas," says the article, "loosely tied together with baling wire". Yeah, that's a pretty fair assessment. To keep in the "Old West" theme, I guess.

The trouble is, those "neat ideas" give one the impression of being the kind of ideas that defiant defenders of modern art insistently claim will "make you think". Like feces-smeared crucifixes and saggy Nerf World Trade Center sculptures.

Check out the tour; click and be amazed! Thrill to the Avalon Window Manager, which "offers Mac OS-like effects when launching and minimizing windows"! Chill to the groundbreaking "contact list", which is "not attached to any particular e-mail client"! Ooh and aah at the inch-thick vertical sidebar, taking up screen real estate with that huge analog clock that still hasn't gone away! Be amazed at "more view types than in Windows XP"—Lord knows we need more ways a folder full of files can be represented! And enjoy the new Giant Blue Back Button in iTunes-Like Indentation that appears on every single window, and the new Huge-Font Window Title With Wasted Space Technology™, so in Internet Explorer you've got three inches of menu bars to scan past before you get to the actual web content. Minimum resolution required: 1280x1024! Oh, and yes, they've got Apple's "brushed metal" look dutifully copied. Rounded top corners, gradient that gets brighter in the middle, and everything. Good for them.


"How do we one-up Safari? I know: Staple about six Safaris together!"


As Samuel Johnson is apocryphally attributed to have said, "Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good."

Keep on truckin', Microsoft!

UPDATE: CapLion has dubbed this interface "Mad Cow".


12:14 - We had a point! I swear, it was here somewhere!

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MoveOn.org in a mass e-mail:

In the wake of revelations of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners, John Kerry has launched an important petition calling for President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld. Getting rid of Secretary Rumsfeld would be a huge step forward for all of us who oppose the Bush war policy, and Kerry needs to hear our support.

"Getting rid of Secretary Rumsfeld would be a huge step forward for all of us who oppose the Bush war policy". Read that line again.

Now explain to me: How? How would firing Rumsfeld "be a huge step forward" for war opponents? Especially since Kerry is for the war (today, anyway)?

Is Rumsfeld seen as culpable for prisoner abuse? Considering that the Pentagon already took care of this problem when it was an issue back in January, months before CNN even "broke" the story, through sweeping demotions and dismissals? This would be like suing McAfee today for damage caused by the Michaelangelo virus.

Does MoveOn.org think that by firing Rumsfeld, we'll lend more "legitimacy" to the occupation? No, that surely isn't what "all of us who oppose the Bush war policy" are hoping for.

Or is this nothing more than the baldest of opportunistic slashes at their foe's unprotected belly—a chance to eradicate one of their ideological arch nemeses, just because he's peripherally connected to something bad that happened?

I love the implication inherent: that Bush needs to fire Rumsfeld, and, uh, hire someone new for the position of Secretary of Defense. Someone who doesn't condone prisoner abuse. Because, y'know, obviously Rumsfeld has no problem with that sort of thing! Bush can't have someone like that around!

It's telling that this MoveOn.org mail consists of nothing more than this brief paragraph and a Kerry statement that accuses the Pentagon of "being the last to know what is going on in the ranks". It then includes a timeline of events which, laughably, categorically deny the claims they're making. Rumsfeld was in the loop early on. The Pentagon took action. Only months later did CBS and CNN suddenly go insane over the story.

Don't we have a "double jeopardy" clause in the Constitution preventing people from being excoriated twice for the same crime? Especially if the second time only happens because people weren't paying attention the first time?

"Getting rid of Secretary Rumsfeld would be a huge step forward for all of us who have always wanted to get rid of Secretary Rumsfeld, no matter how or why!" Let's at least be honest here.

Criminy.

Thom T. sends the following comment:

Actually, I think these vermin are even worse than you
suggest, at least if the snipet you posted is
representative of the whole.

What is the implication from this statement? That the
scandal should be used to get rid of Rummy because it
would be a huge step forward, etc., AND NOT BECAUSE IT
WOULD BE THE RIGHT THING TO DO, GIVEN THE SEVERITY OF
RUMMY'S BREACH OF DUTY.

In other words, there is nothing to suggest that
Rumsfeld should be fired simply for his dereliction of
duty, but rather only because it would advance their
cause. Missing from this is any mention of concern
for the Iraqis injured (okay, maybe they don't deserve
it), or any view toward improving how our military
operates. Rather, to them the value in having
Rumsfeld removed is in advancing their own goals, so
what they're advocating is not action to rectify what
has occurred, but rather a cooption of it to in aid of
said advancement. And any attempt to actuaaly correct
the problem and see that it doesn't happen again be
damned.

