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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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, June 13, 2004
21:51 - Quick Update

(top)
The flags lining the road through New Almaden are still flying.

Half-mast, where applicable.

(I saw them from motorcycle this time, by the way; lemme tell you, Hicks Road is a trip and a half. I'll need to fill up on high-altitude photos before long.)


12:16 - Hey, that's cheating!
http://techgoesboom.com/archives/2004/06/10/g5_and_1034_system_migration_feature.php

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One of the pieces of Mac OS X Panther In a Snap (link in the sidebar) that I was most pleased with was the step-by-step illustrated documentation of the process by which you can transfer your data from your old Mac to a new one you've just bought. It was probably the longest such procedure in the book (the whole volume is nothing but about 200 numbered and illustrated procedures for accomplishing various tasks), and certainly the least intuitive and most in need of documentation. It involved mounting computers via AppleShare, issuing recursive copy commands via the Terminal, changing ownership and permissions, creating and deleting user accounts, and re-registering with iSync to restore your contacts and other info from the .Mac server. It was big and ugly, but it did work. I was pretty proud of it.

And then... and then just look what Apple did!



Aarrrgh!

It kicks in automatically during the Setup Assistant process when you first take your machine out of the box; all you need is a FireWire cable, and your old Mac's data is transferred over in fifteen minutes to an hour, with no fuss and no muss.

Ah well—I suppose I shouldn't complain too much. OS X 10.3.4 (for the newest G5s only, as of today, but sure to be added to all new Macs soon) not having this feature is of benefit only to my fragile ego, and to Microsoft (whose Files and Settings Transfer Wizard actually predates this, but is nowhere near as smooth or complete). This is something Apple has needed, and in a form that makes this formerly ugly and error-prone process as polished as the rest of the OS experience. It's been a wart on an otherwise supermodel face, and one that everyone just sort of politely didn't talk about. Now there's no need for throat-clearing discomfort.

Good show, Apple. I doff my self-esteem to you.

Via Kevin.

Saturday, June 12, 2004
14:44 - Hell, I coulda told them that
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11361_WMD_Puzzle_Begins_to_Come_Togeth

(top)
Remember that whole "rush to war" thing early last year? Where there were those who urged us to attack Saddam before he had a chance to hide or destroy his contraband, knowing how embarrassing it would be if none were discovered after the war and how hard it would be to prove he actually had them? Remember how such people were scorned as fearmongers and bloodthirsty maniacs who thought blowin' stuff up as soon as possible was more important than taking the time to "build an international coalition"?

Via LGF:

The United Nations has determined that Saddam Hussein shipped weapons of mass destruction components as well as medium-range ballistic missiles before, during and after the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission briefed the Security Council on new findings that could help trace the whereabouts of Saddam’s missile and WMD program.

The briefing contained satellite photographs that demonstrated the speed with which Saddam dismantled his missile and WMD sites before and during the war. Council members were shown photographs of a ballistic missile site outside Baghdad in May 2003, and then saw a satellite image of the same location in February 2004, in which facilities had disappeared.

UNMOVIC acting executive chairman Demetrius Perricos told the council on June 9 that “the only controls at the borders are for the weight of the scrap metal, and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials within the scrap,” Middle East Newsline reported.

“It’s being exported,” Perricos said after the briefing. “It’s being traded out. And there is a large variety of scrap metal from very new to very old, and slowly, it seems the country is depleted of metal.”

“The removal of these materials from Iraq raises concerns with regard to proliferation risks,” Perricos told the council. Perricos also reported that inspectors found Iraqi WMD and missile components shipped abroad that still contained UN inspection tags.

He said the Iraqi facilities were dismantled and sent both to Europe and around the Middle East. at the rate of about 1,000 tons of metal a month. Destionations included Jordan, the Netherlands and Turkey.

But I thought there were no WMDs! I mean, the UN said so!

...Uh, wait...

