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, September 19, 2004
15:49 - Denial of the conspiracy is the surest sign that it exists

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Huh boy... I really don't know whether I should laugh or cry. As long as I can be sure that this really is the form the Left's death throes will take this election season, and that they won't be rewarded for this kind of insanity with a victory at the polls.

See, what's apparently happening is that now that all the big media outlets (except for CBS) have acknowledged that the Killian memos are fakes, they're shifting to a hysterical wave of finger-pointing, to try to figure out where they came from—and of course it couldn't have been one of their own, pure as the driven snow that they are. The prime suspects, of course, are Bush and Karl Rove, in an ingenious insidious ploy that has used the blogosphere and the mainstream media both as musical instruments in the hands of some Satanic virtuoso.

How does one come to believe that this is how "the other side" works? How does one come to believe in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy? How does a magazine like Time descend so far into madness to headline an upcoming exposé, "Bush Campaign Keeping Close Eye on Blogs, Using Them To Mainline Information to the G.O.P. Faithful" (via LGF)? I mean, I know I have never been contacted by dark-suited operatives offering to feed me information manufactured or illegally purloined so as to thwart the Kerry campaign. I can't imagine Powerline or LGF or InstaPundit being similarly "mainlined", mostly because these guys write the way they think: carefully. Maybe I'm just isolated in some odd islet of unconventional thought with the rest of these guys, but I've always been under the impression that the widely-read right-wing bloggers are such because of their own reasoning, not because of what they're being told to believe by GOP operatives.

After all, LGF points out that the likes of Matthew Yglesias see nothing wrong with explicitly mentioning the names of people in the Daschle office and Kerry campaign who are "mainlining" the Left side of the blogosphere with powdered dirt. So apparently it's just assumed that there's a similar force directing the right-wing blogs like marionettes, but it's just too shadowy and sinister for us to give it its name. We couldn't, of course, have been clever enough on our own to, say, recognize the Killian memos as fakes without a "highly technical" dossier on them being fed into the Freepersphere by a top-hatted undercover agent by the name of "Buckhead". Without that analysis we'd never have seen those stupid Word printouts for what they were.

I could choose to be insulted that the other side would think us so gullible and dependent upon outside help; or I could choose to be disappointed that they think the things we believe are so untenable that we have to have superiors feeding us intravenously with distilled "talking points" to regurgitate; or I could choose to be saddened that they apparently do have to have such top-down direction, without which their narrative rapidly shakes itself to pieces, between calling a scandal "no big deal" and then jumping up and down about the conspiracy that must be in charge of such a devastating blow to their credibility.

What is there to do but sit and slowly shake one's head back and forth?

Saturday, September 18, 2004
01:59 - Arrrr
http://grant.henninger.name/iPatch/

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The day be upon us, says I.




00:57 - A little down-home cookin'
http://www.captainsquartersblog.com/mt/archives/002554.php

(top)
Captain Ed has a real masterpiece of a post up. It seriously must be read to be believed.

I wouldn't sully its perfection by presuming to excerpt it.


23:03 - The trap is sprung
http://news.myway.com/top/article/id/427395|top|09-18-2004::15:09|reuters.html

(top)
So:

"There are a lot of questions about the documents and they need to be answered," Bush told the Union Leader newspaper of Manchester, New Hampshire, after a week in which some experts questioned whether the documents had been fabricated by those seeking to damage Bush in his re-election race.

"I think what needs to happen is people need to take a look at the documents, how they were created, and let the truth come out," Bush added.

You don't suppose George W. Bush is more familiar with the output of Microsoft Word than Dan Rather is, do you?


19:40 - Celsius 41.11
http://www.citizensunited-interactive.org/C41.11/

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I doubt this will hit screens like F9/11 did; but check it out online, at the very least. Celsius 41.11, a refutationof Moore's movie—one of many in the works, it seems—has a trailer that's pretty dang powerful. Go and see.

Check out the protester woman explaining why she likes Saddam Hussein:

When you talk about a "dictator", well, there's pros and there's cons.
If a dictator provides free health care, then I like that dictator!
If a dictator provides university and education for everyone, then I like that dictator!

Ah, the old free-health-care-and-literacy argument in favor of socialist dictators everywhere. People love 'em because the socialist part is so attractive that it makes them forget all about the dictator part. The promise of free admittance into hospitals and universities excuses all else.

Isn't it amazing how cheaply some people are willing to sell their humanity?

