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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Friday, October 29, 2004
15:49 - Oh, what now?
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,137095,00.html

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Oh, for Pete's sake:

WASHINGTON—The Arab television station Al-Jazeera is broadcasting a new tape from Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden.

Multiple sources told FOX News that the 18-minute videotape is authentic and said its release was timed to coincide with Tuesday’s presidential elections. Bin Laden makes reference to recent conflicts in Iraq and addresses the American people directly, sources said.

U.S. officials saidthe tapeappears to have been made recently. Bin Laden is speaking from a lectern and he talks about threats to the United States and he says that President Bush will not protect the American people.

So after nearly three years of complete video silence and the release of only a few unconfirmable audio tapes, bin Laden heaves himself up out of the nether reaches of our collective memory to issue a brand-new, authentic video on Halloween?

A video where he argues in the same vocabulary as Michael Moore, Democratic Underground, and John Kerry against reelecting Bush?

What, so finding out that the UN was taking bribes from Saddam and the Russians smuggled WMDs into Syria, Kerry accusing our military of incompetence based on flabby non-evidence, Kerry's "honorable discharge" from the Navy getting called into doubt, and all the rest of this crap swirling up out of the bowl in the last three days wasn't enough? What the hell kind of election is this?

Got any more "October Surprises" for us? C'mon, out with it. Let's just get it over with.

UPDATE: Is it just me, or has the atmosphere suddenly been kicked back to the "supervillain holding the world hostage" theme of the post-9/11 days? Here we have bin Laden (for all we know until we have an impartial translator analyze his actual words—it's entirely possible that this is a hoax using an old tape and a new "translation") speaking directly to America, proudly claiming responsibility for 9/11 and yet telling us that Bush "deceived America" and that "If he'd been more clever, he could have stopped me... mwa ha ha haaah!" —or words to that effect. It's almost like he's honestly trying to give us helpful advice on fighting terrorism, while at the same time taking credit for being exactly what we're fighting. This is just way too surreal.

A case can be made for this being a hoax perpetrated by Kerry supporters or by Bush supporters. I know I don't know who ends up looking better for it.

UPDATE: Wretchard's analysis is that Osama's video is a plea for surrender.

If so, then our answer is, "What? Did someone say something?"


13:36 - Take a bow, Mr. Army Man
http://powerlineblog.com/archives/008362.php

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Power Line is rapidly gaining a reputation as Scandal Central. Here's today's big news on the Big Scary Iraqi Munitions Disappearance:

Major Pearson says that his team removed around 250 tons of munitions and other materials from Al Qaqaa. He doesn't recall any "sealed" areas and can't say exactly what the munitions were, but the Pentagon says they believe some of the destroyed material was RDX.

Is this enough, from President Bush's standpoint? It certainly should be. The obvious conclusion is that the New York Times and John Kerry shot from the hip, accusing the Army of incompetence when they didn't know the facts. They relied on a patently self-serving and anti-Bush letter from Mohammed El Baradei, a less-than-honest U.N. bureaucrat. It is quite likely that the allegedly missing explosives have been accounted for; around half disappeared before January 2003, according to the IAEA's own records, and the remainder was most likely destroyed by American troops. (The total amount at issue, 377 tons, represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the munitions the U.S. Army has destroyed in Iraq.)

. . .

HINDROCKET adds: This could be the death knell for the Kerry campaign. He has staked a lot on this story without having any idea whether it was true or not. If the evidence is that 200+ tons were destroyed by our forces, then, along with the 100+ tons that disappeared while they were being "guarded" by the U.N., the 370 tons are accounted for, and Kerry has falsely accused our Army of incompetence.

Oh, but this is totally consistent with what these guys have been saying all along: We're the real terrorists! The U.S. Army took the explosives? Oh no! Can you imagine those weapons in the hands of the U.S. Army?! President Bush's incompetence is made all the more starkly obvious by his allowing the munitions to fall into the dangerous hands of our own troops!

It would be interesting to know how many Kerry supporters will take into serious consideration the implications of how Kerry handled this breaking news story before all the facts were known, and what kind of President it indicates he might be.

I hope for the sake of my sanity that there are some.

Thursday, October 28, 2004
22:25 - Does this count as child abuse?
http://www.thestranger.com/current/special.html

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Okay... I can appreciate the humorous intent of this site. I can giggle at a few of the costumes, even. I can offer kudos for the quality of the presentation and the work that clearly went into it.
The Littlest Prisoner at Abu Ghraib

Your child will be the hit of the neighborhood costume parade in this recreation of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal's most indelible image. As an added bonus this easy-to-make costume will remind everyone on your child's trick-or-treat route of our national shame! Simply roll a cone from a sheet of 24"x38" black cardstock, making sure to cut out a hole for the face. Drape with two yards of black felt, and add leftover wires from your last lamp-rewiring project. VoilÀ! So easy, so quick, and so terrifying!