(Not, again, that this matters at all to people who have understood all along that there's more to this war than frickin' WMDs. It's just kinda funny, is all. In a tragically sad kind of way.)

Friday, June 11, 2004
20:54 - "Mutton dressed as lamb"
http://features.engadget.com/entry/8828351836181248

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Via JMH: a site that walks you through the many-step process of transforming your Windows XP machine into a Mac.
  • StyleXP or WindowBlinds (skins the Graphical User Interface of your operating system)
  • ObjectBar (the white Finder bar on the top of Macs; has File, Edit, View, etc. on it.)
  • ObjectDock, YzDock (discontinued), or MobyDock (The dock on the bottom of a Mac that contains icons and shortcuts to programs)
  • Trillian (chat program that can be skinned to resemble iChat)
  • YzToolbar (skins the toolbar icons in your Windows windows)
  • YzShadow (puts a lovely drop shadow under your windows á la Mac OS X)
  • Rainlendar (popular skinable desktop calendar)
  • Rainmeter (skinnable desktop system statistics)
  • Samurize (like Konfabulator for the Mac; can display just about anything, such as clocks, uptime, and the weather)
  • iTunes for Windows (self-explanatory)
  • Icons (The pretty little pictures on your desktop that point you somewhere. There are millions out there, but try the link provided for over a 1,000 lifted from Mac OS X 10.3 aka Panther)

  • You know there's been a sea change in popular opinion when a site like this speaks in no way but fawningly about the platform it's trying to emulate. And it's pretty complete, too, even covering apps to take the place of third-party shareware goodies like the matchless Konfabulator: "Samurize is a bit complicated, so if you’re going to try and use it, be forewarned that it can be a very big hassle, if it works at all." Hey, it's completist and honest. Who can argue?

    This site may teach how to successfully turn your PC into a Mac; but far more impressively, Steve may have succeeded at last in turning the Mac into something that everybody yearns for. These are heady days, when people clamor for Mac OS X, and only cost—not derisive sidelong ribbing—prevents them from making the switch. Apple's winning hearts and minds.

    If only Bush could show as much initiative.


    13:10 - The Black Helicopter Lifecycle
    http://zapatopi.net/blackhelicopters.html

    (top)

    Mark O. alerts me to this site, which undoubtedly only has a short time to live and get out its all-important message before it goes offline for mysterious reasons.

    Black Helicopters! Not what you think they are at all!

    Heh. Nanobiotechnology, huh? Why hasn't Glenn Reynolds spoken of this? Or have they gotten to him too?!

    Thursday, June 10, 2004
    21:32 - No good deed goes unpunished
    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11342_UN_Springs_Into_Action

    (top)

    All right, what possible message could the UN be trying to send with this:

    The UN plans to deal with another complaint against Israel as well, though this one is much older. It concerns Israel’s air raid on Iraq’s atomic reactor no fewer than 23 years ago. The issue had been pushed off from year to year, as had many other long-forgotten issues, and the current rotating president of the UN General Assembly - a Caribbean Islands diplomat - finally decided to place the issue on the table.

    . . .

    Armed Israeli aggression against the [Osirak] Iraqi nuclear installations and its grave consequences for the established international system concerning the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and international peace and security

    At its forty-first session, the General Assembly called upon Israel urgently to place all its nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards in accordance with Security Council resolution 487 (1981); considered that Israel had not yet committed itself not to attack or threaten to attack nuclear facilities in Iraq or elsewhere, including facilities under Agency safeguards; reaffirmed that Iraq was entitled to compensation for the damage it had suffered as a result of the Israeli armed attack on 7 June 1981; and requested the Conference on Disarmament to continue negotiations with a view to reaching an immediate conclusion of the agreement on the prohibition of military attacks on nuclear facilities as a contribution to promoting and ensuring the safe development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes (resolution 41/12).

    ...Other than, "We like Saddam better than Israel"?

    The sheer brazenness with which the UN is trying to convince the world of its shameless agenda is simply astonishing. I guess they know there's no consequences, so why not become the Legion of Doom?