More and more, the message I get from the Left is the
famous one attributed to Richard Nixon: "Screw the
doomed".

Yeah. The MoveOn.org message is actually quite different from the Kerry statement that it's built upon. Kerry says, "The Pentagon didn't move fast enough; we need to do something decisive to show resolve and good faith." MoveOn says, "It's Rummy! Let's get 'im!"


11:16 - The revolution proceeds apace

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Looks like the iTunes Music Store is starting to get swept up in the great self-powering forces for meme propagation that drive our age. J Greely says:

Now that they've managed to unstick my shopping cart, busted since
the 4.5 update, I went exploring in iTMS again and discovered something
that I shouldn't have been surprised by: Google is indexing links to
the store, correctly.

If, for instance, you search for "William Hung", at the end of the
first page you'll find links to his album on iTMS. This has some
very interesting implications for the future of online music sales.

Indeed, Ken.
Thursday, May 6, 2004
15:07 - Stupid forest!
http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2004/05/ForestsandTrees.shtml

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Steven Den Beste has a post up that is undoubtedly already resulting in a deluge of reader mail, picking away at it point by point and (seemingly) deliberately missing the general thrust of his argument, which is exactly what he's complaining about.

Now, I'll be the first to say that deliberately missing the point is right at the top of the list of Things That Piss Brian Off. I don't like it when people deliberately miss the point that social conservatives try to make about gay marriage; I don't like it when people formulate opinions on George W. Bush without ever bothering to check the relevant facts. That really irritates me, and every time someone does it it makes me feel as though people are less interested in seeking the truth and a fair solution than they are in vindicating their own preconceived position on whatever they happen to feel strongly about.

But that's beside the point. Den Beste's post grumbles about readers who endlessly pester him with pedantic details about his essays, stinging him like a million tiny mosquitoes, driving him underwater just for the blessed relief—until physical need forces him to come back up for air, and write again.

I won't reach every reader no matter how hard I try. I don't even expect to reach the majority. But if nearly all the mail I get about a specific post is pedantic, then it suggests that I didn't reach hardly anyone. If that goes on and on, post after post, it makes me feel as if I'm not succeeding overall in what I'm trying to do when I write for this site.

That's what gets me down. Perhaps it meant that the forests I've been describing weren't really very important, or weren't there are all. Perhaps I failed to write well enough about them to make them real for my readers, and all they could see was trees. If nearly all the comments I receive about some article are nitpicks, it means that article failed. If that goes on day after day, post after post, then I'm failing as a writer.

I'm not about to accuse Den Beste of doing what he's accusing his readers of doing. But I will suggest that he's overlooking a possibility: namely, that the people who write to him to point out details like Jefferson was in Paris at the time of the Philadelphia Convention or Hey, we know lots about how the brain works, thankyouverymuch are not in fact doing so because they see a point of piffling detail that they can use to pry open Den Beste's armor and disprove his argument. They're doing so because they understand his larger point, and agree with it... but they think it would be made still stronger if all the technical details in it were correct.

"Fact-checking your ass" isn't just a tactic of attack. It's also a means of bolstering an argument you think is sound, by helping to remove potential weaknesses.

I'd wager that a good number of the people sending nit-picks to Den Beste, particularly those who say, in effect, "Long time listener, first time caller," are actually doing so because they want to forward the URL of a given article around to all their friends. They'd just like to be sure that some little detail that they happen to know could be phrased better or made more factual is ironed out, so the recipients of the forwarded URL won't be distracted by a factual error (which might be more glaring to certain readers than to the writer) from the main point of the article.

A while back, I read this by Den Beste:

Though African Wild Dogs reproduce sexually, packs of dogs reproduce by fission. When a pack grows too large, some members will split off and found a new pack. They'll take with them the learned behavior patterns from their parent pack, so that knowledge passes from the original pack to both of its offspring.

And with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I posted this:

Just look what Den Beste said today:

...Dogs reproduce by fission.

He said it! He did! Right there in black and white! I agree with Philip Shropshire-- who could possibly take this man seriously?!

I can't claim I was even thinking this at the time, but what this pokes fun at—besides Maureen Dowd—is the same forest-for-the-trees problem that frustrates Den Beste himself. People whose sole purpose in life seems to be to sit on Sisyphus' rock, jeering, and pelting him with pebbles in an attempt to get him to give up.

But that's not what I think is going on. I know that when I e-mail a comment to a blogger regarding a post that I agree with, as often as not it's to correct a factual flaw in hopes of making the article stronger, as well as to simply congratulate the author. I'll usually start off the e-mail with a paragraph that says something to the effect of, Hey, great piece! I agree with it wholeheartedly, and I appreciate the insight it offers. However, there's something I noticed...

