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
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, October 10, 2004
20:26 - Spammers for Bush

(top)
Okay, so it's not just anti-Bush moonbats sending out exhortations via spam. I just got one from these guys too.

Granted, this one is funny... and well-laid-out, and includes the company's full name and address and everything. Quite above-board, except it is spam.

So it still wins!

Saturday, October 9, 2004
04:16 - They're Back

(top)
Everybody rise! JibJab has released the sequel to "This Land": "Good To Be In D.C.". Just as well animated, just as well voiced and scored, and just as funny. They're selling them both on DVD, and have them available for $3 downloads.

These guys are goood.

Friday, October 8, 2004
22:16 - I can honestly say that was the best episode of "Impy & Chimpy" I've ever seen
http://www.thespoonsexperience.com/archives/003041.php#003041

(top)
Good debate. Goooood debate. I do believe that InstaPundit reader is right: Bush does better when he can talk directly to his audience, and stomp around on the stage waving his arms, instead of having to stare out into the darkness at a camera lens.

Plus he had the benefit of the Duelfer Report, armed with which nobody could be expected to lose. I was gratified to see that Bush pounded on it after all, early on in the debate, in the Iraq segment (which he carried most convincingly, even though he had to defend admitting Iraq had no WMDs). He stopped short of explaining to everybody that France and Germany and Russia refused to join us because they were on the take from Saddam, because that would have been tantamount to severing diplomatic ties; but everything else, he did cover: Saddam was gaming the United Nations toward getting the sanctions lifted, upon which he'd be free to resume his WMD programs! Kerry didn't have much to fall back on but "Well, uh, we didn't have enough troops! So I'm going to call for more troops! And then pull them out!" and so on. Oh, and "I don't waffle. What could have ever given you that idea?"

I didn't see the first debate, but from all accounts this was a completely different ballgame. Bush didn't win on all counts (he screwed up a few things, like prescription drugs from Canada and Supreme Court justice appointments), but Kerry had nothing but tired economic statistics that can be turned on their heads by explaining them more fully, and threadbare appeals to "allies" that are getting more laughable by the day. Bush didn't let up on it, but Kerry kept yammering on like he hadn't heard a word.

I wish Bush had remembered about Australia, though, especially in that outburst where he interrupted the moderator. The Aussies ought to be first out the gate in some of these lists.

This is getting fun, though. "Need some wood?" Heee. Bush had it to spare.


16:08 - Solving the ID10T problem
http://www.whatithinkiknow.com/

(top)
Damien has offered an excellent example of how to respond to someone who's convinced himself that anyone who disagrees with him is either evil or stupid.

At some point in life, you will come to respect others' points of view. Perhaps you will be convinced through personal experience, or through argument, or through simply coming to love someone with different viewpoints, in whom you are interested enough to listen and understand.

You're not an idiot, and neither am I. Yet we disagree, and this fact alone should compel you to give a little more thought and respect to the "other side". You gain nothing as a person by cocooning yourself in comfortable and unchallenged views - it is through interaction, understanding, and substantive argument that one becomes more enlightened. And, of course, experience.

Granted, if I were a high school student receiving a message like this, it would simply make me angry—I'd dismiss it as so much sanctimonious, word-twisting hoo-haw, because I'd still know I was right. One person disagreeing with me and my righteous beliefs? Pshaw.

But the seed would have been planted; so the next time something like this happened...

UPDATE: Somehow I doubt it would work on these people, though. They've grabbed up a degraded facsimile of the truth and run so far downfield that it's not worth even going after them.


11:05 - I can dream, can't I?
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=13044_Kerry-_Our_Moral_Leadership_is_N

(top)
Kerry on Darfur:

WASHINGTON - Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry says he would not send U.S. forces to stop the genocide in Sudan if they continued to be needed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I’d do everything possible,” he said in a taped interview broadcast Thursday night on Black Entertainment Television, citing logistical support and money to help the African Union intervene in the Sudanese crisis.

Asked whether he’d send troops, Kerry said the United States would “have to be in a position in Iraq and Afghanistan” to allow that to happen. He said his options as president would be limited because President Bush has overextended U.S. forces.

