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:

Steven Den Beste
James Lileks
Little Green Footballs
As the Apple Turns
Cold Fury
Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
Ravishing Light
Cartago Delenda Est

Cars without compromise.

Book Plugs:

Buy 'em and I get
money. I think.
BSD Mall

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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, July 18, 2004
01:35 - No slowing down

Via Chris M, the Newsweek cover story on the new iPod is now online, as well as a secondary (but longer) "iPod Nation" article. If there were ever to be a "critical mass" moment for the iPod, it looks like this is it. Also it seems they've finally zeroed in on the ideal product design, or at least the most ideal one yet:
The click wheel. The iPod keeps getting slimmer and more streamlined. While the initial version had a relatively boxy feel, subsequent versions have been curvier and smaller. This one is about a millimeter thinner and, more significantly, eliminates the control buttons that sat under the display screen. Instead, it uses a "click wheel," where the controls are placed on the compass points of the circular touchpad that lets you scroll through menus. This is an innovation carried over from the diminutive iPod Mini. "It was developed out of necessity for the Mini, because there wasn't enough room [for the buttons]," says Steve Jobs. "But the minute we experienced it we just thought, 'My God, why didn't we think of this sooner?' "

Exactly. This is what the second generation should have been; the fact that the new button layout debuted on the iPod mini, and that the 2nd-gen iPod had the identical, feedback-less, touch-sensitive buttons that reacted as you fumbled for the right one to press instead of the original's spatially organized and physically clicking buttons, is rather a glaring oversight by the design team. All is now well again.

Also, as Chris adds:

PS unintentionally funny bit in the second piece, "iPod Nation":

"I love it!" says songwriter Denise Rich. "I have my whole catalog on it and I take it everywhere."

a) what an astoundingly pedestrian quote--we needed to have a songwriter tell us this?

b) and yes, Denise Rich is the songwriter who contributed $1 million to the the DNC, $450,000 to Clinton's Presidential Library Foundation, and whose indicted ex, Marc Rich, was pardoned by President Clinton.


Funny that when Newsweek thinks of a songwriter, this is the person they go to....

True, though not really surprising. And somehow I don't imagine Steve would be too disappointed by this coverage either...

UPDATE: Naturally, Apple's site is updated too. (I guess this is what they meant by a "non-standard press event".) Looks like the battery life is back up to 12 hours, too—woo-hoo!

Only two models, though: 20-gig and 40-gig, at $299 and $399 respectively. I was wondering how they could have introduced such a price drop without cannibalizing iPod mini ($249) sales, unless they dropped the bottom-end unit; and it looks like that's exactly what they've done.

Of course, then... 60-gig at $499 within a month, yesno?

21:03 - An unexpected treasure trove

Someone's iMix: The WORST Music on iTunes!

Some of this stuff is pure fool's gold. (Yes, it's got William Hung in it...)

15:38 - M@c R SMRT & Ur Dum!!!!11l`11oneoneone

Heh. Paul Murphy of LinuxInsider has done a "language usage analysis" of Mac users vs. PC users on Slashdot, with the aim of discovering whether Mac users are smarter than PC users.

My wife has a Dilbert cartoon on her office door in which one of the characters says: "If you have any trouble sounding condescending, find a Unix user to show you how." She's a Mac user and they were worse even before they all became Unix users too.

Or maybe not. But finding out whether the average Mac user really is smarter than the rest of us isn't so easy. Part of the problem is that even if you matched the admissions test results for a graduate school with individual PC or Mac preferences to discover a strong positive correlation, people would argue that the Mac users are exceptional for other reasons, that the tests don't measure anything relevant, and that it's unethical to do this in the first place.

In fact, it's pretty clear that this topic is sufficiently emotionally loaded that you'd get shouted down by one side or another no matter how you did the research; and that's too bad because a clear answer one way or the other would be interesting.

I doubt it's possible to get a definitive answer, but as long as you don't take any of it too seriously you can have a lot of fun playing with proxies such as the average user's ability to read and write his or her native language. This isn't necessarily a reasonable measure of intelligence (mainly because intelligence has yet to be defined) but almost everyone agrees that a native English speaker's ability to write correct English correlates closely with that person's ability to think clearly.

. . .

Overall, the results are pretty clear: Mac users might not actually be smarter than PC users, but they certainly use better English and a larger vocabulary to express more complex thinking.

Bah. All it means is that Mac users are the elitist, intellectual, language-fetishizing rebels who think they're hotter than the filthy unwashed masses. But we knew that already.

At least, those who post on Slashdot are...

14:28 - They know what's important

Just now on KCBS, at the top o' the hour:

Coming up: An Iraqi-government-sanctioned U.S. airstrike against suspected insurgents in the Iraqi city of Fallujah has killed some fourteen people. Local hospitals, however, report that some civilians are among the dead. Also, in sports...

Don't you just love it? Not a word about whether the attack was successful or not. Only that there were civilians killed.

