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
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, June 6, 2004
21:17 - Expensive week

(top)
So this past week, short as it was, marked the doing-at-last of a piece of renovation that the house has demanded for more than a year.

Hint: It's what Stephen Green is also doing right now, though it certainly sounds as thought my HELOC (which I got as a standard part of my mortgage, through E*Trade Mortgage, a company that—judging by Green's horror story—I now realize is one that I can wholeheartedly recommend) has involved a whole lot less heartache.

The only kind I have is the kind that accompanies a near-depleted bank account. But ah well. It was worth it.

Here's why:



That's what the kitchen looked like upon move-in, one year ago. Who in Almighty Bob's name thought a light blue kitchen could possibly serve any purpose but to nauseate its occupants?

Right away we knew it needed to go, somehow, fast. So we took off all the doors and drawers and painted the cabinets green, and there it sat for a year. Sure, it was less than convenient, and not a little ugly. But the horror of the memory of the blue cabinets was enough to make it worth it.



But now those are just "before" pictures. Behold the finished (well, almost) product!



I swear, it's like being on a different planet, especially after a year of the green door-less cabinet skeleton.

Remaining work includes: repairing the jagged edge of the countertop tile above the dishwasher (we had to break the edge to get the machine into place, as it was just a mite too tall to squeeze in on top of the hardwood floor and under the tile lip); some final baseboard sanding and painting; and this:



When this is all done, it'll have a butcher-block countertop, a mirror (or mirror-tile) back face and sides, and a wine-glass rack attached between the hanging cabinets. True, it doesn't provide as much storage space as the pantry which used to inhabit this nook; but it'll hold lots of 2-liter bottles, and frankly we need the liquor-cabinet configuration a lot more than we need dry-goods storage space (especially if we manage to keep ourselves from accumulating crap we don't need).

It's a small kitchen, but that just means we get the fun of working in a space budget. And now it can hardly be said that this kitchen is an unpleasant place to be, eh?

Ow... my wallet hurts.


18:44 - Take it like a man

(top)
When I hear stories like the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, or the FBI's wrongly apprehending and interrogating Brandon Mayfield as a material witness in the Madrid bombing, at first I naturally have the same reaction that just about anybody in this country can be expected to have: Well, that just sucks. Someone's head should roll.

But there are those who, once that initial shock wears off, make a certain logical leap: that a country or a government that can make such mistakes is clearly no better than, say, Saddam's Baathists. After all, we commit the same atrocities! We spirit away innocent people into the night! What claim to we have to the moral high ground?

But that's not the reaction I have. Maybe it's because I have a certain naïve optimism, the kind of feeling that "the best is yet to come" for America, like Ronald Reagan believed and exuded all through his presidency. My reaction, though, to these pieces of unequivocal bad news is always one almost of gratitude. Because I know that the way we respond to these kinds of demoralizing developments is far more important and self-defining than the developments themselves, and each such incident is an opportunity for us to prove once again what kind of people we are.

In short, I would never presume to claim that America never makes mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody on Earth is, after all, only human. It isn't some sort of preternatural infallibility that defines Americans; I'd imagine that we don't make any more or any fewer mistakes of this type than anybody else on the planet. But every time we do, we stand to account for them.

Look at the Mayfield case, for example. We mistakenly picked him up because the FBI's fingerprint-matching system reported a false-positive match. But once we had him in custody, and once the truth came out that he wasn't our man—think about how easy it would have been to simply have had him "disappeared", as the Nazis or the Soviets or the Baathists would have done. Think how easy it is to make 200 pounds of human, guilty or innocent, disappear without a trace. Think how simple it would have been to fabricate evidence proving we were right to pick him up; after all, Mayfield was a Muslim convert who did have connections to the "Portland Seven" conspirators. Imagine how little effort the FBI would have had to put in if they'd decided to spare themselves the embarrassment of having to admit in public that they'd made a mistake. In front of a country that knows full well that there are terrorists hiding in plain sight within our borders, living duplicitous lives to camouflage their true intentions until whatever day they're called upon to lash out at the nation whose laws protect them like none other on Earth, such a maneuver—underhanded and despicable, but historically popular as it is—would have been terribly easy to perfom. No one would ever have been the wiser.