“Our flexibility is less than it was,” he said. “Our moral leadership is not what it ought to be.”

You know what I'd love to see?

Once—just once—for any reporter interviewing Kerry to, at this point, say:

"Yes or no, please, sir."

Wouldn't that just be devastating?

Such a simple question, such a simple answer they're looking for: Assuming we had them available, would you send troops to Sudan? Yes or no? Just trying to find out whether he thinks it's something we should do or not. But no, the answer is a pointless ramble about Iraq and Afghanistan and Bush and moral leadership.

Yes or no, please, sir. Imagine what a sound bite that would make.

I guess we know what four years of Kerry press conferences will look like.


10:05 - Spammers For Kerry

(top)
Now that's a constituency Kerry doesn't need. Some enterprising soul has taken to emitting an anti-Bush tract via spam. I've received about nine copies of it so far:

From: GEORGE W. BUSH <pndxqzfk@yz.com>
Subject: I approve this message
Date: October 8, 2004 6:29:05 AM PDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

PLEASE CONSIDER MY EXPERIENCE WHEN VOTING IN 2004


EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION

Law Enforcement:
I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under
the influence of alcohol. I pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and had
my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving
record has been "lost" and is not available.

Military:
I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused
to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use.
By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid
combat duty in Vietnam.

College:
I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was
a cheerleader.

. . .

...Blah, blah, blah.

It's all canards and innuendoes (with whatever fragments of truth mixed in as could be found), and nothing we haven't heard before. But it's being spewed scattershot across the Internet now, using the same low-budget means of delivery that spam has always benefited from.

I suppose it shouldn't surprise me, given what other tactics are being increasingly employed of late by those convinced that another four years of Bush will cause the planet to explode, or whatever. But I have to wonder: will the number of people potentially swayed by this message be greater than the number of people utterly pissed-off at being told what to think politically by a piece of spam nestled in between the "The original HGH Longevity from Germany" and "Get Ciälis Välium Ambinën 62% Off Retäil" missives?

Thursday, October 7, 2004
16:26 - They Know Stuff
http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20041007_295.html

(top)
Behold the artistic glories of our intellectual betters:

It didn't take a nuclear physicist to realize changes were needed after a $40,000 ceramic mural was unveiled outside the city's new library and everyone could see the misspelled names of Einstein, Shakespeare, Vincent Van Gogh, Michelangelo and seven other historical figures.

"Our library director is very frustrated that she has this lovely new library and it has all these misspellings in front," said city councilwoman Lorraine Dietrich, one of three council members who voted Monday to authorize paying another $6,000, plus expenses, to fly the artist up from Miami to fix the errors.

Sweet deal, huh? Maybe it was all part of the plan. Maybe this artiste is a mad genius.

Reached at her Miami studio Wednesday by The Associated Press, Maria Alquilar said she was willing to fix the brightly colored 16-foot-wide circular work, but offered no apologizes for the 11 misspellings among the 175 names.

"The importance of this work is that it is supposed to unite people," Alquilar said. "They are denigrating my work and the purpose of this work."

...Okay, perhaps not. She's just a Moore-pattern freak.

The mistakes wouldn't even register with a true artisan, Alquilar said.

"The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."
True artists aren't bound by such inane concepts as spelling, y'see. This work, It is actually a commentary on our shallow society with its fixation on being "correct" or "accurate" or "true". A pox on the pedants who would question such a work of genius as this!

What utter, astonishing gall. That'd better be some frickin' mural, if they're still willing to give this Being of Ephemeral Light six extra grand to fix these mistakes.

Via Brian D. And apologies to Tim Blair for lifting his subject line; it's a meme that should be free, Tim! Fie on your corporate fat-cat "copyright" and "property"!

UPDATE: How did I know her "murals" would look like this? Sigh.

You've got to catch these people in the act or they'll never learn.

Thanks to Corsair, who has more on this moron.

UPDATE: Kimberly Swygert appears to have the definitive roundup of this matter, including the fact that this incoherent master of ugly art with an overinflated sense of ego is a former schoolteacher. I'm not sure which word surprises me less: schoolteacher, or former...