Sure glad our media has its priorities in order.

12:43 - That's more like what I had in mind

Via Cold Fury—Orson Scott Card is at least one storysmith who's put his talents to good use lately.

How stupid are Americans?

I think the answer is:

As dumb as we wanna be.

Well, let's come back to that thought.

Kerry's voting record in the Senate says that he'd rather our military consisted of a sixty-man chorus dressed in camo and singing "Give Me Some Men Who Are Stout-Hearted Men."

And maybe, maybe, one bugler.

If it had been up to Kerry, we wouldn't have had enough of a military to take over downtown Dallas, let alone Iraq.

But, just like Clinton, Kerry has realized that you can say anything you want during the campaign. As long as you're the Democratic candidate, the liberal media will actually take your promises seriously; and when the Republicans start attacking your record, they'll accuse them of "negative campaigning."

Not only that, but Kerry's sudden "stronger defense" plans are not provoking howls of outrage from the anti-war wing of his own party.

Why is that? Don't you wonder?

I mean, they're still ripping into President Bush as if he were the anti-Christ -- no, as if he were Mel Gibson -- because they hate this war that has closed down two terrorist-sponsoring governments and liberated millions from tyranny.

But when Kerry promises to do exactly what President Bush has been doing, only "better," they don't attack him at all. Why is that?

For the same reason that the economic leftists of the Democratic Party didn't attack Clinton back in 1992.

They don't believe him.

It's as simple as that.

They know that Kerry, like Clinton, is merely saying whatever it takes to get elected. You paint yourself as the sober moderate so people will vote for you. Then, when you're in office, you behave exactly like the leftist you really are.

This would explain the peals of giddy laughter that Kerry gets whenever he drools out that joke about how Bush wants to "lay off your camel, tax your shovel, kick your ass and tell you there is no promised land", so hoary that it's been used on every President since Truman; his audience, apparently, is simply so starved to hear any words come out of any mouth but Bush's that they'll cheer however loudly they have to, for whatever moronic babble it is, toward the greater goal of having Bush defeated in November. Issues? Issues don't matter. Deeds don't matter. Character doesn't matter. The only thing, evidently, that matters is the name—as long as the name of the guy sitting in the Oval Office is not spelled B-U-S-H, the actual person whose name it is could be Rasputin and they'd still slurp at his toes.

But the vast middle group, the people who get their news from Leno and Letterman and Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, all they know is "Bush Is Dumb" and "Kerry's Going to Win the War." So guess which one they'll vote for.

Precisely what I've been saying. We've become a people that derives our political views from the Ivy-League snobbishness of Doonesbury, the anarchic nihilism of George Carlin, and whoever can do the best impression of the President on Saturday Night Live. Sincerity is lost; we assume that whatever any politician actually says is a lie, so we depend on humorists and satirists—dealers in irony and invective—to have done our thinking for us, to have analyzed the politicians' lie-filled speeches and separated the meaning from the rhetoric, then gone to the trouble to distill it into a series of Flash-animated caricatures to be shown on VH1. If they've got a funny-as-hell joke all queued up, ready to stake their ratings on it, we think, surely that means they've thought the matter through! We worship the irreverent because it deconstructs complex reality for us into something to laugh at derisively and shriek "It's true! It's so true!" in ecstatic response.

Regardless of what Kerry promises during his campaign, a vote for him is a vote to end any serious effort to fight terrorism using our military abroad. And since he is also committed to dismantling the laws that make serious homeland security possible, just how do you think he's going to do against our sworn enemies?

There is a difference between the two candidates. A huge one.

In the past couple of weeks, people have been giving Reagan way too much credit for being an international tough guy. The collapse of the Soviet Union? I recall that Gorbachev and Yeltsin had something to do with bringing the idea of freedom to Russia. Reagan might have said, "Tear down this wall," but he also traded arms for hostages and pulled the Marines out of Beirut as a reward to the terrorists.

In other words, we revere Reagan for his toughness, but he had his non-tough moments, and he got lots of credit for things he only contributed to.

George W. Bush is the real thing. Despite unbelievable political hostility, at home and abroad, he has determinedly pursued the war that we had to fight, and still have to pursue until we win.

Reagan caved in on Beirut and on paying off hostage-takers. George W. Bush hasn't caved in on anything significant concerning this war.

But W isn't smooth on TV. He has Letterman ridiculing him viciously every night on NBC. He has a lot of liars calling him a liar. The media message is constantly being pounded home: Even though W has successfully governed our country through the first two campaigns of a war that was forced on us; even though he has presided over a recovery from the recession that began during Clinton's presidency, despite the huge economic setback caused by 9/11; even though he has a track record that would be the envy of any wartime or peacetime president ...

In other words, even though he has the job of President and has done it as well as anyone in recent years (and, I believe, better than Reagan by quite some) ...