But that's not what we did. The FBI released Mayfield, apologized to him, and vowed to review its fingerprint-analysis systems. And when Mayfield mounted the podium to denounce the United States government for leading the kind of witch-hunt against innocent Muslims that so many people insist is in fact happening, the FBI merely kicked at its heels, head down, and said "We're sowwy."

Which is also what happened with Abu Ghraib. Military commanders from the culpable unit all the way up to the Commander-In-Chief went on public record and international TV with shame-faced apologies, submitting themselves to public scrutiny and military investigation. It would have been easy to denounce the now-ubiquitous human-pyramid photos as frauds or forgeries; it would have been child's play to cover up any culpability in our ranks. But instead, we've shown the Iraqi people what it looks like when authority figures take blame upon themselves rather than do whatever it takes to preserve an illusion of perfection, like they've been used to seeing for the past thirty years.

Everybody makes mistakes. Only some, however, own up to them.

What defines America is a fundamental trust in our fellow citizens, a trust that those whom we elect to positions of power won't take undue advantage of us. For the most part, the people we elect to those positions recognize that trust as the highest authority over them in our political system—and they'll take upon themselves whatever burden is necessary for any transgression to be made good. Not painted over or whited out: made good.

The fact that we do this, voluntarily, naturally makes America look more fallible to the rest of the world than those powers in our past and present whose primary goal is to perpetuate a sense of infallibility. That's only natural. But it's an error of judgment to assume that the number of abuses and mistakes that we hear about Americans making is comparable, in a vacuum, to the number of abuses and mistakes that other governments allow their peoples to find out about.

We know mistakes are inevitable. But when they happen, we know how to solve the problem: We stand up and accept the world's judgment. We take it like a man. We won't stand for being judged on unfair grounds, or for having all our people tarred by the actions of an isolated few; but to the extent that fairness and common sense allow, we view mistakes as opportunities for us to improve ourselves, not as nails in our own coffins. We believe that the best policy is to allow the light of day to shine on the truth, because we feel we'll be vindicated once all is known. We don't fear the truth. We have nothing to hide from history.

That's what Ronald Reagan believed, and that's why partisans Left and Right—except for the few who inhabit the deep dark fringes—remember him today with the same honor we accord to the D-Day soldiers. They fought toward the same ideal; and that's something that all Americans feel in their bones.

Reagan wouldn't have been pleased to hear the news out of Abu Ghraib or Portland. But he'd have accepted no other actions in their wakes than the steps we've taken: showing that a government that holds itself publicly accountable for the mistakes it makes is not imperiled, but in fact makes itself and the people it governs ever stronger.

Saturday, June 5, 2004
16:58 - "Microsoft doesn’t evoke passion in me anymore"
http://www.seattleweekly.com/features/0422/040602_news_microsoft.php

(top)
JMH sends this long and fascinating column by Jeff Reifman, former Microsoft project manager and MSNBC co-founder, who has come to the conclusion that Microsoft has been quite deftly outmaneuvered by Apple, Linux, and Google, and more so because Microsoft is unwilling or unable to see the ramifications of the choices ahead of it than because it's incapable of acting toward a clear goal. All the other guys have to do these days, he says, is to sidle in and calmly eat Microsoft's lunch.

Why are Microsoft products so endlessly frustrating to use? Even techno-geeks like me get annoyed by Windows. I’m tired of spending the first 10 minutes of my day rebooting just so I can get to work. Microsoft Outlook 2003, the latest version of the company’s e-mail and calendar software, hangs for me about once a day, requiring me to restart my PC. I also have a problem with Word 2003: Whenever I bullet a line of text, every line in the document gets a bullet. Asking Windows to shut down is more of a request than a command—it might, it might not. And recently, Internet Explorer stopped opening for me.