15:11 - Let me hammer him today
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6168202/#041007

(top)
So now the Duelfer Report is out, which despite headlines by mainstream media outlets fixated on perpetuating the idea that Bush somehow "lied" about WMDs, now firmly establishes a number of very uncomfortable conclusions for those who have placed all their chips on the BUSH LIED!!! side of the table.

Not only were Saddam's WMD programs evidently quite well poised for a resumption at any time, that resumption was confidently expected—by Saddam—to occur hot on the heels of the sanctions being dropped by the UN, whose French and Russian and German delegates he had been sweetly bribing for years toward the end of keeping the Americans off his back.

Glenn Reynolds has been keeping this front and center:

SADDAM HUSSEIN believed he could avoid the Iraq war with a bribery strategy targeting Jacques Chirac, the President of France, according to devastating documents released last night.

Memos from Iraqi intelligence officials, recovered by American and British inspectors, show the dictator was told as early as May 2002 that France - having been granted oil contracts - would veto any American plans for war. . . .

Saddam was convinced that the UN sanctions - which stopped him acquiring weapons - were on the brink of collapse and he bankrolled several foreign activists who were campaigning for their abolition. He personally approved every one.

To keep America at bay, he focusing on Russia, France and China - three of the five UN Security Council members with the power to veto war. Politicians, journalists and diplomats were all given lavish gifts and oil-for-food vouchers.

Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, told the ISG that the "primary motive for French co-operation" was to secure lucrative oil deals when UN sanctions were lifted. Total, the French oil giant, had been promised exploration rights.

And what did Saddam bribe the French and Russian diplomats with? Why, that ten billion dollars that went missing from the Oil-For-Food scheme, that was supposed to pay for Iraqis' food and medicine.

In exchange for which the French and Russians and Germans pledged Saddam that they'd do everything in their power to prevent the Americans from taking him out.

Sound to you like someone that would have jumped on board with us if only we'd spent a little more time haggling at the UN, like Kerry says he would have done?

Sound to you like someone we would want to get involved in the Iraq reconstruction, or who would agree to do so even if we did, as Kerry plans to ask them to?

Sound to you like anyone whose opinions on this matter we should be taking any more seriously than we did Saddam's?

This is far uglier than any simple "smoking gun". This is exactly what Steven Den Beste suggested, last January, sick at heart, might in our darkest dreams be at the core of the controversy:

Suppose we win, which is absolutely certain.

And suppose, once we've done so, and have occupied Iraq and have full (really full, not UN full) access to Iraq's records and can truly find what they have, that we find that everything we've been saying about their WMDs is really true; that they have chem and bio weapons and banned delivery systems, and are near to developing nukes, which I also think is extremely likely.

One more and the most important: suppose that the records also show that during the 1990's companies in France or Germany (or both) actively and deliberately broke the sanctions and sold equipment and supplies to Iraq which helped it to create these things, and that the governments of Germany and France knew and approved of this and actively helped. That's the biggest and most speculative suppose.

. . .

If they (Chirac and Schröder) know that they face the scenario I described above after we invade, that would definitely explain their behavior, because preventing Anglo-American occupation of Iraq is the only conceivable way they could prevent it. If this is the case, then since no other way exists to avoid this fate and since the consequences of it are dreadful, it would make sense to continue the lost cause of trying to prevent our attack.

So the more they persist even as it becomes ever more hopeless, the more I find myself worrying that they are trying to cover up something really, really big.

Only the French and Russians weren't even doing business with Saddam, which would have been bad enough. They were taking bribes from Saddam, bribes funded by humanitarian aid money paid for by Iraqi oil and stolen by Saddam and ignored by UN officials, and accepting promises that in the future they'd be right at the top of Saddam's buddy list, in the on-deck circle to drill a bunch of new wells and secure their own private oil stash with which to become a new European superpower independent of American influence.

If that isn't the absolute lowest of lows, I don't know what could top it. I mean, at least Hitler was honest about what he was doing. At least we knew Saddam was a dictator of a Stalinist police state. But these guys? They must have known what these actions were doing to innocent Iraqis, and where they would fit on the totem pole of morality if ever called to account; but apparently, through soothing diplo-speak and polysyllabic euphemisms, they managed to convince themselves that what they were doing was excusable, even justifiable. These guys are the Zyklon-B manufacturers, the guys who built the ovens, the contractors laying the pipe. They knew what they were doing, they could have opted out, but... all in a day's work, right? A buck's a buck.