    UPDATE: By the way—"A Caribbean Islands diplomat", huh? <cough>Cuba<cough> Right. Nice of these guys to be so clear about who's demanding what.


    12:55 - Oh boy, WMDs

    (top)
    I don't normally post stuff from Stratfor, because a) it's typically under a for-pay umbrella and not something I'd feel comfortable reposting on a blog, and b) Stratfor is held in some suspicion by a lot of analysts, whether justly or not. But this bit is just a half-page brief, and I have something to say about it, so here:

    U.N.: WMD Equipment Found?
    June 10, 2004 1501 GMT

    Acting Chief U.N. Inspector Demetrius Perricos told the U.N. Security
    Council on June 9 that equipment used for producing weapons of mass
    destruction -- including 20 engines from banned Iraqi missiles -- were
    found in a Jordanian scrap yard. A similar discovery was recently made in
    the Netherlands. U.N. weapons inspectors believe the metal can be used
    both for legitimate purposes and for creating banned weapons. Perricos
    said, "The only controls at the borders are for the weight of the metal,
    and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials
    within the scrap." Inspectors do not know whether the items were at the
    sites during the Iraq war, or looters sold them as scrap.

    Hooray. All right. Huzzah.

    But you know... even if such links are proven, it'll be a hollow victory, because all it will serve to do is answer people's bilious claims that the war was all about WMDs, which if nonexistent rendered the war "invalid" or "illegal". It wouldn't do anything to convince people that the war was necessary in a much bigger sense, WMDs or no WMDs—that arguing semantics over how many missiles of so-and-so range were allowed to Saddam, or whether they were built post-1991 or properly declared to the UN, completely misses the point of why we actually fought this thing (e.g. to bring about widespread revolution against autocracy throughout the Middle East), and why there will be—must be—more targets than just Iraq.

    The doubters have managed to turn the discussion from "spreading freedom and democracy, which in turn smothers terrorism in its cradle" to "Well, okay, there's sarin and buried jet fighters and scrapped missiles, but if you can't produce a warehouse full of nukes, the whole war was just an illegal and opportunistic oil-grab that exploited post-9/11 paranoia". And that, coupled with Bush's lack of energy in getting the real message out and publicly refuting his opponents (though not all of that is his fault), is going to cause far more damage to the conviction we once had toward winning the war than any military defeat ever could.

    Another case of something whose global significance is lost because people won't stop harping on the least interesting and most damaging aspects of it.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2004
    18:54 - There's no pleasing some people

    (top)
    All right, Comic Artists of the World: What would make you happy? Huh?




    The handover of "sovereignty" is a sham! No, wait—the handover is premature and guarantees failure!

    Make up your frickin' minds, will you?!


    16:03 - What a difference a President makes
    http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/22564.htm

    (top)
    Via VodkaPundit—this look at how bad our military was in the 70s, and how good it became in the 80s, is definitely worth reading. For its historical perspective from our 21st-century vantage point as much as for anything else.

    This isn't the kind of article that will sway anyone who thinks that an army is a fundamentally ugly, dirty thing that we should keep hidden under a tarp lest we appear insufficiently meek and friendly to the rest of the world. But for people who do understand the importance of morale, leadership, standards of conduct, and true greatness and reputation in the barracks and on the battlefield, it's quite a stirring thing. When things are getting better every day, nobody likes a doomsayer.

    Which brings me to my confession. Having grown up in the late '60s and early '70s, I carried some of my generation's prejudices along with me into the Army. While I realized that Jimmy Carter had been an inept president (if a good man), I didn't support Ronald Reagan in 1980. I believed that Carter remained the safer of two mediocrities. I bought into the bigotry of those who mocked Reagan as lacking the intelligence to be president.

    And it's doubtless true that he didn't possess the highest IQ ever to enter the White House. That goes directly to what Reagan taught me: As we recently saw with another president, the greatest intelligence isn't a substitute for vision, courage and leadership. Above all, a president needs good instincts, guts and sound values. The world's overstocked with brilliant people who never get anything done.