Sometimes I forget to add that preface, though. It doesn't mean my motive is different.

If I disagree completely with the author, I won't bother sending a message at all. If I disagree completely with the author, more to the point, I'll find lots more factual errors and logical missteps to point out—and picking just one would seem silly and futile. The only reason I ever send a message with a nitpicky factual correction is because I'm trying to strengthen the author's point—that I hope the author will correct the bit that I deem mistaken, so future readers (who aren't as well-disposed as I am toward the author in the first place) won't be put off if they notice the error too.

If nearly all the comments I received about a post were pedantic, it would suggest to me that it reached tons of people—but that each and every one of them, from their individual perspectives, saw ways in which the point could be made yet more ironclad so they could add it to their "essential libraries".

So I don't think this is a question of people deliberately missing the point, or blinding themselves to forests in favor of poking at tree-borne cellular fungi with tweezers; I don't think this is a problem of readers who simply can't stop themselves from ignoring pleas of [DWL!] because they believe they see an opening where they can drive an awl into Steven Den Beste's eye. I think it's more a matter of people who take for granted that Den Beste will understand that they agree with his point, or else they wouldn't be "regular readers". They're not articulating their concurrence with the same number of words that they use to articulate their nit-picking, because they figure it's better left said by Den Beste himself.

They're only trying to help. Many of them could be better at putting that into words; but, well, look at the standard they're up against.


13:15 - You ducks are really trying my patience!

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How's this for something I didn't think actually happened in real life?

I was on my way back from picking up a burrito at Chipotle (and getting some twenties at the local Wells Fargo, where I noted with some interest two twentysomething guys at the ATM next to me, poking at the keypad and talking animatedly to each other in a language I couldn't identify. They looked European and touristy, but I couldn't figure out of what variety). I'd just come through the intersection of De Anza and Stevens Creek, the largest crossroads in Cupertino, with four lanes in each direction and several turn lanes to boot, and lunch-hour traffic pouring through.

I was the second car through after the light changed, in the leftmost lane. Suddenly, just after we left the intersection, the car in front of me screeched to a halt. There were two guys standing in the raised and landscaped median and moving into my lane and the next, raising their arms to the oncoming traffic in the international signal for "Either I'm very inebriated, or there's a dead body in the road." My lane, and then the lane next to me, stopped and strained to see what was going on.

It was a mother duck, with four ducklings in tow, hurrying across eight lanes of midday traffic. Where did they come from? Where were they going? There wasn't a river, significant corporate landscaping, or any major water features anywhere nearby. But there they went, waddling across the asphalt, being shielded by these two motorists who had pulled to the side of the road to herd them across and fend off the cars.

I put on my hazard blinkers and sidled past as the ducks purposefully left my lane. By the time I'd reached the end of the block, they were all the way across.

Boy, do I wish those guys from the ATM had been there in traffic next to me. If nothing else, it might have provided them a little Stateside experience to take back home that didn't involve McDonald's, Wal-Mart, gun-toting rednecks, or pyramids of naked Iraqi prisoners.


13:04 - Another football test

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Compare this:

Bored with the political speechmaking in Harlem's Alhambra Ballroom, 6-year-old Iris Kerry Kaler reached out with both arms for her uncle, Sen. John Kerry, to pick her up.

The Massachusetts senator, however, ignored his niece's entreaty, offering Iris only an awkward pat on the stomach despite the array of television cameras poised to record the potentially precious moment. It was a missed opportunity to demonstrate his warmth by holding the little girl in his arms just days before last month's New York primary.

...With this.

"This girl lost her mom in the World Trade Center on 9-11."

Bush stopped and turned back.

"He changed from being the leader of the free world to being a father, a husband and a man," Faulkner said. "He looked right at her and said, 'How are you doing?' He reached out with his hand and pulled her into his chest."

If elections were decided on the basis of in-person, first-hand impressions, this one would be no contest.

Ted Rall will pen a cartoon mocking the young lady in five... four... three...


11:36 - Ugly bedfellows
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4908305/

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Okay, this is just all kinds of wrong.

Michael Moore is making headlines with his controversial documentary, but one group is targeting the filmmaker for his waistline.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has selected the gadfly filmmaker as one of its “Flab Five” and is treating him to a Veg Eye for the Fat Guy makeover. “Looks like the ‘Downsize This’ author has been doing too much supersizing,” notes PETA.

“We’ll be sending him a nice little care package, a makeover kit filled with health and diet tips, PETA’s vegetarian starter kit, and suggestions on how he might change his lifestyle,” PETA’s Michael McGraw tells The Scoop.