He still might lose the election, because Americans are so dumb we actually believe it when political dimwits like Letterman call Bush stupid ...

Which brings us back to the original question Card poses. Are we Americans actually that stupid? I think not. I don't think we're any more stupid as a people than anyone else on the planet. I don't even think most Leftists are stupid—I'd venture that genuine stupidity is a characteristic that gets distributed fairly evenly across the spectrum, and is in fact really quite rare. If stupidity were the hallmark of any particular political view, we wouldn't have people like Ralph Nader or Pat Robertson—both geniuses in their own right—commanding empires of personality at opposite ends of the landscape.

No, it isn't stupidity. It's just the dynamics of our modern form of political discourse. Everything has to be reduced to a joke, a one-liner, a sound bite. And in polite private conversation, everyone wants to have their own little anecdote or slogan that defines how they feel politically, so if the guy across the dinner table makes some jibe about our leaders, we'll know how to swat it right back with the dexterity of a badminton champion.

Peer pressure is what it is. Peer pressure is a very powerful force; the smartest among us can fall prey to it, and have ever since we've had peers. If you take a random sample of people, with differing political views, they'll all generally sort of avoid hanging their banners out too far, because nobody wants to be unpleasant in mixed company. But stir the pot a little, leave it out in the sun—and sooner or later, people will gravitate toward others of like mind. Our form of political discourse is to suck in what the comics on Comedy Central say and then regurgitate it at opportune times; and since comedians all sing the same tune nowadays (how funny can someone be while waving a flag? You've got to tackle The Man, right? And comedians band together too, once they see which way the wind is blowing), the audiences soon find themselves bobbing in a sea of uniform derision and hatred for Bush.

Then, while walking your dog through a pleasant residential neighborhood, you find a truck parked at the sidewalk with the words BUSH LIED — VOTE HIM OUT written in duct tape on the back window, and you stop in your tracks and stare for a moment... and then you just shake your head and keep moving, because what good would it do? How likely is the truck's driver going to be to listen to you quote the Butler Report, or challenge him to explain exactly how Bush did lie? You're harshing his mellow, to use an apt expression from a site I seem to have seen recently. You're not being funny. In this day and age, even facts have to be weighed against what the comedians say, and they're at a distinct disadvantage too. We don't give sincerity a second thought. If it can't be spun into a relentlessly infectious joke on prime-time cable, where the only voice that bucks the trend is the ever-more-my-hero Trey Parker, we don't take it seriously.

No, we're not being stupid. We're just assuming that the pop-culture consensus burbling around us got that way for a reason—that if every comedian in the world says "Bush is Stupid" or "Bush Lied", then how can it not be so? After all, fifty million Americans can't be wrong . . .

Anyway, read Card's whole piece. It's best absorbed in unedited sequence. Authors tend to be like that.

11:44 - In Japan, they call him "Annual Gift Man" and he lives on the Moon

Brian sends this:

In the remote mountains of northern Japan sits a strange little town with an even stranger story.

It’s a story of Jesus Christ, and it goes a little something like this: Jesus didn’t die up on his cross at Golgotha. That was his brother. Christ himself fled across Siberia and, after a brief detour through Alaska, landed in Japan — where he got married and raised a family.

The town, Shingo, calls itself Kirisuto no Sato: Hometown of Christ.

Check out this alternate legend. At least he didn't have tentacles...

Saturday, July 17, 2004
22:39 - Okay, so Newsweek still does have some value after all


I knew they'd go to the integrated button/wheel for the next generation. Nice! Very nice.

The Think Secret report also noted that Apple's announcement of the new iPod models would be delivered through an "out-of-the ordinary publicity medium" rather than through a press event; the Newsweek issue is that medium and was first revealed at AppleNova, the official message board of Think Secret. According to sources, the cover story was written by technology reporter Steven Levy. The issue will be available on Sunday; Apple is expected to announce the new iPod models on Monday.

In our Saturday report, we also said that we were not able to confirm the prices of the new iPods, but that sources say they will be lower than those of current models.

60GB models are likely to be in the offing. Sweeet. Oh, and look—they've redone the main menu. "Music" is a better and more evocative name than "Browse"; having "Browse" and "Playlists" at the same level is sort of funky. This is likely to be better. And I've been wanting a more easily accessible Shuffle setting for a long time; right now it's in the Settings sub-menu, but I use it all the time (switching back and forth between randomized playlists and sequential albums), and it really needs to be in a place as easily accessible as the Shuffle button in iTunes (as opposed to being buried in iTunes' Preferences). Very good. I'm glad to see they're still hard at work incorporating user feedback into what's already an awesome piece of UI work, and making it better yet. The Pod People march on...!