    Exactly. Or brilliant people who are diabolically evil.

    I've long since given up considering "intelligence" to be the greatest hallmark of a person's character.


    14:47 - New G5s
    http://www.apple.com/powermac/design.html

    (top)
    2.5 GHz. Liquid-cooled.



    Ooooooo.


    10:59 - The press writes the history books
    http://nerepublican.blogspot.com/2004/06/tom-brokaw-interviews-president-bush.html

    (top)
    Let's not be having any more skepticism that the major media are clutched in the grip of people who have an active interest in seeing America lose the war—or at least in defeating Bush.

    This is a Tom Brokaw interview with Bush, in both transcript and video form. NE Republican has painstakingly highlighted some very eye-opening pieces of explanatory verbage in Bush's answers to Brokaw's questions—verbage that would have helped him make his case to the American people a lot more effectively, if only Brokaw or his editors hadn't chopped it out.

    References to Zarqawi and Abu Nadal are completely removed even though they are examples of a terrorist connection in Iraq. This is important information that needs to be repeated to the American people but is filtered right out of the President's message. Don't tell me that those two sentences were edited out for time constraints either, as they were very short.

    "All the news that's fit to print" indeed. Don't tell me there isn't censorship in America today.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2004
    20:50 - Buncha Tidbits
    http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=484

    (top)
    Check out some of these bullet items from a press conference with Steve Jobs today.

    • Jobs stated that he is proud not only of the products Apple has shipped, but also the products Apple has decided not to ship. When asked to elaborate, Jobs replied, "an Apple PDA."

    Ouch! So much for all those rumors, then. It's probably just as well, though; after all, we all know how the PDA market is just erupting.

    • Jobs was reportedly pressed hard about supporting the WMA format. He said that Apple has no plans to support the format unless Microsoft reaches 50% market share, at which point Jobs welcomed Microsoft to ask him again.

    Steve, you frickin' smartass.

    • Jobs confirmed the European launch of iTMS on June 15.

    At last! Now if only they can come up with a European digital-photo-processing company that can make prints and books at anywhere near the US price point.

    Steve Jobs dazzled a very exclusive, high-powered crowd. Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard spoke before him, and took a barrage of questions for which she didn't have good answers; Bill Gates spoke of the digital hub in only the broadest visionary terms. Jobs was amazing and very insightful, and he actually delivered.

    Yeah, he'll do that. I'm reminded of the unveiling of .Mac; Gates was in full blowhard mode that week, talking about Hailstorm and .NET and Passport and all the wonder that centralized services would bring the world, someday in the distant future... and then Steve said, "What, you mean like this?"

    Oh, and those 30-inch LCD displays are coming. Any day now. (The fact that the story contains details about abandoning the ADC connector, an idealistic but ultimately problematic solution in a world of stupid and lamentable interoperability concerns, in favor of a reversion to DVI, lends some credence to this long-lived rumor.)


    16:32 - Stupid pedantic Muggles
    http://tomfranck.blogdrive.com/comments?id=27

    (top)
    Yeah, well, we all knew that Quidditch didn't make any sense. But I guess it was only a matter of time before someone did a full analysis of just how little sense it makes...


    15:41 - That's why we call it the Mac community
    http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/broken_windows

    (top)
    Michael sends this article by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, in which he deftly dissects the long-running controversy over "crapware" (malware, spyware, popups, etc) and how they respectively affect Mac OS X and Windows. He argues that Mac users are shielded in part by Mac OS X's less-vulnerable nature, and combines that with a keen observation on how the Mac user community operates.

    Zero tolerance, on the part of the user community, is the only policy that can work.

    It’s similar to the “broken windows” theory of urban decay, which holds that if a single window is left unrepaired in a building, in fairly short order, the remaining windows in the building will be broken. Fixing windows as soon as they are broken sends a message: that vandalism will not be tolerated. But not fixing windows also sends a message: that vandalism is acceptable. Worse, once a problem such as vandalism starts, if left unchecked, it flourishes.