I know I’m not alone. If you’re like me, you’ve invested in technology to become more efficient and productive but mutter about the many frustrations of the digital lifestyle. Technology is my hobby as well as my job, so I regularly ponder why software giant Microsoft Corp., which has more than $56 billion in cash, hasn’t solved more of these problems.

I began using Microsoft products 23 years ago, at age 11, and I worked for Microsoft from 1991 to 1999 as a technology manager. For many years, I was a Microsoft loyalist. While aware of Microsoft’s shortcomings, I always believed that the Soft did its best to improve products over time, as it did with Windows XP. But recently, I’ve had a crisis of faith. Perhaps I’ve rebooted Windows one too many times.

Over the past year, my frustration with Windows grew, as did my envy of Apple’s cool new products. Finally, last month I went out and bought an Apple Macintosh G5 and began using the new Mac operating system, OS X. It had been years since I’d used a Macintosh. Until recently, I dismissed those who did as impractical, elitist hipsters, and I mocked the Mac “switch” ads on TV.

But in the first five minutes on my new Mac, I was surfing the Internet, sending e-mail, and ripping a CD. OS X has been a breath of badly needed fresh air after Windows.

This made me wonder about Microsoft’s willingness to innovate and compete. Why are Microsoft products still so difficult to use and so unreliable? Why is the company improving them so slowly? Is Microsoft losing its competitive edge? Has the company seen its best days?

It's long, and it's good reading. He gets a few technical details wrong, such as describing Linux as "Unix-based", though that might be more because this is a Seattle Weekly article aimed at non-tech-heads as much as at his former Redmond co-workers. But it's hard to argue with his conclusions, such as how the slip of Longhorn to 2006—while .Mac, Linux thin-terminals, and Gmail bulge into Microsoft's undefended, formerly sovereign territory—could spell the beginning of the end for Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Microsoft doesn’t evoke passion in me anymore. Its products don’t excite me anymore. I remember eagerly looking forward to Outlook 2003, only to be disappointed by how complex, buggy, and unimproved it was. “There’s kind of an angst,” says Andrews, the Seattle Times columnist and author. “Microsoft ought to matter to us. There ought to be more of an intellectual and emotional connection. There just isn’t.”

In an age when retailers hire consultants to analyze what hip kids do, you’d think Microsoft would care more about what the hip kids are doing. They’re running around with iPods, using Linux and OS X. A Groundspring intern e-mailed me recently about his new Apple PowerBook: “I think I may be smitten by a computer.” That’s the kind of passion I’m talking about. In its search for market share, dominance, and profits, Microsoft lost the ultimate battle for our hearts and minds. For now, though, it’s still laughing all the way to the bank.

Without customer passion, there's only so long that can last.


16:28 - The human race must be destroyed!
http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0403/feingold.php

(top)
Everybody's linking to this, with progressively larger and larger excerpts wherever I find it. So, hey, me too:

No U.S. president, I expect, will ever appoint a Secretary of the Imagination. But if such a cabinet post ever were created, and Richard Foreman weren’t immediately appointed to it, you’d know that the Republicans were in power. Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don’t give a hoot about human beings, either can’t or won’t. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.

That's from the opening paragraph of a theater review in The Village Voice.

Where it'll be read by people who, even if they don't particularly agree with the writer's sentiments, will smirk and chuckle and nod rather than write outraged letters to the editor.

At what point can we conclude that whatever mental illness has gripped the far Left over the past few years has finally metastasized into the fertile fields of the mainstream?

Ye gods. Unbelievable.

Thursday, June 3, 2004
22:39 - The Roland Emmerich Congress
http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/02/congress.continuity.ap/index.html

(top)
So it seems the Doomsday Contingency has been voted down.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Determined to remain elected representatives, House lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed governors to name replacements if half the 435-member chamber died in a terrorist attack or other disaster.

Opponents said the House should never abandon direct election. Lawmakers supporting the amendment said that without the succession plan, the House would expose itself to a lengthy period of powerlessness should hundreds of members die at the same time.

