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, July 25, 2004
23:43 - I'm a consumer whore! (And how!)

(top)
On Friday night, we were playing with this—Chris' AirPort Express, which arrived while he's marooned in Australia waiting for his visa to be re-approved. We hooked it up to the downstairs stereo rig that drives the audio for our HDTV and fills the living room with deep and rich sound on whatever rare occasions we decide to crank up a movie that deserves such treatment.

We switched the audio channel over to the AirTunes input, and were streaming one song after another to the big speakers with the subwoofer—many songs in my library I'd never heard on speakers of significant size, so we're still definitely in the middle of the giddy "new Apple toy" phase that accompanies so many such gadgets. We were using the downstairs iMac to stream music down from my G5 upstairs down into the living room, then across the room to the AirPort Express and thence into the stereo; sound quality was awesome, and the convenience was just revelatory.

So as we're doing this, on TV—silently—is playing one of those Discovery Channel shows on the volcanoes and lava flows around the Pacific Rim: the Ring of Fire. Lance and a couple of others were down there watching it, as some rock song or other streamed from my machine; as the show's title scrolled by, Lance started muttering the chorus of the obligatory Johnny Cash song of the same name.

I heard him from my room upstairs. Within a minute, I'd flipped open the iTunes Music Store, found the song, bought it, downloaded it, and queued it up to play. "I fell into a burning ring of fire..." started crooning out of the speakers, on top of the video of Indonesian volcanoes.

Lance came upstairs to tell me I was a smartass.

It's pretty close to the best 99 cents I can remember spending.

UPDATE: White Town's "Your Woman" has a whole lotta bass.


23:13 - Gotta watch those Jetta drivers, man
http://boston.mirror-image.com/newsvideo/softwin/template.html?OAS_pos=SPONSOR2&midd

(top)
Richard Stevens:
Busted.

I see at least one count of using an iSight in an extremely stupid manner, Your Honor...


23:08 - 21st Century House
http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/TV/01/19/tv.amishinthecity.ap/

(top)
I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened:

Network executives are informally calling it "Amish in the City," although they said Sunday the title will likely change.

"To have people who don't have television walk down Rodeo Drive and be freaked out by what they see, I think will be interesting television," said CBS chairman Leslie Moonves, who also oversees UPN. "It will not be denigrating to the Amish."

It's premiering later this month.

That's the thing about reality shows, isn't it: there's no concept for one that you can think of in parody, that won't one day be made into an actual series...


21:20 - At least this doesn't happen in the minors

(top)
Watching the HDTV broadcast of the Yankees/Red Sox game at Fenway this afternoon, we couldn't help but notice how much time the ESPN announcers spent throughout the game talking about John Kerry (who was in the audience, in a luxury box right next to the Red Sox dugout), the Democratic Convention, and how everybody in the city is just drunk with anticipation of the coming week's citywide happytime party. The HD cameras keep flitting back to Kerry to get his ho-ho-ho, I say, hurrah to all that! Smashing defense of the wicket, what? reaction shots to Red Sox homeruns, to the faces of Hollywood big-names who were also in attendance (Ben Affleck, the Meet the Press guy, and others), and to just generally talk about how great Kerry is. They spent a whole half-inning interviewing him instead of covering the game, for Pete's sake.

I know we can't expect such a thing as impartiality from our media, not when they openly admit their biases and stick out their lower lips like, "What? You wanna fighdaboudit?" But come on... there have got to be some corners of the entertainment world that are free of politics, right? I'm not asking for a lot—I don't want political bias in my direction, I just want not to have to worry about stumbling across yet another blankly-grinning knot of Kerry-bots on every channel. I don't want to have to start watching The 700 Club just because I can count on it to cause me less teeth-grinding pain than what's on the rest of the dial.

Last night we were out in Stockton watching a Ports game—single-A ball, in the Rangers system, in a biome all its own both politically and economically—two hours from San Jose, it's a quiet agrarian community where RC Cola has the concession contracts instead of Coke or Pepsi, and where in the parking lot of the stadium, there are actually one or two cars with yellow "Support Our Troops" ribbons and "Bush/Cheney '04" bumper stickers in between all the "Vote Bush Out" and "War Is Not the Answer" ones. And you know? It was great.

This is what it's come to: I'll take cover under country music, nostalgic Route 66 Americana, and outposts of a staid Midwest just to make the noise stop.

It's barely even worth asking whether Kerry thinks he's risking any votes from battleground New York by mugging shamelessly for the HD cameras as a Red Sox fan.