Total cost: Under $20.
Total time: Under two hours.


... But I find I just have to wonder what these kids will think of this, say, ten years from now, after they've had a chance to mature and learn some history on their own.

I've just gotta say I'm getting really tired of having to point out yet again that of the DNC and the RNC, only one herded its protesters into a razor-wire-guarded "free speech zone", and its first initial was not R.

Ah well. It's not like anybody cares about those stupid fact things. We may as well just get used to it: the more pervasive instant communication and documentation gets, the more pervasive instant fraud gets too, and truth is no closer to being objective even with cell-phone cameras and blogging typography experts working the trenches.

At any rate. One more observation about the costumes: many of the kids clearly have no idea what's going on; but the kid in the Richard Reid costume looks like he gets it all too well...


13:19 - I can see clearly now

(top)
The iPod Photo has lots of treats for us even if we never use its photo-displaying capabilities:



Color screen with higher definition than the standard iPod screen—and every last bit of the interface has been revamped to take advantage of color. So you get to see album art along with your track info. Calendars are color-coded just like in iCal. The games are now in full color, as are the various icons for charging, connecting, star rating, and everything else. And the progress bar for when you're listening to a song is now Aqua-fied, tying the platform-neutral iPod's interface to the Mac with more certainty than anything since the Chicago font and the Column View-style navigation.

Is it smart to keep stubbornly making the iPod feel more at home on a Mac than on a PC? Hell yes. If they believe in the UI concepts of Mac OS X, then Windows users should feel right at home using the iPod's interface whether it looks like Windows or not. Besides, can you imagine a Windows-look iPod interface? Gray screen backgrounds? "Tree"-style navigation? Progress bars made up of those chunky blue rectangles?

Anyway, then there's all the photo stuff which I'd love to play with one of these days: the new iPod Dock comes with an S-Video out port as well as composite audio/video, and you can create slide shows with background music just like in iPhoto—though it may be that you're supposed to simply play music of your choice manually in the background once you've begun a photo slide show. I wanna see how this works.

However, those people who think this development prefigures an inevitable iPod Movie with video playback capability (and attendant iTunes-style video store) will probably be disappointed by this interview published the day before the iPod Photo was announced:

While Milunovich is quick to note that a photo iPod "makes sense" and that Apple executives he spoke with did not reject the idea of such a device, he doesn't expect Apple will release such a device until the first-half of next year. While Think Secret stands by our original photo iPod report from three weeks ago, the possibility always remains--as with any product in production--that production-snags may cause the device to miss its intended holiday season roll-out.

Milunovich dismisses the notion that a video iPod may follow after a photo iPod, echoing previous sentiments from Apple executives. "In our discussions with management about usage patterns, it is clear that a Video iPod (for playing movies) gets the thumbs down," he writes. Apple simply doesn't see a strong a device that would require users to view a movie on a small screen for an extended period of time.

Maybe that's just Apple hedging... but it doesn't sound like it. Apple has a way of holding back on products that they don't feel are marketable; it's why they never sold a Tablet PC or a PDA, even though both classes of product have been repeatedly sighted in Apple's R&D labs over the past five to ten years. In the case of the Tablet PC, considering how slowly they're catching on, one can hardly say Apple missed the boat. They tend to have a pretty good ear for gauging how well the public will respond to some new class of product; remember how skeptical all the pundits were that the iPod would ever sell? Remember how everyone was poised to mock it as the next Newton?

So while it seems like a no-brainer for Apple to move next into video sales and playback in the iTunes idiom, I just don't see it. They've clearly explored the idea and found it wanting. People just don't interact with video the way they do with music; remember, music is a passive form of entertainment, something you can just sort of push aside and treat as a soundtrack as you concentrate on getting your work done. How do you do that with video? You have to stare constantly at a screen for video to make any sense. It requires all your attention. Are you really going to stare into a two-inch screen to watch a video you've paid real money for? I suppose at that resolution it might actually be feasible to download feature-length movies through an iTunes-like storefront, but if they want to compete with DVD sales/rentals and the broadcast and cable media, the customers will demand hi-fi video, something they can stream out to the HDTV through the Dock connector. That ain't happening in the iPod paradigm, not when the technology is converging onto other devices like on-demand satellite service and HD TiVo. The iPod won't be a player here.