American Idol winner Ruben Studdard is also getting targeted by PETA. “If ‘The Velvet Teddy Bear’ doesn’t want to become known as ‘The Velveeta Teddy Bear,’ he might want to idle his meat and dairy intake,” notes the group.

Wow! PETA's getting nasty! Nasty as a blogger!

...Wait. Did I say getting?

It's the cage match of the century! One's an activist force with the mass of ten thousand men, and the other is PETA! Who will win? No one knows! Which one's powers of ritualized self-loathing and shrill, offensive terrorist-like tactics can vanquish those of the other? It's too close to call!

Can they settle their differences and unite against their mutual enemy—the common man? Or will their respective philosophical stubbornness and fanaticism destroy them both, each making casualties of the other's fans?

We can but hope and pray!

Wednesday, May 5, 2004
17:07 - I fooled you! I fooled you! I got pig iron!
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200455.asp

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(My dad ought to appreciate this one.)

I've just gotta say: If, as Jim Dunnigan suggests here, the Iranian mullocracy is on the brink of obtaining nuclear weapons, it would be an awful event that totally changes the landscape of the War on Terror if they were to succeed. Duh. That would suck.

But if Iran were to suddenly announce that it's got nuclear weapons... well, what would that mean for the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, and by extension the United Nations?

Would it imply that all the inspections, all the statements that Iran is "cooperating" with international bodies, all the assurances that Iran's nuclear program is purely peaceable, were just toilet-paper scrawls all along—and that the UN gullibly swallowed it all up? Would it mean that the UN is this absurdly easy to hoodwink and play like a cheap violin, on matters of the utmost global import—that they pathologically take liars at their word and believe the best of dictators? Would it mean the UN ought to be declared thenceforth unfit to serve in any international capacity for the purpose of preventing genocide or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, on grounds of demonstrated gross incompetence?

And given what else we know of the UN's credibility on these matters, would that be altogether a bad thing?

Why, it puts me in mind of a song:

Now this here's the story about the Rock Island Line
The Rock Island Line she runs down into New Orleans
And just outside of New Orleans is a big toll gate
And all the trains that go through the toll gate
They gotta pay the man some money
But of course, if you got certain things on board
You're okay and you don't have to pay the man nothin
And just now we see a train comin down the line
When you come up to the toll gate
The driver, he shout down to the man
I got pigs, I got horses, I got cows
I got sheep, I got all livestock, I got all livestock
I got aaall liiivestock
The man say, you alright boy just
Get on through, you don't have to pay me nothin
And then the train go through
And when he go through the tollgate
The train gotta have a little bit of steam
And a little bit of speed
And when the driver think he safely on the other side
He shouts back down the line to the man
I fooled you, I fooled you
I got pig iron, I got pig iron
I got aaaall pig iron,
Now I'll tell you where I'm goin boy

You know where.

UPDATE: Perhaps even more damning, though, would be if Iran developed nuclear weapons even with the UN breathing sternly down its neck. What would that say about just how effective the UN is at dealing with a threat that even it recognizes?


16:16 - Blame Kris

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I ain't taking credit for this one.

On this date in 1941 (May 5th) a not very well know clash of WWII took place. This event was overshadowed by the much bigger news a couple of weeks later of the sinking of the Bismarck.

After the Germans had captured France they used some of the French fleet for sea raiding of Allied freighters. The British created strike forces to go after these raiders. One French frigate in particular was particularly onerous to run down. The French had named it, for some strange reason, "Water of Mayonnaise", but, that's the French for you. I guess it sounds better in French - "Eau de Mayonnaise".

Finally, with the British, playing catchup, spotted the frigate and gave their battle cry:

"Sink Eau de Mayo!"

I'll be over here, convalescing.


15:16 - Cheap shot... but nice shot
http://www.tammybruce.com/

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Via JMH—Tammy Bruce has this juxtaposition of images up on her main page:



Ow! I felt that one from here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004
17:56 - Relentless (except for pulling out of Gaza, except when they're begged not to)
http://www.honestreporting.com/relentless/new_version/

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This looks to be quite interesting.

Check out the "Long Trailer", the 7-minute one. Requires WMP.

Interestingly, IMDB has a page for this movie, with a rating of 8.4 stars. But it's only out of 13 votes, and the top user comment is a whine about how one-sided and pro-Israeli it is. Yeah, well, maybe it's time someone made something to counter Jenin, Jenin.

And I wonder why clips from official Palestinian TV broadcasts of sermons advocating Jew-killing don't count as "interviews"?