UPDATE: And then there's The Simpsons, which tonight featured Mr. Burns forming a media monopoly and crushing all dissent and protestors, including pure sweet Lisa who dares to speak out under his iron boot. The conclusion, if I'm reading it right, makes fun of bloggers, too.

No more... no more... I'll talk, I'll talk...


14:37 - It's a good time to be a college student
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/9239597.htm

(top)
Steven ran across this—an article in the Contra Costa Times (registration required) that's a general overview of digital music, but with this blinkworthy item buried in the middle:

Ready or not, the changes are coming. Case in point: Duke University announced it's giving iPods to this year's incoming freshmen, complete with downloaded academic information, as well as the ability to store music.

Oh, and I'm sure every student will use it purely for educational purposes.

What is this, Silicon Valley circa 1998? Free Porsche Boxster if you work for us! It reminds me of when I was at Caltech in the mid-90s; SGI, then the unstoppable behemoth of high-end graphics, would park a big-rig, painted jet black, right in the path between the student houses and the Jorgensen Lab (where all the computing clusters were); doors would burst open at both ends of the trailer, spewing steam and dry-ice smoke, and blonde supermodels would waft down the diamond-pattern steel steps and pose in the doorways, backlit with purple lights, and seductively beckon gaping students inside. "There are no men on our planet!" they'd croon. "Come work for SGI!" And students would pour inside, to marvel at the technological wonders showcased within, and—for some—never to come out again.

It isn't that way anymore... by the time I graduated in 1999, SGI had fallen on harder times; the supermodels in the doorways of the trailer had aged a bit, and stood there dispassionately smoking cigarettes under frizzed red hair. "Sorry, the smoke machine's broken this year. We still got that file-manager thing from Jurassic Park, though, if you wanna see it."

But thanks to Apple, the wonderland has returned to the campus. At least to Duke. So far.

UPDATE: By the way, who else has iPods? Well, Lance Armstrong, the Bush daughters, and every one of the finalists on the Celebrity World Poker Championships...

Friday, July 23, 2004
19:31 - Buh
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/the_valley/9

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Now here's something that makes me really sit up and take notice:

Toymaker Hasbro's popular Transformers - which include characters Optimus Prime and Megatron - will soon be seen on the silver screen.

DreamWorks, co-founded by Steven Spielberg, will oversee the live-action movie, scheduled for release in summer 2006, it was announced Friday.

"Steven and everyone at DreamWorks are very excited about the prospect of expanding the world of Transformers into the live-action feature film arena. The possibilities for a thrilling action adventure are virtually endless, and a film holds the definite promise of expanding an already worldwide fan base to new audiences," Adam Goodman, DreamWorks head of production, said in a statement.

And here's more from IGN:

IGN FilmForce has learned that the live-action feature film version of The Transformers will indeed be a DreamWorks project, which confirms rumors that appeared online earlier this week. DreamWorks Pictures has inked a deal with toy king Hasbro to make The Transformers; Paramount Pictures will handle the foreign rights. Also confirming earlier Web buzz, DreamWorks honcho Steven Spielberg did indeed use his personal relationship with Hasbro founder Alan Hassenfeld to bring The Transformers over to DreamWorks.

Even better, Hasbro and DreamWorks have agreed to get Transformers going very quickly, with a 2006 release date already set!

Furthermore, G.I. Joe producer Lorenzo DiBonaventura may become involved with the project in some capacity on behalf of Paramount. Don Murphy and Tom DeSanto are already onboard to produce Transformers. Expect the trades to confirm this report sometime very soon.

IGN FilmForce has been able to sneak a peek at a press release which includes quotes from producers DeSanto and Murphy. "Like X-Men, Transformers offers an amazing mythology with all the elements to create a successful ongoing franchise, iconic characters, global themes, and a world that has never been seen before on screen," said DeSanto. "We hope that this will be the first in a franchise that is embraced by fans and newcomers alike."

It's the age of the superhero movie, where at last there's nothing you can dream up that can't be put on the big screen—where if you can do Lord of the Rings, there's no excuse for shying away from tackling anything else. I guess it was only a matter of time for this to happen. With Spielberg at the helm, it's bound to at least be big, and to have more than a chance at being good.

The question, of course, remains whether it will become iconic, like the original movie—which no serious critic would describe as being particularly good, but whose every cel and every note of the soundtrack is a time capsule that takes a fan instantly into a world of irrational nostalgic bliss. Can a DreamWorks budget and a Spielbergian script achieve what Eric Idle's Wreck-Gar or the phrase "Jazz to Moon Base Two" did as though by accident?

Thanks to Michael K. for the links!