"We feel very, very passionately about the need to ensure that no one ever serves in the 'people's house' without having first being elected," said Republican Rep. David Dreier of California, chairman of the House Rules Committee and critic of the amendment.

Rep. Brian Baird wrote the amendment to keep the House functioning with appointees until special elections could be held to restore depleted numbers. `Elections are sacred, but so too is representation," said Baird, D-Washington

His proposal was defeated 353-63, well short of the two-thirds needed to approve a constitutional amendment.

To me, there are genuine points on both sides, as tends to be the case in arguments over rather extraordinary circumstances. Yes, it's very important to hold to the principles of our governmental structure—Constitutional amendments have been ratified purely to tidy up trivialities in things like the succession of power during election season. But then again, it can hardly be denied that if a 747 were to plow through the House of Representatives, it would be no time to fret over whether the ten legislators left alive constituted a quorum for a vote on a war resolution, or whether they should be allowed to appoint some replacements to fill a few crushed and flaming seats.

The cynical or unhinged might say that the very proposal of the amendment is just so much more proof of a widespread shadowy conspiracy to stage terrorist attacks to freak the American people into voting dictatorial powers to the government. But perhaps the fact that it's been voted down now, and by a pretty bloody wide margin, might be construed as evidence that such a conspiracy has just been dealt a pretty serious blow—or maybe doesn't exist at all.

Like I said, there are real arguments both for and against the proposal. That it's been defeated doesn't horribly worry me, nor does it particularly relieve me. It does, however, further affirm to me that our government is capable of displaying remarkable restraint and integrity. Faced with an opportunity to quite justifiably vote themselves more (undemocratic) power, our Representatives overwhelmingly turned it down.

There's got to be some reassurance in that.


17:54 - Toshiba Pulls an ATI
http://www.thinksecret.com/news/toshiba.html

(top)
They're calling it "The Toshiba Blunder":

A story by IDG News Service reports that the deputy manager of Toshiba's Digital Media Network hard disk drive division technical department confirmed at a computer convention in Taiwan that the company plans to launch a 60GB version of its 1.8-inch drive in the coming months and that Apple has committed to buying the drive for use in one of its own products.

Deputy Manager Cindy Lee is reported to have said the drive will be in mass production in July or August. Although the story doesn't quote Lee directly, it leaves few details to the imagination that a new drive is coming soon and Apple will be using it in future iPods; Apple doesn't use Toshiba's miniature drives in anything but iPods.

Sources inside Apple confirmed late Wednesday that company executives are wondering, "what the hell happened? This is a major !@#$&* up and you don't have to be a genius to figure out what is coming next from Apple," said one source close to the iPod maker. "Apple is trying to get answers from Toshiba, but it appears they are just as in the dark as to what happened. Apple is not happy."

I'm sure we all remember what happened when ATI pulled a stunt like this; RADEON cards were yanked from Macs for months. We were all quite impressed with Steve when, at the flat-panel iMac's January 2002 introduction, he didn't sic his hounds on Time Canada for breaking the story a day early. But then, Time isn't exactly a strategic partner with Apple.

Ah well. 60-gig iPods? As the rest of the market insistently pursues the notion that "cheaper is better", Apple continues to leap for capacity as the primary driver. Market share seems to be bearing out their gamble. And it's not like news of an upcoming 60-gigger is likely to have too big an impact on people who buy iPods to match the size of their current music collections (the smaller-sized iPods are still selling briskly, including the 4-gig mini). But the fact that Apple's essentially driving the whole bleeding edge of the small hard drive industry through the iPod definitely means they see value in increasing iPod capacity without bound.

60 gigs is an awful lot of music, though. You don't suppose Steve plans to put other kinds of stuff on this fall's iPod range, do you?


17:46 - Where credit is due
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/06/20040601-2.html

(top)
From the transcript of the Q&A session following Bush's speech on Tuesday:

Q Given the perception --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm converting this into a full-blown press conference; it's such a beautiful day. (Laughter.) Do I get credit for it? (Laughter.)