    My answer to question posed earlier — why are Windows users besieged with security exploits, while Mac users suffer none? — is that Windows is like a bad neighborhood, strewn with litter, mysterious odors, panhandlers, and untold dozens of petty annoyances. Many Windows users are simply resigned to the fact that their computers contain software that is not under their control. And if they’ll tolerate an annoying application that badgers them with pop-up ads, well, why not a spyware virus that logs every key you type, then sends them back to the creator? (That’s a real virus, by the way, Korgo, which hit Windows at the end of May and is spreading quickly.)

    The Mac is like a good neighborhood, where the streets are clean and the crime rate low. You don’t need bars on your windows in a good neighborhood; you don’t need anti-virus software on the Mac.

    When the now-infamous "Too-Helpful Help Viewer" vulnerability was publicized about a month ago, members of the Mac community immediately jumped into action; a day or two later, there were several independently-developed utilities that random developers had written to patch the hole, beating Apple to the punch by several days. A citizen's arrest, as it were. Neighborhood Watch.

    This is a great illustration of a number of things: a) Mac OS X's general architectural imperviousness to the typical kinds of malware; b) the open and scriptable nature of Mac OS X apps, which allows third-party geeks to write patches for them just as easily as it allows hackers to drive them in malevolent ways; and c) the fact that the Mac community really cares about keeping the streets safe. They'll watch out for each other.

    Gruber then goes on to tackle the arguments that Windows is more often targeted because it has so much more market share, and even conceding several points "for the sake of argument" still manages to make a pretty convincing case that market share has little or nothing to do with it. It's about architecture and the dynamics of the user community. Taking his analysis to its extreme, it's hard to deny the compelling analogy that the Windows world is rather like the European "cope with problems, pretend they don't exist, and wait for the cops to come protect you" attitude, whereas the Mac lets people live in one of the nice, clean neighborhoods where everyone's extremely polite because everybody keeps a gun in the house.

    Plus Gruber uses the word "asshat", so one suspects he travels in circles that help him cultivate this perspective.


    14:23 - I guess the party's over
    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=518&e=2&u=/ap/20040608/ap_on_re_eu/i

    (top)
    Aww. So much for all that oil that we went to Iraq in order to steal.

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi officials declared Tuesday that the interim government has assumed full control of the country's oil industry ahead of the June 30 handover of sovereignty from the U.S.-led occupation administration.

    "Today the most important natural resource has been returned to Iraqis to serve all Iraqis," Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. "I'm pleased to announce that full sovereignty and full control on oil industry has been handed over to the oil ministry today and to the new Iraqi government as of today."

    The announcement came as Allawi and Oil Minister Thamir Ghadbhan toured the al-Doura oil refinery in southern Baghdad.

    After meeting and shaking hands with the refinery workers, the two ministers thanked oil sector workers.

    "We are totally now in control, there are no more advisers," Ghadbhan said. "We are running the show, the oil policies will be implemented 100 percent by Iraqis."

    Damn! And I was so enjoying the historically low gas prices to which we've all become accustomed ever since the invasion.

    Via LGF.


    11:11 - Hey, I've got an idea! ...Wait, never mind

    (top)
    iTunes' "Smart Playlists" are what amount to SQL queries into your music database, allowing you to specify a list of songs that match certain criteria (like, for example, songs where the Genre is Rock AND the Year is greater than 1960 AND the Year is less than 1974 AND the Artist is not Steve Miller AND the last-played date is earlier than one month ago). It's very handy for making live-updating lists of, say, all your 60s music, or all the songs you've never listened to, or all your top-rated songs, or any number of other combinations yet to be dreamed up.