UPDATE: Paul Denton has comments.


12:27 - We need a 35-inch Cinema Display that fits on your wrist

(top)
Just a random thought about the new iMac:

How many people do you suppose will complain that the big expanse of white below the screen could have been used for more screen, in a non-widescreen format?


12:24 - That eye no longer seems like a reassuring symbol

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Friday, September 17, 2004
13:09 - I still want one
http://www.iht.com/articles/539149.html

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Steven sends this quite positive review of the new iMac, in the International Herald Tribune. (Well, of course it's positive—it's by David Pogue. But then, not even every Mac partisan was thrilled with the old iMac.) It rightly presents the thing from the "Okay, we may as well try to capitalize on the styling cues of the iPod now" angle, as well as pointing out that this design is far from radical—other computer makers have done all-in-ones like this numerous times before. (In fact, Apple's done it too.) But it also stands a fairly good chance of succeeding. True, it doesn't have the whole "Luxo" vibe that accompanied the old desk-lamp model into the limelight; you can't animate the new one sticking its tongue out at people or limbo-ing on the beach. But you can just show it to someone and have him completely "get it", and understand that this is really all there is to the computer. Just the "screen". Which is a compelling concept; many people, I know from experience, have no idea what the big box part of a computer is really even for. It's just this big noisy thing that you stick disks into; the monitor is what a lot of people think of as the "computer", because hey, it's what's always at eye level, and it's what you interact with. And this one has the undeniably bigger screen, and is just as easy to move around on your desk—without having to have a 20-pound weight inserted in the base to help counterbalance a big 20-inch screen.

There's also a pretty eye-opening downside:

There's been some online griping about the placement of the new iMac's connectors - three USB, two FireWire, Ethernet, modem, optical audio output, TV output and so on. They are arranged vertically on the back.

"No wonder Apple's iMac photos never show anything plugged in, like printers, cameras or iPods," goes the complaint. "The dangling cords would destroy the futuristic purity of the hovering-screen look."

Indeed. That's a lot of connector jacks down the right side of the screen. I'm sure Apple's trying to build on the tradition of having keyboard/mouse connectors in that region of the backs of their LCD monitors; but, well, look at this. That's not just a couple of USB jacks. It's everything. And once your speakers, camcorder, digicam, iPod, keyboard/mouse, iSight, joystick, Ethernet/modem, and headphones are all plugged in, this thing's going to look like a mummy dragging chains, especially if you try to adjust the screen tilt. (Having industrial-looking items like the Ethernet cable dangling through space like that is going to be a big uglifying factor.)

Perhaps it would have been better if Apple had arranged the ports along the bottom center of the screen unit, so the cables would at least be hidden behind the stand, or routed through another hole in it. True, they're more accessible this way; but there's also definitely a case to be made for keeping them out of the way, especially if Apple plans to have these iMacs become stars in the white-and-brushed-chrome postmodern foyers of evil corporations in Hollywood films for the next few years. Maybe they should have allowed the base stand to be half an inch high or so, so the connectors could all be reflected down into the base through a more complex coupling at the pivot. Or, as Steven suggests, maybe they could have had a second thick cable coming from the screen unit to a satellite port-reflector box, into which you'd then plug everything. However, these ideas kinda throw a monkey-wrench into that confusingly fun feature of the iMac, the fact that you can remove the screen unit from the stand altogether, making it into a corded laptop with separate keyboard, or a non-functioning tablet PC. Who knows where they plan to go with that. But at least it does tell us, as does the fact that they managed to internalize the power supply into the unit (hallelujah!), that a G5-based laptop can't be that far off.

Pogue being Pogue, he also doggedly points out that $1300 really isn't that much to pay for an upmarket consumer PC these days; though he concedes that this is the age of the $450 entry-level Dell, and while you can buy a top-end PC in the same performance class as the Power Mac G5 for a very similar (or even higher) cost, most consumers aren't going to be interested in the very top end. They'll be comparing the iMac, however unfairly, to PCs 1/3 its cost, and that's a game Apple's never going to be able to win. But, well, that's fine; it's not like this is the worst it's ever been. Remember when entry-level Macs cost $2499 and top-end ones were $7500?