What a perfect picture of the post-modern, post-human "world beyond morality". Nothing is right or wrong anymore; it's all just a mathematical equation, a cynical calculation which either comes out positive or negative. What a great illustration of the Earth we stand to inherit once we're all dispassionate, scientific apostles to reason. It'll kill a hundred thousand people? Well, yeah, but it'll also make us billions of euros. Can't make an omelette without breaking oeufs.

Remember when we blamed huge corporations for thinking like this?

I guess that's what happens when you run your country like a corporation, with a board of directors and several thousand employees and a few million shareholders. Complete with a corporate logo and a brand identity. And market penetration statistics.

So this really isn't any worse than what we most darkly suspected, but it's still infuriating to see it right there in black and white—and yet to see some people still stubbornly taking the side of these slughearted villains, pledging to the kid with his hand stuck in the cookie jar that we'll reward him with all the cookies he can eat. We know they'll doggedly fight to the bitter end, because nothing's worth changing one's mind for—not even new facts coming to light. But by rights, John Kerry's entire case for the Presidency, centered now around Iraq's missing WMDs and the holy blessing of France and Russia and the UN, now revealed as Saddam's boot-licking, wholly-owned accomplices, ought to wither and die overnight.

But it won't. Not unless Bush is willing to hammer on this with every breath in his body from now until Election Day.

As Dean Esmay says, in his own comments:

If Bush cannot make the point, then he deserves to lose.

Yup. If he's too squeamish to point the finger of moral righteousness squarely in the faces of those who need to be on its receiving end, then he's apparently not bothered by being mistaken for just another accomplice. He did take out Saddam, yes... he did put his money where his mouth was, and his gun is now loaded again. But he'd better not get cold feet now that he has perfect license to pull the trigger.


12:37 - No need to worry, Mr. Durden; we're solid
http://arstechnica.com/reviews/hardware/G5.ars

(top)
Via Steven, Ars Technica's Eric Bangeman has issued an exhaustive nine-page review of the dual 2.5-GHz Power Mac G5. It's a fun read, as he covers all the little everyday quirks of the machine (like the metal handles that dig into your hands, more there for show and checkbox-ism than for plush utility) and does it in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.

He's justifiably critical of a few things, like the lackluster default video card and the limited drive bays (though he does cover how those little round "drive guides"—those little balls next to the disk—work, which had totally escaped me before). But he's also quite impressed with a few other features, like the well-polished Setup Assistant that migrates you painlessly from your old Mac, the cooling system which seems to have had all its kinks worked out (my dual 2.0 is still very touchy about its fans), and the case design—while it has its share of drawbacks and compromises—is still pretty damn cool, and utilitarian depending on what exactly you want out of it. And the thing is still fast as hell. The fact that that goes without saying, so much so as to barely merit mention, is quite a testament to the PR turnaround that Apple's enjoyed as a result of finally getting the over the G5 hurdle.

He gives it an 8/10 score; surely not perfect, but what is in this day and age? Apple's got a solid winner here, and that's no easy feat even for a company without Apple's baggage.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004
15:06 - Megawatt Macs
http://www.informationweek.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=48800573

(top)
The business world is sitting up and taking notice: Apple has a honey of a solution for 'em.

Defense contractor Colsa Corp. buys high-performance computer clusters for the U.S. Army. That means competitive bidding, as in the case of an Army supercomputer project that went up for bid in April. With requirements that specified footprint, power-management options, and a peak performance of 25 teraflops--computational speed surpassed by only one supercomputer in the world as of August--the company fielded proposals from six major vendors. "Apple won on technical [merits] and cost," executive VP Anthony DiRienzo says.

. . .