Q Absolutely.

I doubt the questioner meant it, though.

It's a shame, because it's a good glimpse into how the Moron of the Century operates extemporaneously under fire.


17:22 - L'expatrié

(top)
Follow-on to the French co-worker thing:

Today was the all-hands meeting where he introduced himself to the company. We all are supposed to sing at our introductions; he demurred and opted for an original poem instead, which read, in part:

Why, what's that stench?
Can it be one of those French?

Yes, yes, I was born in France;
But please, give me a chance.

. . .

The following things French can never be:
Fries, toast, and Mr. John Kerry.

Snicker. Hey, welcome aboard.


11:19 - Nothing to write about, he says
http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0604/060304.html

(top)
And somehow, that's how you always know something good's coming.

Who, in 2004, can look at world where some madmen want to shove a crescent down our throats and decide that the most important thing they’re going to do is take the crosses off the city seal?

The crosses represent California’s history - but of course that’s no defense. History, alas, is full of inconvenient details. History can offend. The mere recognition of a historical truth can offend. Apparently that’s the worst thing you can do nowadays: offend. But it has to be a particular kind of offense. Lenny Bruce was celebrated for offending the right people, and this enshrined the act of offending as some sort of brave stance against The Man, The Grey-Flannel Suited Establishment, the whole Ike-Nixon Axis of Medieval, the straights. Gotta offend the straights or you’re not doing your job. The only function the bourgeouise have is to sit there with their mouths open, Shocked. If they’re having a good time, someone’s not doing his job.

Only the subversive kind of offensiveness is acceptable.

That sentence would make no sense whatsoever to Jefferson.


11:07 - Let high schoolers and undergraduates educate you

(top)
I'm endlessly glad that the college I went to was as apolitical as it was.

Just think if I'd sent my application essays elsewhere:

"If anybody has a mortarboard, you can move your tassels from right to left, right to left, which is what I hope happened to your politics in the last four years." George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg,  at a graduation ceremony

And don't forget to take the Peace Test, evidently aimed at college students, which examines your opinions as to whether military action or killing are ever justified, and then renders a judgment upon you as to how susceptible you are to being "'programmed' for moral disengagement in support of military action" or "easily persuaded to support war without giving it much thought". It then provides you with re-education resources to "boost your moral engagement" and "strengthen your resistance".

As Raoul Ortega says in the LGF comments:

At what point will the Looney Left figure out that insulting people, even when disguised as the "social cognitive theory of moral disengagement," is not a good way to pursuade people to support their views?

And Hhar:

Great. It says I need to hang out with highschool students and undergraduates in order to elevate my conciousness about war and killing things. I'm just so manipulable.

Morons. When I was a highschool student my conciousness was elevated to their liking. Then I did something that adolescents all around the world are supposed to do. I grew the *&%^ up.

"The truth shall make you free" is the motto of my alma mater. Elsewhere, it seems, college is a mental prison from which only a few truly escape.


09:48 - Well, I like him
http://www.sgthook.com/blog/oldblog/000603.php

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There are those who say, "Well, you may not like Bush personally, but you shouldn't vote for the guy you like better—rather, for who you think would do the better job, and voting for Bush on that basis shouldn't be construed as voting for the man's personality." And that's fine; that's valid. That's the basis on which I'll be voting.

But you know... I have yet to see a reason to dislike Bush on a personal level. I mean, isn't the stereotype of the Republican one of a haughty, plutocratic, top-hat-and-cane-bearing, spittle-flinging Bible-waver who won't let his daughter date a brotha from the wrong side of the tracks, let alone mingle with the commoners who can't afford to get into his country club, or the myrmidons he orders heartlessly into battle?


Character does matter, as Sgt. Hook concludes. And I think this guy's character is an area where he leads his opponent by such a margin that he's lapping him.