Altogether, I'd still be all over one. It's a G5, and that's hard to argue with; and it has big screens, which are essential these days (Apple sort of failed to predict, with the Luxo iMac, the sudden shift in expectations of LCD screen sizes, to the point where 17" is now considered pretty much the functional minimum). Those dangling cords aren't going to be pretty, but I'm sure we'll either find it doesn't bother us that much (the bottom edge of the unit isn't that high off the ground), or Apple will release a 2nd-gen model six months from now that shuffles them out of the way more effectively. With the packaging job they've done here, it's clear they're more than capable of figuring it out.


11:32 - Okay, that's just weird

(top)
Going through my spam this morning, I saw one message that talked about "married women looking for discrete encounters". I chuckled inwardly—all right! Multiple times!

And not three seconds later, Greg Kihn, in one of his sponsorship ads, said, "If you're a discernible customer, you're gonna want to go to Stevens Creek Toyota..."

Boy, not many continuum fans this morning, huh?

Thursday, September 16, 2004
22:29 - Saves us all a lot of effort
http://www.iraruskin.org/ruskin40yrs?PHPSESSID=379f573801c79fe05b075918ba180086

(top)
This just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy somehow: a local political ad, currently airing on many different cable channels, for State Assembly candidate Ira Ruskin.



What makes it so cool is that it's just so forthright. It doesn't pull any punches; it doesn't make any empty promises. It ends with the tagline: We know where he stands. And indeed we do.

Which means the ad has the interesting property that for people who oppose the things Ruskin says he stands for, the ad is as powerful a case for voting against him as it is for people who agree with him to vote for him. If Ruskin's opponent wanted to run an ad telling his base why not to vote for Ruskin, he may as well just pay to have Ruskin's own ad aired more frequently.

It really is a marvel of honesty, and for that—if for nothing else—I must tip my hat to Mr. Ruskin.


13:31 - Now that took guts
http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/007506.php

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Looks like Kevin Drum, one of the Left's most widely-read bloggers, has come out in favor of retreating from the Memo War:

I think it's time for everyone to give up on this. The memos are almost certainly fakes, they're sucking up media bandwidth that could be better used elsewhere, and Dan Rather is toast. Besides, there was really nothing in them that told us anything new.

Time to move on.

Go to Tim Blair's site to see a collection of the reactions from his readers that he must have known he'd receive. It's really quite breathtaking. As EvilPundit says in Blair's comments, "The poor bastard is trying to plug the holes in a sinking ship, and the other crew members are beating him with baseball bats."

It really took some balls to go ahead and say it, in light of these comments... and it really illustrates what peril one must be in, as a big-time Lefty writer, to know what kind of readers you have and what they expect from you.

Drum ought to be applauded for his clear vision, and more so for his courage. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes right about now.

UPDATE: Joshua Marshall of Talking Points Memo was similarly applauded for his intellectual honesty by a long-time fan. Phew, boy. These guys are really tolerant of dissenting points of view, aren't they? Right up until you express one. (Via John N.)

UPDATE: USA Today has a roundup of reactions from both sides of the blogosphere. Looks like a consensus to me, if there's a divergence in how happy it makes people. (Via Jonathan H.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004
13:25 - Leapfroggin' Macs
http://www.apple.com/science/profiles/colsa/

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Well, well—look what COLSA and the U.S Army have put together in 8 days to model hypersonic flight:



Into the second-place supercomputer slot we go! At least until Virginia Tech gets their new one done, that is.

I think Apple has officially shed its stigma in the high-end market. They're starting to look, from a cost/performance/ease-of-setup perspective, like the only game in town.

25+ teraflops? That'sa spicy meatball.


13:09 - Well, at least they're being honest now

(top)
One interesting side effect of the CBS/memo-forgery thing is that now that everyone is spinning madly over it, with every news organization but CBS holding interviews with bloggers demonstrating the memos' falsity, and CBS itself continuing to insist upon their authenticity and calling their opponents "partisan hacks" and such, is that it's seemingly made a lot of people lower their guard. There's no longer any pretense being made about media bias, or the purported lack thereof: it's all a given now, now that what we're discussing is so much more focused on a single event and person.

This past weekend, for example, we had the release of the Democrats' "Fortunate Son" video, which is founded upon the forged documents and features Dan Rather (as though anyone could possibly imagine that a coincidence). Under normal circumstances, wouldn't a news organ trying to dispel accusations of bias refuse to put its most prominent anchorperson in such proximity with a political party and its advertising? Wouldn't it shy away from anything that even looks like an endorsement? But that seems not to even matter anymore—everybody knows Dan Rather is staunchly opinionated toward one side now, and the only question in the air is whether he has any actual journalistic integrity left at all. It's really quite a stunning development, I think.