17:48 - Six Degrees from Lileks

Heh. This is the kind of thing that makes the blogosphere such a small, fun world:

I googled the cartoonist, [Sam] Viviano, wondering if the kid had just stepped back into the smothering mists of history. There certainly wasn’t much promise in the illustrations, after all. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out that he was living in Arizona running a popular restaurant? I could call him up and ask if he remembered appearing in this book I’d saved for more than a quarter of a century. “You – you have a copy?” he’d say. “I don’t believe it. I lost my only copy in a flood, and never thought I’d see it again. Bless you!” Or so those stories go if the fates decide it’s a happy-ending day.

Well, imagine my surprise.

From Lileks to Sam Viviano to MAD to The Lion King to me. Gee whiz, indeed!

16:05 - The New York Enquirer

Here's something that happened while I was up at my folks' place this week on vacation.

Now, I don't normally make a habit of watching the evening mainstream media news. I'd gotten out of that practice at college, since we didn't have TV there; and afterwards, I had the Web (and, later, blogs) to satisfy my appetite for news. These days I don't even listen to KCBS on the radio anymore. But, you know, hey—if I have the opportunity to refresh my memory as to why I no longer find this to be an important source from which to get my news, I'll often take it.

So the evening news comes on—I'm not sure which one; I think it was CBS News, the big national six-o-clockstravaganza. And what's their absolute top story, the thing with which they lead off the hour of news, the piece of reporting with gravest national import?

Why, this:

In the annals of Washington conspiracy theories, the latest one, about Vice President Dick Cheney's future on the Republican ticket, is as ingenious as it is far-fetched. But that has not stopped it from racing through Republican and Democratic circles like the latest low-carb diet.

The newest theory - advanced privately by prominent Democrats, including members of Congress - holds that Mr. Cheney recently dismissed his personal doctor so that he could see a new one, who will conveniently tell him in August that his heart problems make him unfit to run with Mr. Bush.

Mind you, this rumor was not the story, per se: the story was that the New York Times had printed this. "Quiet rumors that Dick Cheney might be dropped from the ticket became a lot louder this morning," said the anchorwoman, "When the New York Times this morning published this story." They showed a photo of the article in situ on the newspaper. This was the story! That this rumor, advanced by nobody more in-the-know than "prominent Democrats", had been printed by the NYT. And, you know, if CBS's goal was to expose the NYT as a source of garbled lies, it would have made a pretty strong case. But somehow I doubt that's what their intention was.

The news desk then turned to CBS' primary Washington correspondent, that fat guy who looks like Wayne Knight, who said that he'd spoken directly to "no fewer than five top Bush administration officials, from Karl Rove on down," all of whom had assured him in no uncertain terms that the rumor was unfounded—that Cheney was on the ticket, that the party considers him an asset, that there's no reason to expect any changes. So the newsdesk appears to have made the best effort possible, and found that there's no basis in truth for publishing this rumor as-is. Sounds like good reporting so far, right? That silly Times!

...But what does CBS do next?

Why, yes—you guessed it! They called up John Kerry and got a sound bite:

"The Bush administration may like to paint me as some kind of flip-flopper. But if Bush drops Cheney from the ticket, he will prove himself to be the flip-flopper of all time."

Wheee! Isn't this great? This is how news is made today! If you're a "prominent Democrat", apparently, you can now just make up wild stories with no basis in reality and send them in to the New York Times, who will gleefully print them above the fold! Hey—since this has worked so well this time, let's accuse Bush of murdering Jon-Benet Ramsey, and Condi Rice of being a space alien engaged to Elvis! By the end of the day, you'll have John Kerry on the phone with Dan Rather and fifty million viewers, telling us all in concerned tones how much he disapproves of the murder of child beauty queens and the Republicans' tacit policy of employing illegal aliens in top official positions, not to mention his belief that he, like most Americans, frowns on interspecies marriage between extraterrestrials and dead musicians. Just watch the polls soar! Damn Republicans won't know what hit 'em. Huzzah!

Seriously, after this story finished playing itself out on Wednesday night, I just sat there staring at the TV. This is the news I spent so many years watching? It was't always this much of a farce, was it?

I mean, come on... at least wait until news actually happens before you give political candidates a platform on which to make hay out of it, huh?

14:24 - Oh yes, I'm supposed to not be here

I guess I'm not gone till Sunday like I thought I'd be. The family visit was only for the course of the week; we just dropped off my brother and his wife at the airport a couple of hours ago, and things are now slowly getting back to normal around here. Oh boy! 900 e-mails to go through!

I may have more to say about the week after I've dug a few furrows through my inbox.

14:15 - Guinan, report to Airlock B

Sometimes comedy just writes itself.

CapLion has the scoop: Whoopi Goldberg has been dropped from her SlimFast endorsement because lots of SlimFast customers wrote and called in to complain about her embarrassingly crude anti-Bush comedy routine a little while ago (that John Kerry giddily attended, naturally).

Predictably enough, Whoopi concluded that this textbook case of free market expression amounts to the suppression of free speech:

"The fact that I am no longer the spokesman for SlimFast makes me sad, but not as sad as someone trying to punish me for exercising my right as an American to speak my mind."