The difference isn't simply that the G5 chip draws significantly less power than competing chips, says Alex Grossman, director of hardware storage at Apple. Through its control of hardware and software, Apple has been able to design custom input/output components that allow the use of more affordable, more energy-efficient disk storage without sacrificing data transfer speed. "Our Serial ATA [has] three 7,200-rpm drives in there, which draw less than half the power of SCSI drives that most people use and generate half the heat," Grossman boasts. "We can get similar performance to what people get in 10,000-rpm SCSI drives. And in a lot of cases, we approach what they get with 15,000-rpm drives."

And the costs stay low. "The cost is really a commodity-cost level," Grossman says.

Well then. I guess that explains why Apple has shunned SCSI, after being the SCSI banner-bearer for so very long. They're doing better with Serial ATA on performance and price. Hard to argue with that, I guess...

There's a lot more. Especially the very last sentence, which is the very distillation of all that is Apple.


13:13 - Whittle's election essay
http://www.ejectejecteject.com/archives/000107.html

(top)
Looks like Bill was up late writing this; seems it was worth it:

We don’t want [9/11] to happen again.

We want to deter it from happening again.

And all of this rage and fury and spitting and tearing up of signs, all of these insults and spinmeisters and forgeries and all the rest, seem to come down to the fact that about half the country thinks you deter this sort of thing by being nice, while the other half thinks you deter this by being mean.

Exactly. See the MoveOn.org post below about how they want to spin the debate: Cheney was mean, so he sucks. Edwards was warm and charming and nice, so he rules.

Maybe if we were fighting bunny-rabbits or fields of sunflowers or an invasion of Darth Vaders that feed on wrath and hatred and use it to grow ever stronger.

But not if we're fighting people who laugh at our "tolerance" and call us weak and subhuman for it. It's not by being nicer that they'll change their minds and become nice in return. These aren't Pokémon villains; they're the reincarnations of the Nazis and the imperial Japanese, and there's only one way to deal with such people.

Once upon a time we understood that.

UPDATE: Oh, and he also covers what I and Matteo had been writing about: what is Bush's game plan? Why hasn't he told us about it? Why are we the ones tasked with keeping his September 20, 2001 speech's fire burning?

UPDATE: It's rather spooky how closely today's rather excellent Bush speech echoes Bill's essay in places.

If Americans can understand how the MAD doctrine kept the world from getting nuked, they can grasp how it's more important and effective to deter people who come from a completely different universe than to please people who are already from ours.


13:03 - Mac OS Xbox
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~ranma1/mac_install.html

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Wow. OS X on an Xbox.

Via Steven, who says, "Why? Why? Why would anyone DO this?"

Beats me, but I'll bet Edmund Hillary could tell you...

UPDATE: Bah! I knew I was putting my foot into it, there. It was George Mallory who said the bit about climbing a mountain because it was there. Thanks to Paul for setting me straight.


11:28 - That's some ironclad testimony right there

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Here's MoveOn.org's mass mailing in response to the Cheney-Edwards debate, which most people seem to be describing as a Cheney win:

Dear MoveOn member,

We're on a roll. In last night's vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney was angry, misleading and petulant; Edwards took him on with warmth, clarity and the facts. CBS News reported this morning that Edwards "continued the Democratic ticket's winning streak," beating Cheney by 13 percentage points in a post-debate poll of uncommitted voters.[1]

Again and again, Cheney tried to mislead the public about the war in Iraq and our economic problems here at home. He even claimed that he’d never met Edwards before when he had, in public, twice. But John Edwards wouldn't let him get away with it: when Cheney tried once again to link al Qaeda and 9/11, Edwards said, "Mr. Vice President, you are still not being straight with the American people," and explained that there was absolutely no connection. We've compiled a bunch more of these misleads -- and the facts -- below. And we captured that strong rebuttal on tape: you can check it out at www.moveonpac.org.

The problem is that Cheney lies with utter conviction, so for some of the folks who are just tuning in to the presidential contest, it's difficult to tell who was fabricating and who was telling the truth. But if we all just take one of Cheney's false statements listed below and write to our local paper about it, we can debunk Cheney's distortions and demonstrate Edwards' commitment to the truth.

Never mind all the rebuttals to those "explanations", like about Iraq/al Qaeda, that followed from Cheney. Those facts don't count. But, hey, it's not like MoveOn.org is interested in being rigorous with its methods here. Who do we think they are, FactCheck.org?