So I think looking excitedly beyond photos to something even more revolutionary is a little too optimistic; photo capability will have to do for now. And really, that's fine; this is a pretty impressive product for that functionality alone. And there's already plenty more in the way of goodies for us to play with.


12:52 - Those Wacky Kennedys

(top)
Heh. Look who else is turning to SPAM as the preferred method of stumping for a vote: John Joseph Kennedy.

The most critical truth is that the four primary candidates for the highest offices in our land, Mr. George W. Bush, Mr. Dick Cheney, Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards all voted for the war in Iraq. Period. Each man had an opportunity for greatness and they failed.

John Kerry and John Edwards are followers. They are not leaders! They failed the American people and the world. Their names are forever etched in history along with Ms. Hillary Clinton and all the so-called leaders who voted for the war in Irag and for the Patriot Act, thus raping the American people of our Constitutional Rights, especially our rights to personal privacy.

I am just one man; one proud American citizen with a political legacy that began 125 years ago. Although many American's were afraid to speak out, or were crucified for standing up against this war, I strongly spoke out against it as loud as I could. I warned of the perils it would bring to all of us. I sent letters to the Oval Office, Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, Senators and members of Congress. I had it circulated to more than 10,000 people around the world and to the media. I appeared on television, “Voices Over Violence” and warned of the danger to America if Mr. Bush proceeded with this evil war.

That's from an e-mail I received from him, quite unsolicited. See, this is what I mean when I talk about setting an ugly precedent. What kind of world are we signing up for, when our political views are to be shaped by spam flooding our content channels and bullying at the polls?

Frickin' Kennedys. I guess Arnie's not having much luck bringing sanity to the dynasty.


11:48 - Are we a meme yet?
http://www.cbronline.com/article_news.asp?guid=36E9FADA-5065-4085-ABE7-735A84C3BB5A

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Can you believe this? SCO is trying to reinvent itself by invoking the mighty name of iTunes.

"With SCO Marketplace, the first phase is to get new developers in, and phase two is to create an iTunes for business applications market place, if you will," McBride told ComputerWire. "The second layer to growth is the new application layer."

Alluding to the way Apple responded to the problem of music file-sharing by launching a cheap and easily accessible legal market place, he said: "We believe there's a corollary there, an open model for a bigger distribution engine for online applications, following the lead that Apple set in the music business."

SCO is not the first software vendor to look to emulate Apple's iTunes success. In February, the CEO of Adobe Systems Inc, Bruce Chizen, said the company was considering launching the equivalent of Apple's iTunes, but for digital imaging.

As Chris (who found this link) says, man, that's a tenuous link. But it's oddly revealing, isn't it, that Apple and iTunes have become the gold standard for how a technology company reinvents an ossified market segment in the modern age?

Now that McBride has grabbed headlines by uttering the magic incantation word iTunes, his task is to somehow convince us how a "business applications marketplace" has anything whatsoever to do with the iTunes interface model, storefront model, or any other kind of model.

As Chris puts it:

And... Perhaps (iTunes) if we (iTunes) mention ITunes enough (iTunes) perhaps our itumes-itunes-pressrelease-itunes will show up on iTunes google searches for iTunes-iTunes - Darl "iTunes" McBride.

Bets on whether it'll work?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
03:49 - Genius
http://www.hugi.is/hahradi/bigboxes.php?box_id=51208&f_id=1159

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Somehow, the musical selection for this video is even more inspired than the actual star of the video.

Looks like that thing is easier to fly than crash, though... yikes!

UPDATE: Sweet! You can by the kit for the thing here. (Thanks to James S.!)


19:25 - Microsoft is spamming FUD
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=2004102717385992

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What-ho, guess what I just got in my inbox? Why, one of these: an unsolicited e-mail from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attacking Linux on the basis of "indemnification".

What did I do to get on Ballmer's distribution list? (Yes, I checked the headers—the e-mail originated on a server within microsoft.com, received directly from an internal 10.x.x.x address.) Apparently I'm either a subscriber to Microsoft's executive bulletins (which I'm not), or one of the "other business decision makers and IT professionals" that didn't move quickly enough to get out of the line of fire.

So now I'm the lucky recipient of legitimate Microsoft SPAM. That's their new marketing plan. Wonderful, huh?