Just for reference, Whoopi, here's the right you have as an American to speak your mind:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I'm sure that with your empathic powers, you can not only tell when the Enterprise is a ship of peace and not a ship of war, but also that the First Amendment guarantees that a private corporation that hires you for endorsement work is not allowed to terminate your contract when you make public statements that offend that corporation's customers and cause them to switch to competitors' products.

All well and good so far, right? All neatly following the script? "The President sucks! Now give me my money!" "No! You're scaring away our customers!" "Eeeee! You're crushing my dissent!" We've all heard it before. Nothing new here, right?

Here's where it really starts inducing the giggles:

Diversity promoter Asa Khalif, who has made headlines for accusing celebrities of insensitivity, cried foul in the Goldberg firing. "I smell racism from beginning to end," said Khalif, head of Racial Unity USA in Pennsylvania. "SlimFast must realize that black women have every right to voice their views."

I get it. Now it's because she's black. Now, all of a sudden, Whoopi Goldberg, the most successful and famous African-American comedienne of all time, is the victim of racism. She's been fired by SlimFast for being black and opinionated. See, 'cause if she had been white and SlimFast had fired her for her comments, Mr. "Diversity Promoter" would have been just peachy-keen with developments, right?

And if Whoopi had been fired by, say, Ben & Jerry's for voicing pro-Bush views, I'm sure Mr. Khalif would be pounding the podium and yelling that she was fired because she's black, right?

My God. Does this stuff defy parody, or what?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004
14:59 - Gone

I'm going to be away from net access for the next several days, probably until Sunday night. Blogging may be slightly curtailed.

See you all later!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004
23:50 - See, see, what it is, is this is what it is, see

Somewhere along the line, something happened that changed how people everywhere view the President.

I don't know what exactly it was, or whether it's this President in particular that this applies to; but what happened is that the burden of proof shifted from those who wanted to posit that Bush was evil to those who wanted to posit that he wasn't. In earlier times, we generally assumed the President had flaws, but that someone who wanted to discredit him would have to point them out and prove them. Otherwise we gave the President the benefit of the doubt, out of respect for the office and an understanding of the need for unity—discussing the issues of the day rather than the vagaries of the President himself. But sometime, somehow, it became the accepted understanding that Bush was a bad person; and suddenly, it was no longer necessary to cite reasons for believing so. Particularly in the personal circles in which I travel, it's become such that finding someone who isn't anti-Bush is about like stumbling across a Platygaeist. He's the subject of honest bewilderment ("...You're joking, right?"), then scorn and ire.

in these circles, the accepted wisdom is that Bush is a fanatical religious zealot, even though he's no more overtly religious in his speeches and conduct than, say, Clinton, or indeed any other President in our history. Although it's an article of faith that "politicians lie", in Bush's case even a "lie" that turns out to be true is cause for crucifixion. Though throughout the 90s it was obvious throughout pop culture, movies, and comedy routines that Saddam was an evil monster whom we should remove as quickly and expediently as possible, in the post-9/11 world for Bush to follow up on everybody's heartfelt exhortations—from Gore to Kerry to Edwards—by invading Iraq makes him into Hitler.

What moved the goalposts this far? What has caused this drastic a change in how we judge our leaders? How do we even cope with this kind of cognitive dissonance?

Because that's what it is. I honestly just don't get it—I can't see how one can arrive at the mindset that the President is presumed evil and must be proved benign. I mean, I can laugh at Clinton jokes as hard as anybody; but I fully and unhesitatingly recognize the good things about him. He was an astonishingly good "uniter"; he created an atmosphere in which we could enjoy the prosperity of the 90s without being worried that we were taking ourselves too seriously. He did rather disgrace the office, but realistically, he was only following in a grand tradition of Presidential lasciviousness that went back generations. I can respect Clinton even as I disagree today with a lot of what he stood for. And should Kerry win, I'd give him the same respect due his office even as I stood in opposition to many of his policies. I've never equated Clinton with Stalin, and unless he grows horns and a tail, I don't ever intend to call Kerry Satan.

So what is it about Bush that has driven so many people, frankly, around the bend?

I don't know, but I can guess—without too much glibness—that it was just 9/11.

How? In the sense, I suppose, that we've reached a point in our national discourse where we've become so obsessed with the cult of the "other"—the en-vogue oppressed minority, the fetishized untainted aboriginal tribe, the patriarchal European social and political paragon, the non-Christian religious zeal—that when something as horrific as 9/11 occurs, we're allergically reluctant to blame it on anybody or anything but ourselves, especially when it appears to originate from the basic tenets of a romantically un-Western culture. We have a desperate need, instead of blaming someone else and risking being called "racist", to find an internal scapegoat for something that shakes our psyches thus to the core. And what better candidate for that role than a President who's already seen as somewhat illegitimate, and who already has a reputation as being a bit of a verbal bumbler, and (for special bonus credit) comes from the party that is seen as being opposed to the party that gave us the carefree prosperity of the 90s? Voilá: the perfect recipe for a domestically generated "problem" designed to take our minds off the bigger, externally imposed problem that we all know is out there, lurking.