18:34 - Now I'm a believer

(top)
Back in April, I was fairly skeptical of the whole media-bias meme. I hadn't read the relevant exposés on the subject; and what's more, I hadn't paid much attention to the big media outlets for a long time, so I figured I didn't have a basis for judgment. But I did still get Newsweek, and I guess at the time I still hadn't been in a habit of reading it with an eye out for unfair characterizations. I looked at each issue in a vacuum, and ignored any trends I might have noticed in what they chose to cover week upon week. So I never really noticed anything untoward.

But I'd begun by that time to suspect that the rumors I'd heard were true; what with dishonesty scandals breaking from CNN to the New York Times, I figured I'd best start narrowing my eyes a little harder at the pages I casually flipped through while in the bathroom.

So on 4/30, I posted this:

The way I see it, there are two possibilities for what Newsweek will use as the world-shattering cover story on next week's issue:

1) UNSCAM. [The story then about a week old]
2) This. [The Abu Ghraib story, which had just broken]

Ooh! Ooh! I know! Teacher pick me!

Looking back on this naïve version of myself, from three months on, I can only sit and ruefully laugh. How could I even have imagined that a scandal in which the UN thoroughly disgraced itself and deflated any lingering presuppositions of its humanitarianism and extranational integrity might be able to upstage a story about some bored National Guardsmen fucking up in a war-zone prison? What made me think they would even be in the same ballpark? As I wrote the post, I half-expected to be proven wrong—that the media would blow the cover off UNSCAM, recognizing the truly monstrous level of global-scale betrayal that it implied, and realizing the pointlessness and inherent divisiveness of spending too much time on Abu Ghraib. I actually thought the mainstream media would see UNSCAM as the bigger story, put aside pretensions of kingmaking, and do its job.

Even three months ago I had no idea, quite honestly, how firmly these media organs had planted their flags.

Oh, the disillusionment.

So now Dean asks:
Rather Biased notes that CBS news has run exactly one story on Sandy Berger and that it sided with Berger. It ran one story on Joe Wilson's recent credibility problems, and suggested he was the victim of a smear job. It has run not one single story on the UN Oil-for-Food scandal, or about Jamie Gorelick. But it has found the time to run 80 stories about Iraqi prisoner abuse and 29 on Wilson's accusations of Republican malfeasance.

Why do people even bother watching CBS news?

The April version of me might have feebly tried to suggest something about how maybe the color scheme in Dan Rather's tie is better than Tom Brokaw's, or something; but today? I think the answer's pretty damn obvious:

Because it's fundamentally dishonest and partisan. Which is what the viewership demands.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
22:23 - There's the truth... and there's The Truth!
http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html?uc_full_date=20040721

(top)
Of all the subject matter Garry Trudeau could have chosen for Doonesbury this week, is anybody out there surprised that he'd pick OutFoxed?

Trudeau seems to really be reaching for his satiric muse, though, and she may be getting tired of having been groped so often. Here's today's strip:



Now, let me just be sure I'm understanding this right: An editor sends out a memo to professional journalists that asks them not to editorialize... and Trudeau sees this as evidence of an agenda?

So he's saying that the only way for journalists not to be biased is for them to feel free to "mourn the loss of U.S troops and wonder out loud why we're there"? The only way for journalists not to be biased is to editorialize? Am I getting this right, Garry?

Ye gods. He really is far gone, isn't he? But yet this strip, at first reading, sounds damning, doesn't it? As long as you don't think too hard about it.

This is another prime example of those pernicious and malleable sound bites that are only scandalous if you announce them in just the right tone of voice. It's exactly like Michael Moore's snide comments about Bush finishing reading My Pet Goat with those third-graders for seven minutes after hearing about the second tower being hit. If the school's principal relates that tale, audience members well might say, "What a guy!" and "Those poor kids—good for Bush, letting them finish having their special moment, instead of going crazy right there in the room!" and "Now that's being calm and collected—imagine how sick he must have felt inside, yet he did what he knew was important!" But if Moore describes the scene, using the same words but adding a sneering tone and an ominous soundrack, the audience says, "What an idiot!" and "He's incompetent!" and "I'll bet he was in on it!"

By that same technique does Garry Trudeau guide his readers into a mindset where a memo from Fox's top editors asking his anchorpeople not to dish on-camera about how the war is wrong is grand evidence of the dread evil of Rupert Murdoch's extremist, worse-than-al-Jazeera propaganda network.

Jeez. I almost hope this isn't the worst of the slings and arrows that OutFoxed has to hurl, because it's pretty frickin' pathetic.