And Groklaw has a searing takedown of its central point, too:

If I got that email, I believe I'd ask Microsoft for indemnification for viruses and malware. No? They don't offer that? Zounds. That seems like a more common threat than patent infringement, don't you think? I believe they should offer that right away. Yes, definitely. I suggest you all ask for that, those of you stuck in the Windows world, right away. Virus indemnification. That's the ticket. After all, such troubles do affect your total cost of ownership to a significant degree, don't they? Then there's the worry that you might get sued after one of your employees unwittingly sends a virus to another company. For sure, we need some studies on the true total cost of using Windows.

Does this bizarre move smack of anything but desperation? I can't see why they'd do this if they weren't scared to death.


12:40 - Hesh the Bunny
http://www.madman.com.au/tism/bunny/

(top)
Hey, wanna see some completely awesome animation?

This guy sooo needs a big-time contract. Too bad feature animation is a thing of the past nowadays...

(The two versions are the same, except the "Album Edit" is in widescreen and has more at the end, and the "Radio Edit" is cropped to 4x3. The former's better.)

UPDATE: Oh no! I've been Lileksed. Okay, in the interest of hammering a wedge into the Slashdot effect and sending WaPo-originating cascade link-through-ers to multiple places instead of just pounding one flat, here's the Flash version, which reveals the name of the gifted animator/director (Bernard Derriman), and is much more satisfyingly detailed if you've got a machine that likes exercise and a nice big monitor.

Oh, and regarding James' comments about the song's content:

I just want this song to mean nothing to her when she's 14, you know? NOTHING. I want it to make as much sense as someone singing the periodic table in Esperanto, backwards.

You know, that may be a moot point: the lyrics pretty much mean nothing to me. But that's just because (aside from the main chorus and title lines) it's kinda hard to make them out through the Compressed Pub Strine algorithm...

Must be new, too—the lyrics aren't here, or anywhere, yet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
13:45 - Eeeeeeee!
http://www.apple.com/ipodphoto/

(top)


Damn you, Apple!

UPDATE: By the way, if your iPod gets a scratchy back, you always have this option...

UPDATE: Oh yes, and the pundits at last have their black iPod...


13:05 - Okay, this isn't funny anymore
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=13297_NYT_Missing_Explosives-_A_Fraud

(top)
So let me get this straight:

Sent to me by a source in the government: “The Iraqi explosives story is a fraud. These weapons were not there when US troops went to this site in 2003. The IAEA and its head, the anti-American Mohammed El Baradei, leaked a false letter on this issue to the media to embarrass the Bush administration. The US is trying to deny El Baradei a second term and we have been on his case for missing the Libyan nuclear weapons program and for weakness on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.”

Which means:

News of missing explosives in Iraq — first reported in April 2003 — was being resurrected for a 60 MINUTES election eve broadcast designed to knock the Bush administration into a crisis mode.

Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 MINUTES, said in a statement that “our plan was to run the story on October 31.”

. . .

An NBCNEWS crew embedded with troops moved in to secure the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility on April 10, 2003, one day after the liberation of Iraq. According to NBCNEWS, the explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived.

. . .

CBSNEWS’ plan to unleash the story just 24 hours before election day had one senior Bush official outraged.

“Darn, I wanted to see the forged documents to show how this was somehow covered up,” the Bush source, who asked not to be named, mocked, recalling last months CBS airing of fraudulent Bush national guard letters.

So CBS is not only not chastened by the Rathergate business, they're doing more of the same.

And they're just as incompetent about it, too: they couldn't wrangle this story into the time slot they were hoping for (the same one as the Bush DUI story from 2000), so it got out too early—early enough for everybody to instantly expose it as another big godddamned fraud.

Why does CBS still have a broadcasting license?!

This isn't even about typewriter fonts and thin wheedling excuses that certain kinds of Word documents might possibly, given the right alignment of planets and a National Guard officer with a sufficiently insane high-end typography hobby, have been produced in 1970, an argument that could just peter out over the course of weeks and fall out of the public consciousness as they got lost in details of kerning and superscripts. No... this is about an easily verifiable story that they are baldfacedly lying about with the explicit purpose of influencing the election. The difference between this and, say, claiming on Halloween evening that Bush was never in fact the governor of Texas and instead spent those years drinking rum in Tahiti while an inflatable version of himself received fellatio in the Texas State House is now reduced to mere vocabulary.

This is absolutely ridiculous. It's making a mockery of our electoral system, once the envy of the world. Small wonder the UN thinks our election is worth monitoring, while they can't even bring themselves to find fault with the one in Afghanistan. These media organs have become so blatantly partisan, and so disingenuous about it, and yet so convinced of their own immunity from doubt or scorn, that they quite literally think they can get away with anything. If one manufactured scandal doesn't work, well, just make up another one, a bigger one. Who's gonna doubt them, a bunch of Web-surfing geeks in pajamas?