We want our problems to be close to home, so we can feel like we have a chance of solving them. We'll even alter reality if that's what it takes.

...Then again, though, it might have just been the fallout and bitter backlash from Monica Lewinsky.

22:59 - So that's how it is

Via InstaPundit:

Recognition of the obvious. The media “wants Kerry to win” and so “they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic” and “there’s going to be this glow about” them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, “The Sunshine Boys?” Inside, an article carrying Thomas’ byline contrasted how “Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine.” The cover story touted how Kerry and Edwards “became a buddy-buddy act, hugging and whispering like Starsky and Hutch after consuming the evidence.”

Newsweek’s competitor, Time, also gushed about the Democratic ticket, dubbing them, in the headline over their story, “The Gleam Team.”

Oh, but there is no media bias! What a silly idea!

18:16 - John C. Dvorak is on crack

He thinks Microsoft is getting bored and planning to shut down.

The company is already saving a tremendous amount of money by offshoring jobs and using cheap H1-B visa holders for U.S. jobs. This is well documented. So what does Microsoft do with the profits besides bank them? It talks a big game about R&D but its most mundane product, the Internet Explorer browser, is full of holes and is essentially a bunch of cobbled-together old code. Here's an interesting exercise for you: Open Internet Explorer. Go to Help, then About, and you'll see that Microsoft still acknowledges that Internet Explorer is the old Spyglass browser based on Mosaic. This was thrown together years ago. Then look at the copyright notice. It ends in 2001. Unless I'm mistaken, that means that there has been no real update since then, just patches. To get a bigger laugh, click on Acknowledgements and see how long you can endure the laundry list of people who worked on the code. It's as if the entire state of Washington did some coding. Why?

The fact is this software, which has been mostly stagnant since the marginalization of Netscape, is just coasting. So where is all the R&D? I don't see it. In fact, I see the entire company coasting along making more and more money with possibly one concept ahead: to close down.

Yeah, I know that sounds ridiculous, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for a high-tech software company to just end its life cycle by closing. I recall the early days of microcomputing when Processor Technology closed. Everyone thought they went broke, but it turned out that the founders were just bored with the business and closed. It has been done.

. . .

With Microsoft shuttered, where would it leave the users? Most users could coast on XP for three years if they had to. Perhaps Microsoft could shut its doors after Longhorn comes out. Perhaps the stable Win2K would emerge as the pass-around operating system of choice, assuming that Microsoft would send all its OS offerings into the public domain as one last slap at Linux.

Is this so very far-fetched? You tell me.

Um... yes.

I think Dvorak is like the proverbial stopped clock: he just throws out one new freakish theory after another, every time a column is due, and sooner or later one of them is bound to be right...

14:22 - As if it weren't obvious

This John Podhoretz column is actually quite a good read. He raises some good points that follow from this:

JOHN Kerry has finally spoken the words that make the November election an unambiguous choice. On "60 Minutes" on Sunday night, according to the official transcript released by CBS News, Kerry said: "I am against the — the war."

He tried to qualify them, to fudge them a bit, but no matter. The words are now out there and can't be taken back.

Oh, but he'll try. He'll say the opposite, and then switch back again, for every audience he talks to between now and November. After all, now he'll have to. Stupid economy keeps getting better, and now he has to find something new to berate Bush for. He can't even say he lied anymore.

What I want to know is this: How, after Sunday night, could a President Kerry ask a single man or woman in the U.S. armed forces to risk his or her life in Iraq when he is "against the — the war"? Don't simple honesty and decency demand that Kerry immediately announce his plans for a complete withdrawal from Iraq?

Kerry has made no such announcement. In fact, he continues to proclaim his support for a huge American presence in Iraq on the grounds that "the world has a stake in . . . a stable Iraq."

He never speaks about the Iraq war in terms of protecting America from terrorism, or advancing democracy in the Muslim Middle East, or liberating a suffering people from more than 30 years of tyranny and chaos.

He offers no cause higher or nobler than "stability."

That cannot stand. Kerry cannot lead this country to a successful resolution of the hostilities in Iraq if the only positive value he sees in victory is "stability." The country won't stand for it.

Kerry may share JFK's initials, but right now, the president he most resembles is Richard Milhous Nixon — the very man he condemned in 1971 for not wanting to be "the first president to lose a war."

Nixon did become the first president to lose a war.

If John Kerry becomes president, he'll be the second.