19:51 - Again, not that it matters
http://coldfury.com/index.php?p=4668

(top)
Mike at Cold Fury:

From the 9/11 commission, heard on the radio just now: “There is no question whatsoever that there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.” As if any justification beyond the several others for removing Saddam had ever been needed, there it is as plain as it can be made. And may all the antiwarriors choke on it.

Woebegone contrite retractions from the “Bush liiied!” crowd now gleefully accepted; all hair shirt coupons cheerfully honored. No other discounts, no returns, no rain checks.

God, it must absolutely suck to be a lib here lately.

Oh, no. All this means is that the 9/11 Commission is just a Bush Administration tool after all, just like everyone else who suggests that the war might have been a good idea. Even though a month ago the 9/11 Commission was being paraded around in front of us as the Righteous Instrument of Bush's Destruction.

Mike's correct in that in order to be on the Left and claim to have a consistent moral and intellectual position on Bush and the war, you have to have an attention span no longer than a week, so you can dismiss Joe Wilson and the Sixteen Words as "yesterday's news", and so if you can wait out the Sandy Berger thing until the end of the month without the complict media even mentioning it, us dumb Americans will all just forget, forget, forget. Whereas, to the best of my admittedly self-interested knowledge, I and other pro-war bloggers have maintained precisely the same arguments ever since the beginning: Iraq is a strategic goal, an opportunity to seed liberal democracy in the Middle East, a way to put pressure on Iran and Saudi Arabia from close proximity while being able to stabilize the oil supply and keep it from being used as a weapon against us, a chance to remove a brutal dictator, free the Arabs under his thumb, and give them a view of a benevolent America rather than the monstrous one they've always seen on al-Jazeera, and to eliminate any potential threat of WMD proliferation by a crazed neo-Saladin. (More or less in that order.) These were my justifications in the summer of 2002; these were my justifications on March 21, 2003; these were my justifications on April 10, 2003; these were my justifications as we unearthed fighter jets buried in sand dunes and absorbed IED attacks using sarin bombs; these were my justifications as we faced a distinct lack of any major stockpiles of banned weapons; these were my justifications as the Abu Ghraib story broke; and these were my justifications on the day Allawi's government assumed sovereignty. I guess that makes me stubborn, or lacking in nuance or something. Well, call it that if you want to, but my word for it is being right. That's what we call it in engineering, when you don't have to keep changing your vision to fit reality.

Eh—I dunno. For some people it's just fun not to have to stick with one idea for more than a week, so it's just as well that events keep the ball in motion. More power to 'em. Just not before November 2nd.


17:24 - Well, it's not like it matters after all
http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000102.html

(top)
Yay! Bill Whittle's back! Sort of.

But though his latest post isn't one of his capital-E Essays, it does have this observation:

The best thing about Eject! Eject! Eject!, of course, is that it gives me a voice. It puts me in the fight. The worst thing about Eject! Eject! Eject! is that that voice obligates you to stay in the fight. And when you feel like you are a part of the fight, it is very, very hard not to be swinging all the time. In the car on the way home. Watching the news. Overhearing a conversation in the next room. And even with all the energy and stamina you can muster, sometimes you need to hear that bell and sit down for those precious sixty seconds. Not throw in the towel. Just sit down, spit in a bucket, and try to get the idea of hitting hard and getting hit back out of your head for a few precious moments. Unclench your fists. Breathe.

....Yeah. No kidding.

Bill has the courage to hang it up for seven weeks at a time, though, and that's more than I can say for me. Ah well—at least I'm still enjoying the process, even if it doesn't particularly look that way on certain days.


15:54 - DEFCON 5, all is clear, let's go fly a kite
http://washtimes.com/national/20040721-101403-1508r.htm

(top)
So the mystery has been solved about the bizarre Syrian musicians who behaved on their flight to San Diego as though they were trying at all costs to make everyone on the plane think they were about to become hijack victims. Turns out all's well, there's no reason for anyone to have worried, and the passengers who thought there was something odd about Middle Eastern men queueing up en masse at the lavatory, passing weird paper bags back and forth to each other, and making little hand signals to each other over their Qurans are just paranoid. Racist too, I'm sure.

But that's just one of the stories of airsickness coming out these days, and the Washington Times has a good roundup of them.

A second pilot said that, on one of his recent flights, an air marshal forced his way into the lavatory at the front of his plane after a man of Middle Eastern descent locked himself in for a long period.

The marshal found the mirror had been removed and the man was attempting to break through the wall. The cockpit was on the other side.