Man, I ache to see what these people mail out on November 3rd.

UPDATE: By the way, here's some more important information about Halliburton you should know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2004
22:58 - Voting with one's guts
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1097037348.shtml

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You know, I keep telling myself that I have better reasons to vote for George W. Bush than to prevent these people's tactics from paying off.

But, well, some days it's the only one that matters.

UPDATE: See, because there's a word for people who do this sort of thing: terrorists.

Vote Bush, or the terrorists win.


17:36 - Rope-A-Century
http://cartagodelenda.blogspot.com/2004/10/what-is-bushs-game.html

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Matteo at Cartago Delenda Est is another Silicon Valley blogger with a beleaguered-conservative bent (and a very attractive site to boot); a couple of days ago he posted some interesting thoughts about what Bush may be up to in this election season, and indeed throughout his term:

Think about it. Bush does not run a 24/7 media war machine or “permanent campaign” like Clinton did (and the Dems and MSM still do). A victory for him via such methods is not a victory at all, for himself, or the country. During his presidency he has held back. The result? It’s staring us all in the face right now. Look at the Blogosphere. Look at the renaissance of discussion, analysis, and just plain thinking that is taking place. This is politics at the “grass roots”. This is engagement, this is involvement, this is a revolution!

I was just thinking about this the other day, actually. What has he held, twelve press conferences since 2000? Part of what's so befuddling about this whole political football game that's been raging since we saw the smoking towers on TV and wondered just what the anchorpeople meant when they said this changes everything is that the level of vitriol raised against the Bush administration has gone so stunningly unchecked. How many baseless accusations against him has Bush seen fit to go on TV to refute? Why has he not given any evening addresses to defend his National Guard service? Why hasn't he explained the role of Halliburton in Iraq, giving historical context and industry statistics describing why they have the contracts they do, and just how tenuously their fortunes are connected with Cheney's? Why, for Pete's sake, hasn't he thought it necessary to explain the overall long-term strategy of the War on Terror to the American people? And how much grief and approval points could he have saved himself if only he had? If this were the Clinton era, or even the Reagan era, there'd be an explicit Administration line on every controversy of the day. There'd be no chance for anyone to write up a sign calling the president Hitler, much less convene a 150,000-strong protest in San Francisco, because he'd have taken the stage on day three to dispense a carefully worded rationale for any action that anyone might find objectionable.

That hasn't happened this Presidential term. Like, at all. And this is supposed to be a fascist dictatorship, remember, where we're all told what to think on a daily basis.

So there's next to no defense coming out of the White House for any of the actions that anyone has attacked it for, from not signing Kyoto to being in bed with the Saudis to supposedly cutting veterans' benefits to the entire strategy of the Global War on Terror, including Iraq and future political and/or military steps involved therewith. The Administration has just gone about its business, going through all the proper legislative and procedural channels and all, but leaving the American populace curiously out of the loop. And who's been left to pick up the slack here? Well, who did I just link to several times? Bloggers. Random people on the Internet with a penchant for being thoughtful and long-winded. Average Joes have taken up the task of defending the President's agenda, because he doesn't seem to have any interest in doing so himself. They've been doing the research, spending the money, and putting in the tireless effort to propound rationales and defenses for Bush that the President doesn't seem to want to issue himself—and that are, for all the analysis behind them, mostly guesses. Why is that the new standard for discourse over our nation's committed direction? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I mean, what the hell kind of President is it who says not a single word in response when a local headquarters of his re-election campaign is sprayed with bullets?

You'd think that with the tone of the anti-Bush slogans rising in a seemingly endless crescendo, unchecked, unchalleged, there would eventually come a time when the charges the Left raises would have to be answered. But Bush isn't doing so, not even in the debates. He's backing off of the tough questions, not going for the easy kill. It's like he doesn't even care about defending his actions. We don't even know why. It could be because he doesn't believe in his own agenda himself. It could be because he sees the criticism to be a completely meaningless distraction. Or it could be because of some ingenious plan to empower individual Americans by inducting them into the political process on a completely populist level, leaving himself completely open to attack because he knows that some people will see the method in what he's doing and take it upon themselves to be his banner-bearers, voluntarily and on their own recognizance, painstakingly building up their own credibility as they go.