In other words, the edifice of the "impartial media" really has fallen, very suddenly. The mask has dropped. And of course there'll be no putting it back on.

So now that these bodies of authority over the information we consume are no longer hiding the fact that they're hiding things from us, we get stuff like this stunning admission—nay, taunt—by members of the Borders Bookstore employees' union, instructing employees to do everything in their power to prevent customers from buying the anti-Kerry book Unfit for Command.

You guys don’t actually HAVE to sell the thing!

Just “carelessly” hide the boxes, “accidentally” drop them off pallets, “forget” to stock the ones you have, and then suggest a nice Al Franken or Micheal Moore book as a substitute. Borders wants those recommends, remember?

I don’t care if these Neandertals in fancy suits get mad at me, they aren’t regular customers anyway. Other than “Left Behind” books, they don’t read. Anything you can do to make them feel unwelcome is only fair. They are the people pushing retailers to cut costs, don’t forget. And they would censor your speech, your books, your music in a heartbeat, so give them a taste of it!

Don’t get mad, get even!

We've been increasingly suspecting that the bookstores might be doing something like this, but it seemed far too far-fetched to be more than a conspiracy theory; after all, the first commenter at Kevin's site said (several weeks ago), "I'm a little surprised by this, that a huge conglomo-mega-corp would do this. I'm sure it had more to do with whoever stocked that table than corporate guidelines if I had to guess."

Well, I guess sometimes one can't overestimate how weird reality can be.

Don't you just love it, though? "And they would censor your speech, your books, your music in a heartbeat, so give them a taste of it!" Where have we heard this kind of language before? They'll kill you as soon as look at you! Don't feel bad, they're not even human! They don't feel pain!

Just remember, this isn't censorship, because it's by the good guys. For a good cause. With good intentions.

I swear, the more hysterical these people get about how evil their opponents are, the more people they're going to end up driving away from their side of the aisle for good. Not everyone is so willfully blind as to forever ignore the discrepancies between what they see and what they're told.

UPDATE: Kevin found an official statement from the Borders Union website that's just a scream to read. Unintentionally so, I think... but it's so hard to tell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004
17:50 - Dueling Truths
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=12613_Killians_Secretary-_These_Are_No

(top)
Go check out this LGF thread, where members give play-by-play commentary not only on Dan Rather's continued nutcase stonewalling on the document-forgery case, but of Brit Hume on Fox interviewing Scott Johnson (of Powerline fame), mentioning Charles Johnson and LGF numerous times, and showing the recreation-overlays.

One TV audience is being fed a line of what another TV audience is now learning first-hand is bullcrap.

I don't ever want to hear anyone tell me that Fox is "too biased to be useful" again. Ever.


16:49 - Hurricane warriors defend humanity

(top)
Here's the latest creative outpouring from the Ar-Rahman list:

I could write you a poem
With my aching tears.
Aching tears don't repair scars.
I must place my blood on my palm
Regardless of my old age.

Young Iraqi boys fight like lions,
Iraq’s neighbors watch soccer.
Iraq’s puppets
Fire American weapons;
They kill Iraqis
In vengeance for dead U.S. soldiers.

Iraq! I've built cuts and bruises
Around my heart to feel your pain
Until you're free.
I wish I could be there with you.
My back can still take a bomb or two.
I'd rather bleed to death
And not see you bleed.

My last hope is I die for you…
Burry me in Baghdad,
In Fallujah,
In Najaf,
In Sammarra,
In Ramadi;
Burry me
Inside every grain of your soil.

Iraq, you fell to your feet before.
Each time you pursed out from your wounds
Before your enemies dug their heels.
They all fled like wild creeps.

George deceived you:
He entered your home
From the back door.
He paraded your prisoners
Like sick dogs;
He raped your daughters and mothers;
He disintegrated your pride;
He dismantled your joints;
He severed your heart from your soul;
He bombed your mosques and libraries;
He robbed your galleries and museums;
He stained your earth;
He polluted your air;
He poisoned your water;
He spoiled your food;

Every drop of blood George spilled
Will clot his brain
And sicken his heart.
His nights shall become dreams
Of Hell Fire.
His subhuman followers
Shall be reduced to talking pigs.

George commits war crimes,
Victims return on flights of hurricanes and storms;
In seconds they sweep
What B52 carpet-bomb in days.