    However, one thing it doesn't allow are what in SQL would be parenthetical clauses within the query. You can specify as many or as few criteria as you want; but the criteria list only allows you to select between matching all of the criteria (a logical AND) or any of the criteria (a logical OR). You can't, for example, specify a playlist with criteria like: (Genre is not Comedy AND Genre is not Books & Spoken) OR (Artist is Monty Python), to get a list of music or Monty Python, but no other comedy or spoken-word stuff. Or you can't do Songs where (the rating is greater than 3 stars OR there is no rating at all), AND the Genre is Rock, to get Rock songs that are either rated highly or you haven't gotten around to rating them yet.

    Bummer, I thought. That would be really cool, wouldn't it? I wonder how you'd go about transliterating that kind of query structure into an easily understandable user interface, though.

    Wait! I know! What if you could specify, as one of the criteria in a Smart Playlist, membership in another playlist? That way, you could specify one playlist that matches a bunch of AND conditions or a bunch of OR conditions, and then you could further filter those songs by making their playlist a criterion in a second Smart Playlist! Huh? Huhh?

    ...Wait, let's see if maybe that feature is already there, before I go sending off feature requests...



    Agh! Blast! That darn Apple is always two steps ahead of me!

    Monday, June 7, 2004
    01:13 - The sad part is...
    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11308_Haters_Converge_in_SF

    (top)
    This guy:



    ...will tell you, quite earnestly, that he's marching for peace.

    And further, that America is a Nazi police state in which Muslims are being sent daily to the camps.

    Sweet merciful crap, there are things wrong with this world.


    11:39 - AirTunes
    http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/

    (top)
    Gadzooks! Apple keeps filling in whatever holes in its lineup look remotely thin. And once even a one-word statement, like the word AirTunes, is out of their mouth... you wonder how it could have been any more obvious a step.

    AirPort Express works with iTunes to make listening to your iTunes music library through your home stereo or powered speakers not only a possibility but a snap.(1) Whether your stereo or powered speakers are located in your living room, bedroom or basement, just plug it or them into the audio port on the AirPort Express Base Station using an audio cable. iTunes automatically detects the connection. When you open iTunes on your AirPort-equipped Mac or Wi-Fi-compliant PC, you’ll see a popup list at the bottom right of the iTunes window showing your remote speakers. Select it, click play and your stereo becomes the world’s greatest digital jukebox.

    Think of the possibilities — not only when you’re alone, but when you’re entertaining guests. No more wading through a sea of CDs to find the one you want only to have to change it when you’re ready to hear a different song by a different artist. Even if you have a CD changer, your options are limited. With iTunes, on the other hand, you can create playlists and include all the songs you want from your music collection and have them play exactly in the order you want. Using the Party Shuffle feature in iTunes, you can even add and delete songs to your playlist on the fly. Or if you prefer an element of surprise, you can have iTunes just shuffle through your entire music library. With iTunes, it’s your music, your way. And now you can have it in any room of your house.

    Buy more than one AirPort Express Base Station and connect one to every stereo or set of powered speakers in your house — for example, you can connect one to your stereo in your bedroom, one to your stereo in your living room and still another to a pair of powered speakers in your kitchen. Its small size and affordability make it perfect for having more than one. Imagine being able to play your iTunes music on whichever speakers in your house you prefer.

    This is what iTunes 4.5's "Party Shuffle" feature was made for.

    I once dreamed of building a wall nook for an iPod that would control the house's ambient music, with power from the embedded Romex and everything. But hell—this is what I meant all along.

    Must... not... buy... ...just... paid for... kitchen...

    UPDATE: AirPort Express is also designed to be mobile, which is purported to be a first; it's tiny, and the setup utility lets you set up profiles for various locations, so you can set up in a friend's dorm room or in a favorite hotel or wherever, and everybody in the room gets wireless access. Spooky, man...

    UPDATE: As CapLion aptly says, "I wish Apple would just hurry up and go out of business so I wouldn't have to keep buying all this cool stuff they build."

    Really, who can be so hard-hearted as to scoff at something like this?

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    © Brian Tiemann