But I'm sure he was just a musician on his way to a gig. Or a real estate agent. Or a Palm salesman. Any one of whom probably had perfectly good reasons to try to break through the bulkhead from the lavatory into the cockpit he frickin' tried to BREAK into the COCKPIT THROUGH THE BATHROOM WALL and we're only finding out about it NOW, as part of a SURVEY?!

Eh. But why worry? As everyone knows, the terror alert system is a big sham, a tool of the Bush Administration's scheme to keep us all programmed into a state of terrified torpor by a manufactured, fictional "threat", and hateful and fearful of innocent Arabs and Muslims in our midst.

Now let's forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream!


15:37 - The funny papers
http://vodkapundit.com/archives/006239.php

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"Fisking Dowd," says commenter Conrad, "is ungallant. It's like beating up yor baby sister."

Yeah, well, whatever. Sometimes it just can't be avoided.

As I keep saying, people these days seem to like to get their political opinions via osmosis from whatever prevailing winds blow from the comedian's stage. I don't think it's too much to imagine that at least as many politically-minded people read the New York Times for Maureen Dowd's staggeringly obtuse editorial insights as for the front-page headlines where the bias is limited to which facts can be trumpeted and which can be hidden away, depending.

So when one of her columns appears, how can someone like Stephen Green not instantly sling spidey-webs all over it?

It's well worth a read. But, as with most things of this nature, only those who already wish to see Dowd punctured and jetting flatulently around the room will enjoy it, or see it at all.


14:00 - There but for the grace of God
http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=3809

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Via Dean Esmay and Bill Quick, a cautionary set of statistics about where the best of intentions may lead:

Health care can have a zero price to the user, but that doesn't mean it's free or has a zero cost. The problem with a good or service having a zero price is that demand is going to exceed supply. When price isn't allowed to make demand equal supply, other measures must be taken. One way to distribute the demand over a given supply is through queuing -- making people wait. Another way is to have a medical czar who decides who is eligible, under what conditions, for a particular procedure -- for example, no hip replacement or renal dialysis for people over 70 or no heart transplants for smokers.

I'm wondering just how many Americans would like Canada's long waiting lists, medical czars deciding what treatments we get and an exodus of doctors.

You can look at either of two things: a) the fact that at least nobody has to pay up front for this health care, regardless of ability; or b) in which direction people sneak across the border for it.

It's an observation that many, but yet too few, made regarding Soviet socialism and the Berlin Wall, and about Cuba. Sure, they had da free health care and da 100% literacy on the other side of da wall. Why, then, oh why doesn't anyone take a raft to Havana or jump the fence Eastward when they need a CAT scan or a better life for their children? Why's everyone going the other direction?

Yet something tells me that we won't learn this lesson until we've tried changing our system to match what's never worked in the past. I guess we oughtta get some points for optimism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
19:13 - Written into a corner
http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/APIWar.html

(top)
A long and interesting article by Joel Spolsky, heavy on the technical details and on the high-altitude orienteering, on the rather unenviable position Microsoft finds itself in today. According to him, Microsoft's attempts throughout the years to standardize APIs under its own control have backfired—"The new API is HTML, and the new winners in the application development marketplace will be the people who can make HTML sing."

Sent by Kris, who says:

Interesting. This gives more insight into why Microsoft is losing the security wars. Total spaghetti code. Lots of OS code exceptions for any major flaw in other applications. Multiple complex ways of doing the same thing. Warring factions.

I know that Apple has some of the same characteristics. I know personally of spaghetti patch code in the OS 9 era. "Back-patches". Shudder! OS X is a much cleaner, more long term implementation. Apple also doesn't suffer (as much) from internal group competition and seems to have better control on internal development direction. Apple will sacrifice older applications in the name of forward progress, one thing that Microsoft does well is backward compatibility. But for how much longer? The WinFX file system could be a problem for older programs expecting a traditional file system layout.

I think the words "next generation" must be a dirty word at Microsoft—because with the installed base they've got, every "next generation" implies yet another "previous generation" that they can't afford to let go of. I know they've got all kinds of cool stuff going on in the blue-sky labs in Redmond, but none of it will ever see the light of day. It can't. Wall-sized touch-screens where if you gesture to move an icon into a far corner, it figures out what vector you're moving it on and what destination you probably have in mind, and then balloons the destination icon (like, say, the Recycle Bin) in towards you as though on rubber bands, and snaps it back into place when you drop the icon into its place? Fascinating, but this world is still just getting comfortable with the Start menu.

Apple's guardian angel is its small market share, which allows it to leap forward into unknown territory without having to worry that it's alienating hundreds of millions of users. That and its benevolent-dictator corporate model...


17:30 - Dumpster diving

(top)
Gee, it's been some time since I posted any of the fascinating insights from the ever-illuminating Ar-Rahman list, hasn't it?