Hurricanes, Charlie and Frances invaded Florida.
Iraq is holding on its last breath.
Najaf, Fallujah, Sammara and Baghdad
Cannot dig enough graves
Under hails of U.S. bombs.
Is God giving us a sign?
Could this be just a mild warning
For the worse is yet to come?
Hurricanes, Charlie and Frances
Ruined millions of homes;
Nearly 6-million homeless
Join their Iraqi peers.
George W. Bush claimed God is on his side.
Believe George or God,
The choice is yours.

Islam weeps when humanity bleeds.
Hurricanes and U.S. Zionists
Are enemies at war:
Hurricane warriors defend humanity;
Zionist killers kill Arabs and Muslims.

America and Israel reduced Palestine
To concentration camps.
Hitler giggles in his grave,
His grandchildren carry his name.
Today they murder Afghanis and Iraqis;
Tomorrow they will bomb Iran and Syria.
Israelis, Palestinians, Afghanis and Iraqis
Prepare more cemeteries;
United States ships coffins free of charge

Saddam? Who?


04:01 - Life on the urban frontier

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I just witnessed the freakiest thing I think I've ever seen in the hallowed halls of suburbia.

About fifteen minutes ago, sitting in my comfy upstairs chair watching Lupin the Third, I heard outside my window a sudden flurry of caterwauling and rustling leaves. It sounded like a typical cat fight, coming from the hedges and brush at the far side of the house on our right at the end of the cul-de-sac; and I was about to dismiss it as such... except that the yowling and the tumbling in the dry leaves lasted for nearly half a minute, sounding particularly strained and earnest. When it died out, it did so quickly, as though a bag had suddenly been thrown over the participants. And, as I realized a few moments later, there had only been one cat's voice in the fracas.

An unsettling thought therefore ran through my mind on spindly legs, but I hustled it out and went back to the TV-watching. Cat fights can be weird, I thought.

Then, a moment later, Capri came into my room, making those little whimpery noises he makes when he wants a walk—or, more generically, when he'd like to go outside please. So I pulled on some shoes and went downstairs with him, put on his collar, and we headed out the front door.



Capri tugged forward immediately, and I could immediately see why: right in front of me, about forty feet away, a taut, loping, canine shape, about knee-high with tall pointy ears, trotted out from behind the car parked at the sidewalk on the right, looked at me, and then glided briskly leftward across my field of vision and then away from me down the road. And it was followed immediately by three others, each emerging from some nook between cars... and one carrying something heavy and limp and, well... cat-shaped.

Coyotes. Four of them. Hunting in a pack... in my cul-de-sac, right outside my window.

And they just made off with one of our next-door neighbors' cats!

I've heard coyotes yelping and howling in the ravine behind the power station down where I walk Capri, late at night; I've known they come within vocal range of my bedroom window, but I'd never known they'd become so brazen as to take the hunt right down the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac. Apparently the local coyotes have begun to evolve into the ecological niche vacated by wolves, and now hunt in packs very similar to their larger cousins; their quarry is necessarily smaller, but a cat is quite a prize, especially for something as small as a coyote.

I tried running after the hunting party as they paused at the end of the cul-de-sac, where it opens onto the major avenue; they stood there, seemingly unconcerned, surveying the situation, and knowing I couldn't follow them because Capri was far more interested in sniffing the ground where they'd left their various calling cards than in giving chase. (Probably just as well.) But I likewise couldn't drag him back inside so I could grab a Mag-lite and go running after them; so I had to just let him finish satisfying his olfactory curiosity, myself watching passively as the coyotes turned and vanished into the night, and then took Capri back inside the house where he lay down seemingly exhausted from the night's sleuthing.

I grabbed the flashlight and ran out in the direction where I was pretty sure the coyotes had gone—left turn at the avenue, down to the vacant lot that abuts the wooded ravine with Guadalupe Creek at the bottom—but the trail was long cold. Again, it's probably just as well.

Our neighbors are going to have an unpleasant surprise tomorrow morning; I guess it's up to Lance to tell the story.

But it's something to have witnessed it first-hand, lemme tell you.

Monday, September 13, 2004
00:42 - Today is a great day for democracy!

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Oh, and I would appreciate it if anyone who thinks that Bush is guilty of waging war on our democracy and exploiting 9/11 for his own political purposes would please take a look at this.

We're not doing any setting of the bar here, folks.

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© Brian Tiemann