CBS's credibility has been living a charmed life ever since Rathergate, somehow miraculously not crashing through the thin ice. Now they're jumping up and down and cackling.

It probably still won't break.

UPDATE: Oh, and note that in that first article, John Kerry couldn't wait to use the original leak of the story to grab a microphone and blame Bush for somehow being responsible for letting these 380 tons of explosives go missing.

Kerry said terrorists could use the material “to kill our troops, our people, blow up airplanes and level buildings.”

“This is one of the great blunders of Iraq, one of the greatest blunders of this administration and the incredible incompetence of this president and this administration has put our troops at risk and this country at greater risk.”

Couldn't even wait for your own fact-checkers to give you the green-light, could you, John? Care to issue an apology?

Maybe admit your collusion with CBS, or something?

UPDATE: Someone should get MoveOn.org in on this whole Internet thing:

Every day, the tragedy in Iraq deepens. On Sunday, newspapers reported the execution of 49 members of the Iraqi National Guard, who were lined up and executed at the hands of insurgents. And yesterday, the New York Times reported that hundreds of thousands of pounds of deadly explosives in Iraq have gone missing, looted from a facility that was left unprotected by the U.S. Army. Yet George Bush says everything's going fine.

Maybe it's the Times that's lying, you freaks, not Bush.

UPDATE: And now Kerry is running an ad centered on this "story".

Geez louise. Are we in a race condition here? Is the Kerry campaign specifically, cynically trying to get as many bogus memes into the water as possible in this last week before the election, just to be as loud and chaotic as possible so there won't be any chance for the administration to post a defense in time, or for the public to absorb it if they do?

If they win, how will they live with themselves once everything calms down and they start to reflect on what precedent they've set this year?

Do they even care?

UPDATE: Bob P. e-mails:

How news travels....on the main 6o'clock news yesterday the missing 380 tons of explosives was the lead story on New Zealand's channel one, and they even claimed that the explosives "could be used to trigger a nuclear device"

And the dems say that it's *Bush* trading in fear....

I seriously don't know if I can take another week of this...

Monday, October 25, 2004
23:30 - "Droopy Dog stretched out on a torture rack"
http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2451

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This is a rare treat: Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons of SomethingAwful.com has weighed in with one of his trademark "serious" articles, the kind that the site's usual patrons probably find annoying and tedious but which end up being quite relevant to the issues at hand. It's a unique perspective, not least because Parsons apparently has first-hand knowledge of both candidates, but also because he's, well, a SomethingAwful writer above all else.

Back then Kerry was near the bottom of a pretty thick pile, two days ago when I met him for the second time he was fighting desperately to stay on top of a much smaller heap. I wasn't looking to meet John Kerry, I was working on a story about his operatives. Most strikingly, when I shook hands with him again he looked like a faded piece of cloth. The pace of non-stop This is the Fucking End campaigning had taken its toll on him. His grip was firm, but he barely even glanced at me. I and the rest of the crowd were just meaty appendages on a good will conveyor for him. If it had been possible I think he would have continued talking to one of his aides while kissing the baby being extended to him.

Granted, he's no partisan—which is good, but which also means he's a little irritatingly credulous of hyperbolic accusations regarding Bush (like the "loyalty oath" thing and the "dissenters will be crushed" thing), but I have to wonder how much of that is just the usual "For the SA Goons' consumption" stuff. It's even-handedly hyperbolic, though, so no complaints here.

Quite a few giggles, though.


17:08 - I guess we're officially in the home stretch now

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C'mooooon, next Tuesday.





Are we there yet?


12:45 - Even grumpy conservatives like Macs
http://www.nationalreview.com/frum/diary101804.asp#042910

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David From of National Review Online comes out of the closet:

I've never looked back. The Powerbook is the Ferrari of computers, beautiful, sleek, superb, intelligent. Every once in a while I have a problem with it and get grumbly - and then I have an evening like tonight's, where I wasted two hours on my kids' PCs, trying to make Windows do something that ought to be obvious and logical and never is.

I am now a Mac enthusiast, maybe even a Mac bore. But every once in a while I worry: Will the company still be there a year from now? Is my Powerbook like some beautiful blossom in a Romantic sonnet, too lovely to live? Then I hear that Apple is making money hand over fist, and I breath calm again.

The infiltration continues. See, when Apple's making money with a successful business plan, you don't have to be an anti-corporate rabble-rouser to be a Mac fan with a clear conscience!

Via JMH.

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© Brian Tiemann