Well, let's rectify that situation:

| assalaam u alaikum
| r marriages permissable between relatives? like i have a
| daughter i want her to get married either with my
| brother's son or my sister's son ? is it correct
| according to islamic rules? and if yes has it any
| scientific disadvantage.

Walaikumas salaam,

Islam permits inter-family marriages (pls refer to Sura Al-Nisa) where clear definations are present as to who we can & who we can't marry. It is amazing that whilst the Quran does not specify how to offer prayers (salah) how to perform Hajj how to observe fast during ramadhan it very clearly in details talk on the subject of marriage and women rights. However please be clear that the prospective bride & groom are happy with the arrangement.

 As far as scientific disadvantages are concerned I am from the medical/scientific background and yes there are disease which are passed on genetically however there is no proven analysis/data whether this is highly prevalent amongst inter-family marriages. All I can say is if you marry within the gene pool you are aware of you can take precautions relating to ceratin disease like heart/diabetic etc but what is the surety that outside the family gene pool does not have these or worse ailments?

Regards
Riaz

Ahh. Mm. I see.

Once again, my blinkered Westernized philosophy has imprisoned my thinking. Thank you, Riaz, "from the medical/scientific background", for showing me the way. I brim with tolerance and understanding.

Just like Nicholas Kristof, whose op-ed in the New York Times a few days ago was also forwarded gleefully to the list.

"Jesus merely raised one hand a few inches and a yawning chasm opened in the earth, stretching far and wide enough to swallow all of them. They tumbled in, howling and screeching, but their wailing was soon quashed and all was silent when the earth closed itself again."

These are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The latest is "Glorious Appearing," which has Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet. It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.

If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of "Glorious Appearing" and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit. We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture, and it's time to remove the motes from our own eyes.

I wonder if Kristof is familiar with the meaning of the word "ethnic" (or "mote"). Or has heard a typical Friday sermon from Mecca or Damascus.

UPDATE: George H. has done me one better. Man, go nuts—this I'd love to see.


16:25 - They learn well
http://www.playbill.com/news/article/87446.html

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Far too well.

Just like the terrorists do.

They know how to push it, just far enough, until society pushes back against them—then they whimper about being persecuted and repressed until everybody leaves them alone. Then they push harder.

Just like the terrorists do.

They know that all they have to do is provoke a response—any response—and they win all battles at once, moral, political, tactical, strategic. They know that they've paralyzed their opponents into cowering immobility.

Just like the terrorists do.

They even know they're frickin' insane. But they also know a little insanity is justified, for the sake of the greater good.

Just like the terrorists do.

We had better $%^#$! not give any of these people any reason to celebrate on November 2nd.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
02:30 - Good on you
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007232.php

(top)
Thank you, Australia, for being one of only six sane countries apparently left on Earth.


19:57 - The language of poetry

(top)
I wasn't gonna post this, but... well, I guess I'm just a bastard that way. Besides, it's too good not to.



Hey, at least I blurred it.


17:41 - Oh help. Oh my. Save me from the vicious iPod-killer. Wooo.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1623828,00.asp

(top)
PC Magazine has compared six iPod-clones against the iPod itself, and—gasp!—declared the iPod to come in second. To the iRiver H140.

And yet, inexplicably, maddeningly, the techno-hipster world keeps marching along, lemming-like, to the ubiquitous iPod's beat. Aaahh! Why won't they wake up and realize which is the superior product?

Geez, this shoe feels weird on the other foot.


16:24 - Ulan Bataar Awaits
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=11788_Ronstadt-_America_=_Weimar_Repub

(top)
Words fail me.

“It’s a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I’d rather not know. . .”

[said Linda Ronstadt.]

The state of the nation: “I saw a movie recently about a camel and these people in Mongolia, and I relate to them better than people here in this country. It looks like (Germany’s) Weimar Republic to me here.”

They don't fail Moore, though:

In a statement directed at Mr Timmins, Michael Moore said: "For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film is simply stupid and un-American."

Oh yeah, I thought I'd heard something about people in this country getting called "un-American" for expressing dissenting views.

The LGF commenters are having a field day. But the best one yet:

I don't know how much more of this progressive tolerance and love I can take.

Mmph.


15:32 - Does Outpost know something we don't?
http://shop1.outpost.com/product/15588

(top)
Hey, look what Kris found while browsing for AMD processors:



I don't get it. What is this? Where am I? What's my name? Hello-o-o?