Uh huh. You know, the news about the Philippines, and the stark contrast between Bush's and Kerry's approaches to the war and terrorism, are perfect illustrations of the whole central point of everything we've all been writing about for the past three years: Attitude is what this war is about. Not conquest, not foreign aid, not oil interests, not alliances, none of those postmodern silly reasons we're all used to for going to war. This is all a matter of attitude. You know how even a decade ago we'd all internalized the notion of an embattled President sitting in a smoke-filled room, growling, "We don't negotiate with terrorists"? That was the attitude that was understood to be the only sensible course of action, in everything from Star Trek to Saturday-morning superhero cartoons. We don't negotiate with terrorists. Attitude is paramount. Because if you do negotiate with terrorists, if you let your attitude slip, they win. That's all they want, and you're giving it to them.

Now, even as England counsels its citizens to "adopt a submissive posture" when mugged, and give the attacker whatever he wants and don't attempt self-defense at all—we seem to be embarked on a global re-education program to convince the Western world that the solution to any threat is to simply give in to it, buy it off, and then seek justice—if any is to be had—from some paternal body of latent authority. Mugger steals your purse at knife-point? Give it to him and call the cops. Terrorists blow up your buildings? Do whatever they say, then ask the UN to draft a resolution condemning the act.

Spain and the Philippines have shown that they think the best way to respond to terrorists taking their citizens hostage and blowing up their trains is to take the terrorists at their word and fulfill their demands—because hey, then they'll go away and be nice, right?

Those of us who seem to remember something about the inalienable right to self-defense—and about how using terror to achieve one's demands is a tactic that should never, ever be rewarded with success—are finding ourselves more and more alone in the world.

But we remember what a difference attitude makes. We remember our self-defense courses that taught us to strike a threatening posture, to brandish a gun, to make it clear to the mugger that we are not going to be an easy target—which will make him skedaddle, since he's out there looking for easy targets, not to get beat up. And we remember that the absolute last thing you want to do, when attacked by terrorists, is to give even the slightest impression that you're taking their demands seriously. You treat them like vermin. You react with unreasonable force. You make sure they understand that getting you angry is not something they want to do.

There were those of us who wanted to respond to 9/11 by nuking Mecca; and of course, our civilized and tolerant natures won out in the first nanosecond of discussion, and that option was never really taken seriously. Of course it wasn't. But that impulse was there; among serious, intelligent people who understand the nature of war, the desire to mount a response way, way out of proportion with the scale of the attack itself was always there, floating in the back of our minds. It's what made us go to Afghanistan as quickly as practicable after 9/11. It's what made us go to Iraq to sweep out whatever looked like a potential threat. And, well, that's why al Qaeda has been focusing on other countries than the U.S. since then. They know we're not an easy target; and they also know that there are other countries who are.

Sucks to be them; but they know the rules of the game they're playing. Or ought to.

Kerry's approach to the war will be to rein in all our attitude. We'll fold up the tents, call off the dogs, go back to minding our own business like we were doing on 9/10. Those who vote for Kerry because he opposes the war (at heart, even if he tries to take back his words) are specifically voting for this change in our attitude: they want to see us negotiate, form alliances, be friendly and welcoming and forgiving. To adopt a submissive posture. To cower in the alley when the mugger tackles us with a knife, to hand over our purse and then—if we're still alive—to call the cops. Who, no doubt, will put out an APB, much may it threaten the attacker whose face you never saw and who slunk away silently into the shadows with your goods and your dignity.

I don't think the American people as a whole have forgotten what it means to be the belligerent, bristling, broad-shouldered, square-jawed, pugnacious people we once liked to imagine ourselves to be. We still like Popeye better than Captain Planet, after all. It's still in our blood somewhere—even if just in reliquary earthy expressions like "in our blood"—to understand the importance of attitude. Now that the Presidential race, as if there had been any doubt before, has reduced itself to a choice between being badasses or being wusses, I do think more of us will choose the former; because we realize that there's always time to dabble in the arts, but not when the museum is burning down. And you don't wear silk dresses on the city streets at night.

Monday, July 12, 2004
22:48 - I so needed that

This is making the rounds... and let me tell you, it has released a lot of stress all at once.

My sides hurt... but it's all good. Aahhh.

CapLion: "It's amazing how hard it is to type when you're laughing your ass off."

22:01 - Not to be outdone...

"Hey, BMW! Wait up! Don't leave us all behind!"

Jaguar Motor Co. is offering visitors to its X-Type Web site the opportunity to win a limited edition black Apple iPod. There were a total of 75 black iPods made, but there is only one left, which will be given away on August 1, 2004 from Jaguar's Web site.

Mmmm. Black iPod.

"When we started looking at it, we decided what they really needed was to have the movers and shakers adopt this car," Chris Stephenson, CEO of Exposure, told MacCentral. "Knowing that market as we do, by definition those people tend to be more Mac oriented. Mac users are independent in their thinking and they are the people we wanted."

Stephenson decided to focus part of what is an ongoing marketing campaign on the iPod. But having the same iPod that everyone else had wasn't good enough, Stephenson wanted something different, something that was rare.