Just another anecdote to add to the list of stories of a guy who prioritizes things like comforting 9/11 victims' relatives, putting himself at risk of life and limb to visit soldiers on the front lines for Thanksgiving, undertaking a tailhook carrier landing to greet sailors whom he asks to take that risk on a daily basis, and—perhaps most importantly of all:



...Buying iPods for his daughters.

(Via Tim Blair and JMH.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2004
13:50 - Uh-oh, Hobbes! She's stumbled into the perimeter of wisdom!
http://www.ucomics.com/boondocks/2004/06/02/

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Is realization dawning?



I doubt it.


11:39 - The genie's out—and he doesn't call De Beers "Master"
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.09/diamond.html

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This Wired article is a little old—from last September—but its significance may be rapidly increasing due to the realities of the tech industry. And in any case, it's a fascinating read.

"This is very rare stone," he says, almost to himself, in thickly accented English. "Yellow diamonds of this color are very hard to find. It is probably worth 10, maybe 15 thousand dollars."

"I have two more exactly like it in my pocket," I tell him.

He puts the diamond down and looks at me seriously for the first time. I place the other two stones on the table. They are all the same color and size. To find three nearly identical yellow diamonds is like flipping a coin 10,000 times and never seeing tails.

"These are cubic zirconium?" Weingarten says without much hope.

"No, they're real," I tell him. "But they were made by a machine in Florida for less than a hundred dollars."

Weingarten shifts uncomfortably in his chair and stares at the glittering gems on his dining room table. "Unless they can be detected," he says, "these stones will bankrupt the industry."

Even more interesting, though, especially in light of what seems to be the rapidly declining future of the silicon microchip industry (now that processes are getting so small that subatomic quantum forces are coming significantly into play), is what part these cultured diamonds might play in buoying Moore's Law.

And De Beers won't have a thing to say about it.


10:43 - Nails in the coffin
http://www.yourish.com/archives/2004/may30-june5_2004.html#2004053102

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In case I ever feel a twinge of sympathy for or desire to re-acknowledge the credibility of the UN, all I have to do is read the news.

Israeli Channel Ten television broadcast video footage this week showing armed Palestinians using UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Work Agency) ambulances to flee Israeli forces operating in the Gaza Strip.

The television report, filmed in Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood on May 11, on the same night the first IDF armored personnel carrier was destroyed, killing six Israeli soldiers, clearly showed armed Palestinians boarding a UN-marked ambulance with a UN flag, and fleeing the scene.

The Channel Ten reporter stressed that this was not a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance, known to have transported armed Palestinians in the past, but rather a supposedly neutral ambulance of the UN.

Not that Red Crescent ambulances transporting terrorists ought to be looked at with any less horror. But remember that this comes after UNRWA commissioner Peter Hansen demanded that Israel apologize for the "damaging and baseless allegations" that this is what internationally-protected UN ambulance drivers do under the fluttering blue laurels.

They're on the other side. Get them the hell out of Manhattan.


10:32 - Unrepentant liars
http://www.andrewsullivan.com/index.php?dish_inc=archives/2004_05_30_dish_archive.ht

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Andrew Sullivan has a must-read synopsis of Howell Raines' Guardian column, in which not only does the former New York Times editor's mask of "impartiality" slip, it may as well never have existed (if it did at all).

As matters now stand, Kerry has assured the DLC, "I am not a redistributionist Democrat." That's actually a good start. Using that promise as disinformation, he must now figure out a creative way to become a redistributionist Democrat.

So the aim is to deceive voters about what you want to do. This might be amusing coming from a Dick Morris or a Karl Rove. But didn't Raines spend a year and a half lacerating the Bush administration for, er, lying? And now he thinks it's an essential tool for governance? Not all Bush-haters are as dumb or as crude as Raines. But it's useful to see how decadent the left-liberal mind can be in one of its more prominent exemplars. The American people are stupid, craven greed-hounds; lying is good if you can get away with it; American capitalism is a rotten, hollow promise; and even the Democrats refuse to take the advice of the few enlightened people who can help them, like Howell Raines. Well, that makes one thing to be grateful about.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004
20:39 - The life of a frog—that's the life for me
http://www.lanuevacuba.com/nuevacuba/jchao-17eng.htm

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Also via JMH—Jesús J. Chao, writing for La Nueva Cuba (a primarily hispanohablante site for the exiled Cuban interest, and therefore apparently translated less-than-perfectly from Spanish), dissects the French with at least one searing zinger per paragraph.