This last possibility seems freakishly remote. But there was once a time when we believed our government was easily capable of such intricate and century-long-lasting social engineering projects, wasn't there? Remember the CIA of the 60s? The Pinkertons? NASA? The thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing spooks to whom the guy from A Beautiful Mind reported? That's not completely gone today, is it? We know how dunderheaded the FBI has become... or is that just what they want us to think?

I don't even know what the most likely explanation for this phenomenon is; all I know is that it's extremely strange, and a little bit unnerving. It certainly explains why people like Michael Moore exist and are so popular, and yet have such an amazing lack of an irony gland as to claim their dissenting opinions are being crushed by an overbearing government enforcing a party line. The reality is so unbelievably far in the opposite direction, with near-silence coming from the White House even when it's under the fiercest attack, that it's easy to imagine that something sinister must be going on. What else can explain it?

Occam's Razor would tend to tell me that this silence isn't complete disinterest nor an intricately orchestrated conspiracy; I think it's mostly just extreme discipline and focus on the job at hand, and a refusal to involve the White House in the quagmire of the scurrilous charges raised against it, because to answer them would be to legitimize them. Even that possibility seems a bit far-fetched, though. Certainly it seems as though ignoring the Moores of the world hasn't made them go away, and so the strategy may have backfired.

I hope it's not too late. It's possible for the White House to have restored too much dignity, I suppose.

By the way, Matteo has a couple of other posts—here and here—that discuss the ins and outs of running a GOP voter-registration table in Silicon Valley. Maybe showing restraint in responding to insults is a systemic feature after all...


14:23 - Thief! Thief! We hates it... we hates it forever!
http://management.silicon.com/itpro/0,39024675,39124642,00.htm

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Hoo-boy... Steve Ballmer has really stepped in it, hasn't he?

Speaking to an exclusive gathering of press in London on a number of issues, such as security, Steve Ballmer didn't pass up the opportunity to take several digs at his company's arch rival Apple.

Billing Microsoft as the good guys and Apple the villains of the piece - at least as far as corporate America, rather than users, is concerned, Ballmer said: "We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is 'stolen'."

Looks like the reaction to this is what's becoming the even juicier story. Ballmer's backing waaaay the hell off, apparently after realizing that he's just insulted a whole bunch of Windows users in the bargain—and the unassailable sacred cow of the technology market today, the iPod.

The story got picked up on a number of Mac sites and geek news portal Slashdot.org and within hours had gone truly stellar. Within 24 hours, Ballmer's words were coming back to haunt him.

On the Dutch leg of his European tour he was asked to explain those views, as expressed in the silicon.com story. It was a question he had perhaps been expecting and was obviously aware of the backlash his words had evoked. However, his exact remarks had clearly, conveniently slipped his mind.

"I don't know what I said exactly, but it was bad," said Ballmer, drawing out the last word - "baaaaaad" - for added emphasis, according to Lars Pasveer, a journalist from ZDNet Netherlands.

Just how "bad" it was can be seen from the nature of the reader comments - a record number - posted in reaction to the story.

One reader wrote: "Such a shame Ballmer has to resort to such stabs at Apple. 'Stolen music' indeed. Yes, all those iPod owners with their fair use encodes of the actual CDs that they own, and their purchases of music from iTunes. Where exactly are his figures showing that most of the music on iPods is stolen anyway?"

"While I'm sure there are music thieves using every brand of portable music player, as an iPod owner and one who only has legally purchased the music on it, I take offence at Ballmer's comments and find them childish," wrote another, adding that it was "a poorly thought-out dig at the iPod's success".

Others took a more sardonic view. "Nice bit of promotion that, if you want people to buy your hardware instead of an iPod, insult the customer and brand him a thief," wrote another reader.

Indeed. Sounds like a tantrum, to me. Now I guess we're seeing how Apple and Microsoft respectively act when they're in the underdog position.