04:07 - Pants! Pants! Sing the praises of pants
http://vodkapundit.com/archives/006195.php

(top)
Stephen Green has the silliest, and yet most lavishly apt reaction yet to the revelation about Sandy Berger, Clinton's NSA advisor, hiding documents about Osama bin Laden and counseling Clinton not to pursue him.

Some are calling this a "Watergate-sized scandal". But if this becomes as big as Watergate—nay, hell, if it becomes as big as Abu Ghraib—I'll retract any aspersions I have made about the slanted media.

And if not, well...

Monday, July 19, 2004
22:54 - Now that's just cool

(top)
Here's the latest iPod updater's "About" box, which appears when you get done installing it:



Such elegantly manicured graphics, for such an obscure purpose. This is what makes Apple Apple.

Too bad, though, that there's no new version of the software for my iPod—it's still at 2.2. No one-click shuffle control for me... bah.


22:00 - Life imitates art
http://instapundit.com/archives/016630.php

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So we've got Arnie quite literally kicking all kinds of ass all around the State; he's got 70% of California cozying up to him just to bask in his glow (as opposed to the reported 30% approval rating for the State Assembly), he's restored California's credit rating and got the Davis budget under control, he's declared war on bloodsucking trial lawyers and frivolous lawsuits by proposing gigantic taxes on punitive damages, and he's done it all with a slickness even Clinton could never match. And now, as he starts to unveil his grand master plan for a complete political overhaul of the State's intractably byzantine legislative system, he slips into character to deliver the coup de grace:

But the governor was engaged in a lot more than just sound-bite politics. His spokesman indicated he was seriously considering sponsoring initiatives to both change the entrenched legislature to part-time status and to redraw California’s gerrymandered political districts. “This weekend, the budget fight stopped being about local government and started being about major political reform,” said Dan Schnur, a GOP political consultant.

The California electorate is hungry for such change, and the governor had large crowds in three cities eating out of his hand. “I want you to go out there and go after those Democratic legislators. Vote them out of office, and we will put new faces in there,” he said in Stockton. The audience in Ontario went wild when he launched into a description of how legislators catered to special interests: “If they don’t have the guts to come up here in front of you and say, ‘I don’t want to represent you, I want to represent those special interests, the unions, the trial lawyers, and I want them to make the millions of dollars—if they don’t have the guts, I call them girlie men.”

Needless to say, the crowd loved it. And what lesson do we take from this? Not that Arnie is a great politician, though he may well be; but that after all the smoke has settled, it appears that this dirty little secret may be showing its face after all: we Californians actually did vote for a character, not a politician. Or at least in part. We might as well face it: we didn't hire him to be just another vague, harmless, compromising diplodoormat with a set of mild moderate views and a charcoal-gray suit; we hired him to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were fed up with Gray Davis and bureaucracy-as-usual, and wanted someone to come bursting in, guns blazing, and take out the trash. No more PC bullshit, we said; just get in here and kick some ass. We might have convinced ourselves that we were punching the ballot for "Mr. Schwarzenegger", but the image in our minds was the T-100.

But is this such a bad thing? When we vote for a politician who's already typecast a certain way, as an action hero or a football player or a cowboy, we do it with a certain gut feeling that the person will execute the office in a way that's informed by the role in which we picture him. We've done it before. And it doesn't seem to be beyond the realm of possibility that the politician in question actually will decide, as Arnie seems to have done here, to play the role to the hilt. If the public wants the Terminator, he thinks, or the musclebound caricature of him from SNL—well then, that's what he'll be.

Damn if it isn't working.

But this is the best bit, straight from the self-parodying, "can dish it out but can't take it" files:

Democrats responded that the remark was sexist, anti-gay and bullying...

Ha! HAAAH! HAAA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha HAAAAAAAA! <snerk> HEEEE hee hee hee heeheeheeheeheeee heh heh heh. <snort> Pbbbbbtttttt. Ha ha ha HAAAAAAAA HAW HAW HAW Hhhheeheeheeeeee. <wiping tears> Hee hee hee hee HAAA HA HA HAAAAAH!

Oh, Lord have mercy, that's just beautiful.


17:25 - "They have guns, you know"
http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110005369

(top)
This is an awesome read. Witness the difference between the small towns of Stewart and Hyder, on opposite sides of the international boundary in Alaska's panhandle, become acquainted with someone by the name of GOVERNMENT AGENT, and learn the meaning of thumos.

In every language in which we have tested this, "frontier" means something nearly opposite to its American sense. The French Larousse gives only one meaning for frontière, and that is the border between two nations--which in an oft-invaded country like France conjures up danger rather than opportunity. In Mandarin Chinese the term is bian jie or "boundary." In Cantonese, the word for frontier is huang di, which carries a negative connotation of "wilderness" or "wasteland." A frontier is a barren hardship post, not a place of opportunities, explains a Chinese colleague.