There was an historical moment in which the character and moral fiber of the French people was defined. After the defeat of the Germans and their retreat from France the American and British had the courtesy to allow General De Gaulle along with his meager troops to enter Paris at the head the triumphal Victory parade.

Nevertheless, very soon afterwards De Gaulle decided to extricate France from the military Pact of the North Atlantic Pact between Western Europe and the United States that secured the peace and freedom in that part of Europe, saving them from falling under the Soviet boot as it happened to the East Europeans countries.

De Gaulle, in a bout typical of French arrogance, or perhaps to appease the Soviet Union and the very powerful French communists in control of much the bureaucracy, demanded the immediate shut down of the American bases in France and the return of the troops to United States.

Eisenhower, with great dignity, responded: " General, it is going to take some time to exhume all our dead soldiers from the soil of France."

We should have got started then. I guess it's not too late, either.

¿What is your opinion on France's scientific research crisis?

H.R.H. Caroline responded: "It is deplorable. There is veritable scarcity. We are witnessing an intelligence flight. That is impoverishing the scientific and intellectual life. Sometimes it is necessary for a scientist to wait three months in order to have access to a microscope in a research laboratory. Those instruments frequently cost near 450,000 euros; so, there is only one per university, or one for almost 1,000 researchers, who are forced to wait in order to proceed with their experiments."

This is the legacy of socialism. This is the famous European socialized medicine. This is France, a country that allowed their old citizens to die without family or government assistance during a heat wave last summer. It was vacation time and the old folks were left behind in their city apartments under searing heat, and their children, doctors and nurses went on vacation to enjoy and relax.

That sacred time could not be interrupted, not even to save the lives of their own parents or to claim the corpses of those who died and were placed in funeral homes and food storage buildings waiting for weeks to be claimed and buried.

A French couple might spend 200 euros for a dinner in a not very luxurious restaurant; but they will not spend 300 euros in an air conditioning unit for making their parents' life more comfortable.

I spend Tuesdays lately eating lunch with a group of co-workers, one of whom is from France. I can't yet divine much of his opinions one way or the other; but when he regales the rest of us with tales of the glorious 35-hour workweek, the month of August that apparently all of Europe takes off, the automatic 28 days per year of nationally-mandated vacation time for all French workers, and the myriad three-day weekends that fall at least twice per month (the first thing he said today, grinning, was "So when is our next three-day weekend?" To which I could only answer, "Hell if I know"), there are those who give him an all too appreciative audience. "Geez, we've got a long way to go in this country!" one co-worker fawningly told him. "That sounds like such a great place to live."

In the interest of not turning a pleasant lunch hour sour, I didn't say, "Sure, as long as you're not an old person, or a traveller in De Gaulle Airport."

I know it can't be nuance that's restraining my tongue. Surely not. I'm sure I'm the simplistic one, after all. And the guy simpering over the joys of a nation that considers leisure and sleep more noble than that vulgar, "Anglo-Saxon" concept of working hard for an honest living—I'm sure he's the one who's got it all figured out.


11:52 - It only gets better

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Some months ago, I noted an online Flash game involving a Yeti, penguins, a big wooden club, and range markers. It was extremely well animated and sickeningly addictive.

But that was just the beginning. According to Mark O., it was "a bit of a pump-primer for a new gaming company that turned up at E3 this year".

Here is their site: Yeti Sports. Four awesome Flash games that you'll wish you'd never started playing, because you won't be able to stop.