Monday, October 4, 2004
16:02 - "He's killed people"
http://www.thnt.com/thnt/story/0,21282,1068611,00.html

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Wow. Via Corsair comes this charming little story of crushed dissent. South Brunswick, NJ? I was just there this weekend:

Pillai-Diaz, 33, a volunteer with the Bush campaign and an English teacher, has had a publicity picture of the First Couple hanging in her classroom since the start of the school year, she said.

The photo became an issue last week.

Parents e-mailed an assistant principal accusing Pillai-Diaz of suppressing free speech because the teacher refused to talk to pupils about why the color photo hung in the room.

"Students said, 'You like George Bush? He's killed people,' " Pillai-Diaz said. "As a rule I don't talk about my politics in the classroom."

Which you have to say these days if you're a teacher. If you don't want to lose your job, you'd better be prepared to explain yourself if you put a picture of the President up in your classroom. Or else cower and plead that it's not meant as a political statement.

This is about as close as it gets these days to the old stereotypical gym coach/civics teacher who would make you memorize the preamble to the Constitution or do thirty push-ups. I'm not convinced that this is an improvement.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore gets to post on his website about his gleeful plans for Fahrenheit 9/11 DVDs to be pirated and sent to American soldiers in Iraq so that they'll become demoralized and die and thus come home sooner... and nobody bats an eye. Indeed, they give him gold statues for it. For what in an earlier age might have been called something as gauche as giving aid and comfort to the enemy in time of war.

Pillai-Diaz told the assistant principal to take the picture down himself. Then she sought Principal Jim Warfel, who gave her an upbraiding.

"He said, 'You've caused more disruption, hatred and anger than anyone I've ever known,' " she said.

The teacher said the principal told her to "get out," so she left and headed to the South Brunswick Police Department.

That's hatred for ya. Putting up a picture of the President in your classroom. That's what gets a teacher fired these days.

I wonder what the school would say about posters of Mao or Che?

No, I don't either.

UPDATE: God... this makes it even worse:

The White House-issued photo of the Bushes was pinned to a bulletin board that held portraits of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and a copy of the Constitution.

"I wouldn't touch politics in my classroom with a 10-foot pole, but [the principal] felt I was making a political statement," said Shiba Pillai-Diaz, 33, a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Crossroads South Elementary School in Monmouth Junction.

"It was meant to be a picture of the current president, nothing partisan about it," said Pillai-Diaz, a Republican mother of one who volunteered at the party's convention in Madison Square Garden.

The principal et al. are trying to get her to either take down the photo, or add a photo of John Kerry. They want to shift the point of the photo from the fact that Bush is the sitting President, to the controversy of the coming election.

She's considering this President to be a part of U.S. history, just like every other President. The people asking her to take the photo down, however, seem to be trying to erase him from history. To turn his term into a memory, and to define him only in terms of being the guy running against Kerry. To transform him into something temporary and fleeting, like Prohibition.

To say nothing of that making it into a Bush/Kerry thing would force her to have the in-class debate, which she clearly doesn't want to do. I think she's simply shocked that putting up a picture of the President in a public school classroom these days is something you have to justify, or explain, or discuss... or defend.

Thanks to Kenny B. for the link.


11:33 - "The Navy didn't send Republicans to Vietnam; they sent men."
http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1096905911.shtml

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Dean Esmay managed to get a lengthy phone interview with Van Odell, a gunner's mate from John Kerry's unit and member of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He asked questions that commenters had suggested, and really drove to the heart of the matter in a lot of key areas.

DW: If President Bush were to publicly call for your group to pull its ads and to stop campaigning against Senator Kerry, would you stop?

VO: No. No. No. We're not part of the Republican party, we're not trying to elect Bush, we're Democrats and independents and Republicans across the board. The Navy didn't send Republicans to Vietnam, they sent men.

All 60 of our group who served with Kerry in Vietnam, and the others who served there and have joined us, we want the American people to hear our story. Personally, I also want this story to be known to historians....

We're not tied to any campaign. We're a group of private citizens who've formed a 527. We're going to tell our truth to the American people up until November 2nd. We don't want his lies recorded as truth in the history books.

This is about as classy as a campaign to attack an individual person can ever be expected to be.

After all, we've all seen what their counterparts on the other side look like...

Previous Week...


© Brian Tiemann