Russians have a very similar attitude toward frontiers. A Russian who discovered that one of these authors maintains his judicial chambers in Alaska blurted out, "Why were you sent?" The idea that there might be appeal in an assignment on America's Alaskan frontier seemed incomprehensible to him.

During America's expansion westward, frontier transformed into the very opposite of a boundary or limit. Its primary meaning in American English came to be a "boundless realm of possibility." Indeed some foreign dictionaries call this meaning of "frontier" an "Americanism."

There's way too much to quote, so just read it all. It's just fascinating. Oh, and it's by a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which I'd been led to believe doesn't think like this at all... what's up with that?


15:44 - This is what happens when you stop worshipping the Sun
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/07/18/wsun18.xml&sSheet=/n

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It gets mad and heats up.

Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.

A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.

Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.

"The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."

Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.

. . .

Dr Gareth Jones, a climate researcher at the Met Office, said that Dr Solanki's findings were inconclusive because the study had not incorporated other potential climate change factors.

"The Sun's radiance may well have an impact on climate change but it needs to be looked at in conjunction with other factors such as greenhouse gases, sulphate aerosols and volcano activity," he said. The research adds weight to the views of David Bellamy, the conservationist. "Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth," he said. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.

"Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock."

Better not say that too loudly, Doctor, or our new gods might hear you and have you "disappeared".


15:22 - Señor Moore no es macho, es solamente un borracho
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=501&ncid=716&e=7&u=/ap/20040719/ap_o

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Wow. It's the Dixie Chicks all over again:

LAS VEGAS - Singer Linda Ronstadt not only got booed, she got the boot after lauding filmmaker Michael Moore and his new movie “Fahrenheit 9/11” during a performance at the Aladdin hotel-casino.

Before singing “Desperado” for an encore Saturday night, the 58-year-old rocker called Moore a “great American patriot” and “someone who is spreading the truth.” She also encouraged everybody to see the documentary about President Bush.

Ronstadt’s comments drew loud boos and some of the 4,500 people in attendance stormed out of the theater. People also tore down concert posters and tossed cocktails into the air.

“It was a very ugly scene,” Aladdin President Bill Timmins told The Associated Press. “She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose.”

Timmins, who is British and was watching the show, decided Ronstadt had to go — for good. Timmins said he didn’t allow Ronstadt back in her luxury suite and she was escorted off the property.

Bewilderingly enough, the audience didn't appear to have been induced to act in this way by armed Secret Service agents lining the aisles. I'm sure Elton John and Whoopi Goldberg will continue scratching their heads over this inexplicable, maddening behavior, even as it begins to become a pattern as we recognize that Hollywood and the entertainment industry as a bloc have become thoroughly, dangerously, disconnected from the reality we cherish.

I know which casino will get my money next time I'm in Vegas.

Via LGF, which has a ton of juicy stuff today. No, more than usual, which is saying something.

UPDATE: of course, people are already yammering that Ronstadt's "First Amendment Rights" are being curtailed. Guys, I hate to be a broken MP3 file, but new rule: You have to have READ the First Amendment before you invoke it in an indignant statement of purpose.

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.

Not a word in there about how if a performer, hired to sing, says something political and unpopular, her audience is prohibited from booing her off the stage. Congress is the only thing that the First Amendment applies to. Congress! And there's no word on whether any members of Congress were in attendance at the Aladdin, or wrote down new laws against Ronstadt before cramming them in bottles and hurling them at her head.

In other words, the First Amendment does not even apply here.

The First Amendment is a presumption that there are no laws curtailing free speech, except common-sense ones like about yelling "Movie" in a crowded firehouse. It's a prohibition against the federal government making any new such laws. Got that? It's about making new laws, not about directing how private citizens may argue with each other or decide freely whom to support with their time and their dollars.

You want balance? You want democracy? Then everybody gets their say. Not just the ones you happen to agree with. Don't miss Sparkey's vivid illustration of this pernicious little meme at work.

And incidentally, this reminds me: what if, instead of our First Amendment, we had something like Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

a) freedom of conscience and religion;
b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d) freedom of association.

Since this language is vaguely worded in the positive, rather than crafted as a specific prohibition against the federal government—do you suppose this little event might have gone down differently? Would Timmins have had the "right" to boot Ronstadt out? After all, she has the fundamental freedom to say what she wants, right? Does this language enjoin just the government, or private citizens too? What does it actually mean?

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© Brian Tiemann