Of course, the same cannot quite be said of The Anti-Bush Online Adventure (thanks to James A. for throwing himself on this grenade). It's a "fun and fact-filled adventure about the most appalling Presidency in the history of the United States". In which Bush is aided by Voltron in order to rape the Statue of Liberty, and the corporate pigdogs feeding at Bush's trough are referred to as "lobbiests".

I love getting my education through computers!

UPDATE: Then again, there's always this (thanks to JMH for reminding me). You know, maybe there is something to this whole "impressionable youth" thing—if it comes down to "making patriotism hip through video games", well, I guess that's what worked for recycling and saving the whales and hating big corporations...


11:04 - Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States
http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/5/31/225546.shtml

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Good Lord, Kerry needs some handlers. Or to be frozen in carbonite until election day.

Ted Sampley, a former Green Beret who served two full tours in Vietnam, spotted Kerry and his Secret Service detail at about 9:00 a.m. Monday morning at the Wall. Sampley walked up to Kerry, extended his hand and said, "Senator, I am Ted Sampley, the head of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, and I am here to escort you away from the Wall because you do not belong here."

At that point a Secret Service officer told Sampley to back away from Kerry. Sampley moved about 6 feet away and opened his jacket to reveal a HANOI JOHN T-shirt.

Kerry then began talking to a group of schoolchildren. Sampley then showed the T-shirt to the children and said, "Kerry does not belong at the Wall because he betrayed the brave soldiers who fought in Vietnam."

Just then Kerry - in front of the school children, other visitors and Secret Service agents - brazenly 'flashed the bird' at Sampley and then yelled out to everyone, "Sampley is a felon!"

On Memorial Day, no less.

I want my tax dollars to stop paying for this asshole's Secret Service detail. Right now.


10:54 - Rosy Palme D'or
http://www.cnsnews.com//ViewPolitics.asp?Page=\Politics\archive\200406\POL20040601a.

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Via Den Beste:

As Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, two senators may need to revise one of their harshest critiques about the Bush administration's actions in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, especially now that Bush critic Richard Clarke has contradicted one of his own key statements.

It turns out that President Bush and other top members of his administration had nothing to do with the decision to let members of Osama bin Laden's family depart the United States in the days immediately after 9/11, despite the suggestions of Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer of California and Charles Schumer of New York.

Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism official and author of a recent book blasting the Bush administration's handling of intelligence leading up to the terrorist attacks, told The Hill newspaper last week that he gave the go-ahead for two members of the bin Laden family and other Saudi nationals to leave the U.S.

"It didn't get any higher than me," Clarke told The Hill. "I take responsibility for it. I don't think it was a mistake, and I'd do it again."

Since this was the whole premise for Fahrenheit 9/11, I wonder if Michael Moore will issue a sequel with a retraction.

Or if Cannes has any mechanism for revocation of awards.

Or if anyone involved gives the tiniest crap.

Monday, May 31, 2004
00:38 - It's a conspiracy 'cause I say it's a conspiracy
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11225_Fighting_Music_of_World_War_II

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Charles Johnson says:

Has anyone noticed that, in the three years since the US homeland suffered its worst attack in history, Hollywood has not produced one single film that advocates the American side in the War On Islamic Fascism?

Yes, in fact I had noticed that.

I'd noticed that this summer's huge blockbusters, the first summer crop conceived and shot in the post-9/11 world, include (so far) a Trojan War epic by a director who sees it as analogous to the disastrous Iraq war, an incoherent global-warming diatribe, and (once it hits screens) a "documentary" beloved by the French that all but accuses Bush of piloting the 9/11 planes himself. I'd noticed that there hasn't been an Arab, Muslim, or Muslim country portrayed in any kind of negative light (let alone in connection with terrorism) since True Lies.

But forget about that. Forget. Forget.

America is locked in a vortex of all-encompassing jingoism that pervades our entire pop culture and political discourse, stifling all dissent from the approved party line of racist, McCarthyist state-approved terrorism both at home and abroad.

Forget. Forget.

Now doesn't it feel better without all those nasty facts in the way?

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© Brian Tiemann