11:24 - Can we take off our beards now?
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=10919_UN-_Genocide_and_Slavery_Compati

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I'm getting really sick of living in Bizarro World.

First it was Libya being elected—by a 33-to-3 nigh-unanimous vote—to chair the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Then it was North Korea, Syria, and Iraq (I forget which ones exactly) chairing the UN's commission on Nuclear Proliferation.

Now, by a unanimous vote, Sudan—with genocide being practiced daily within its borders under government auspices—has been elected to the Human Rights Commission.

As LGF reader TMF says:

Other recent Appointments at the UN:

1. Bill Clinton appointed to head the Commission on Marital Fidelity and Sexual Abstinence.

2. Mike Tyson appointed to head the Commission for the Eradication of Domestic Violence

3. John Gotti appointed to head the Commission for Ethical Business Practices

4. Michael Moore appointed to head the Commission for Truth and Accuracy in Journalism

5. You get the point

And here's the really excruciating part. As insane as this is, and as much of a parody of anything with a morally consistent grounding as the UN has become, Sudan gets to smirk at the US when we (alone) walk out on the vote, shouting out their newly captured moral-high-ground slogans to our retreating backs:

Sudan’s delegate immediately shot back that the U.S. delegation was “shedding crocodile tears” and turning a blind eye to atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers in Iraq against civilians as well as against prisoners.

I used to have the same kind of wistful belief in the UN that all good-hearted people did during the post-WWII era: the League of Nations, but this time it would work. World government that all would obey. Not soldiers, but "peacekeepers"—because peace would be the default condition, and they'd only have to "keep" it. An invention of transnational European minds, to be sure, but was that so bad in a world that was about to see the end of history?

But now look at what the UN has become.

They stand aside and watch with paternalistic indulgence as Tutsis are slaughtered in Rwanda and villagers are mowed down by gunfire in Srebrenica. They pour money into Arafat's Palestinian Authority while passing condemnation after condemnation of Israel's increasingly desperate attempts to defend itself through targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders like Yassin and Rantisi. They siphon off billions from Iraq's Oil-For-Food program, funding themselves and their lavish diplomatic lifestyles—and the pockets of their pet companies and family members—on vouchers for millions of barrels of oil handed to them like so many dot-com stock options by Saddam himself. They stonewall to prevent Saddam's removal, because who wants to lose a sugar daddy? And through it all we provide them with a huge building on prime Manhattan real estate, diplomatic immunity for their limos and three-hour downtown lunches, and a nation's beatific laudatory obeisance. For our trouble, now, we find that the UN is all too willing to dispense with any pretense of promoting democracy or human rights when it means they can snub the U.S. and gloat over our slightest isolated missteps—applauding Sudan with a unanimous election to the UN Human Rights Commission while our delegate walks out under derisive catcalls, mocking us for our antiquated and hypocritical notions of "democracy" and "justice" and "human decency".

Oh, and we also pay them 22% of their operating budget, or $232 million, every year. And when they ask us for more—bumping that amount up to $322 million—we happily comply.

On the way in to high school every morning, in Ukiah in the Northern California wine country, my school bus passed a giant billboard on a hillside above the freeway that said in huge letters: Get US out of the United Nations! It was a John Birch Society thing, apparently, and the slogan bemused me to the point where I wrote a research essay on it (as an example of a grass-roots organization with a bizarre and outlandish goal) for my History class.

Little did I ever imagine that that sentiment would one day come to make so damned much sense.

Monday, May 3, 2004
18:50 - Someone's having fun
http://movies.differentdistrict.com/play.php?id=1043_0_28_0_M44

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If this isn't a real Apple ad, it sure as hell should be.

Via Kris.


09:52 - Macs buy you Kerry
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aIzb2nc.YIIE

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Wuh-oh.

May 1 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire investor Warren Buffett and Apple Computer Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs are advising Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on economic issues.

I guess he wanted to hear from someone who left his company before he came back to it, who followed up the success of the iMac with the Flower Power iMac, and who has been continually going out of business since 1985.

Kerry, 60, the four-term Massachusetts senator challenging President George W. Bush, ``reached out to them and they're giving him economic advice about the deficit and job creation,'' said David Wade, Kerry's campaign spokesman.

``Political campaigns are always looking for celebrity endorsements and these are two eminent celebrities in the investment world,'' said James Lucier, a political analyst at Prudential Equity Group LLC. ``But I don't think investors are looking for celebrities, they are looking for policies.''

Hey, people won't invest in Apple. If they release bad quarterly numbers, their stock goes down; if they release good quarterly numbers, their stock goes down.

Gee, that's what I want out of the U.S. economy!

(Via Marcus.)

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© Brian Tiemann