When Apple launched the last generation iPod, a picture on the Web site showed a backlit iPod with glowing red buttons. The lighting made the iPod appear black; a startling contrast from the normally white casing. While the look of a black iPod generated interest from iPod owners, there never was such a device -- Stephenson decided this was what he needed.

Well, well. The much-sought-after mover-and-shaker youth demographic is identified with Apple! Who'd-a thunk? And I've got to admit, that black iPod does look cool. Certainly better than the Towelie-colored HP-Pod...

But check this out:

By focusing on the Macintosh user base, Stephenson and Jaguar felt they were targeting the exact audience they wanted and needed for the X-Type. The company's Web site never drew much traffic from Mac users in the past, but since the new campaign started, the site has grown considerably.

"The most interesting statistic that came out of this was 72 percent of all our traffic is using Mac OS X," said Stephenson. "People don't think often enough about the value of the Mac audience in marketing campaigns."

Well, sure, there's going to be tons of traffic from Mac geeks who are just checking out the promo because it's been MaCNN/MacCentral/MacInTouch-lanched. But what if there's an element of stark truth to their theory—that there are enough Mac users out there now, just waiting to be courted by an appropriately slick ad campaign, to make companies like Jaguar have to change their whole approach to Web marketing?

17:35 - Philippines beg for mercy

We've often heard people in political statements describe Islam as a "religion of peace". But this is possibly the first time I've heard the word mercy used in such a statement.

DUBAI (Reuters) - The Philippines will withdraw its forces from Iraq “as soon as possible,” Philippine deputy foreign minister Rafael Seguis said on Monday in a statement he read out on al Jazeera television.

“In response to your request, the Philippines ... will withdraw its humanitarian forces as soon as possible,” Seguis said according to al Jazeera’s Arabic translation of his remarks.

His statement was addressed to a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, which is holding a Filipino driver hostage and has threatened to kill him unless Manila agrees to withdraw its troops by July 20.

“I hope the statement that I read will touch the heart of this group,” Seguis told the satellite television from Baghdad.

He declined to give an exact date for the 50 humanitarian troops’ withdrawal, which Manila had insisted would take place by August 20 as earlier scheduled.

Seguis appealed to the group to release their hostage, truck driver Angelo de la Cruz, and added: “We know that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy.”

It's clear why he chose that word: on behalf of his country, he's begging for mercy.

Commenter merav:

The Phillipines and Spain are doing even more than rewarding the terrorists: they're VALIDATING them. They're saying, in effect: "You are right, and our governments are wrong. Your actions are reasonable, and ours are not. You are a religion of mercy and peace; we are savages and warmongers. You have a perfect right to behead our civilians, we filthy infidels have no right to protest, but we appeal to your mercy. You caught us red-handed. We're guilty. We deserve the beheadings. We'll do anything you say. But please bless us with your overflowing mercy. Allah hu-akbar."

Yup. That'll show 'em.

12:10 - Made it!


That's pretty damn cool.

12:04 - But he supports the troops

The USMC has issued a 1000-word review of Fahrenheit 9/11.

11:41 - Do you want to know the awful truth.... or do you want to watch me hit a few dingers?

Via Tim Blair—here we have a full-color illustration of how seriously the Moore Left takes the reality in which we live, painted by Simon Houpt of the Globe and Mail.

All that talk about my lazy American colleagues shirking their responsibility to put the tough questions to Bush made me feel guilty by association. I wanted to prove I couldn't be pushed around like them. So I put a question to Moore, referencing David Denby's New Yorker review of Fahrenheit 9/11, asking something that had bothered me when I saw it.

I appreciated the j'accuse nature of the film, but I wanted to know why it didn't address the dangers of armed Islamic fundamentalism, obsessive anti-Westernism, suicide terrorists, and what Moore thinks would be the proper approach for the U.S. government to legitimately conduct itself in a fight against terrorism. After all, if you're going to criticize measures like the Patriot Act, wouldn't you want to offer an alternative?

Moore took a moment to compose his answer. "Night after night, we are hammered on our television networks and our cable news channels about the Islamic fundamentalists. We've seen it all, we've heard it all," he began, speaking unusually slowly and deliberately. "My job is to say: Maybe there's something else going on, maybe there's another piece of information you should have before making up your mind. Maybe you should see an opposing viewpoint once in a while in this country. The corporate media in this country, they've got control of it 24/7, 365 days of the year. My film is our humble plea: Can we have just two hours for our side?

"The second part of your question is: How do you fight a war against religious fundamentalists? Well, that's what we're doing in this country, and I hope we're successful on November 2."

And the room full of hundreds of sycophantic journalists roared with laughter. Case closed! Shut him down!

What must it be like, to look at a mainstream media in which 7% of journalists describe themselves as "conservative", and conclude that the press is not liberal enough?

And am I reading his reply incorrectly, or is he describing the Islamic fundamentalists as our side?

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© Brian Tiemann