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



Cars without compromise.





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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
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 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
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 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, July 16, 2005
17:17 - You don't win friends with salad

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Normally we host a Friday night gathering here, with four to (historically) dozens of friends over. It's been quieter in recent years—smaller house, smaller ambitions, smaller circle of friends, you know how it goes. And because my roommate (who usually does the cooking) is out of town all week, last night was the first Friday night that I attempted hosting all on my own.

In other words, it's the first time I ever cooked on my own. And much to my surprise, I think it went off pretty well.

We did burgers, with onion soup mix kneaded into the meat; we had oven fries and corn on the cob. And a bowl of cherries beforehand, and a pie afterward. Fed all four of us (myself and three friends) handsomely. Surely not the most lavish of spreads—but there were no notable mishaps and it all turned out quite tasty.

There's even some hamburger left over for tonight. I'll have to see how adventuresome I am when it comes time to tackle it.

(Okay, so the main reason I wanted people to come over was to help keep Banzai occupied with his non-stop tug-o-war and racing about the house, but they seemed happy to share this burden.)

Friday, July 15, 2005
18:10 - I know politics bore you, but I feel like a hypocrite talking to you

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Dean Barnett and Lileks both call attention, each with an essay well worth reading, to a fact that we in blogland tend to forget: most people don't care.

About the big issues, yes, they do. But not about the details.

Now that the Rove/Plame thing seems to be over, and good riddance to it, I have to wonder how many people in America even know who Karl Rove is—let alone Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson. Probably fewer than we would imagine even in our hedging estimates.

And I think this phenomenon isn't poised to change anytime soon, if this quote from the linked Slate article is any indication:

Plucky liberal Joshua Micah Marshall offers what he hopes will be the Democratic line on the scandal. "The entire Wilson/Plame story and the Rove/White House criminal probe sub-story are just so many threads thrown off a much larger and more consquential ball of yarn: the administration's use of fraudulent evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program to seal the deal for war on Iraq with the American people," he writes at TPMCafe.

You know what? To the American public, for whom the news is a story that unfolds over the course of years rather than hours, Iraq isn't this writhing chimaera of moral equivalence that it's been dolled up as by Michael Moore and the MTV scene; it's not about IEDs and speeding Italian reporters and plastic turkeys and tote boards listing how many WMDs have been found and of what type and whether any of them have Osama bin Laden's autograph on them. It's about Gulf War 1. It's about Kuwait. It's about SCUDs versus Patriots. It's about no-fly zones. It's about Clinton firing in cruise missiles. It's about the comedians of the 90s who urged us to worry more about Saddam Hussein than about stained blue dresses. And it's about mass graves. Lots and lots of mass graves.

We knew, in our collective souls, by the evening of 9/11 that the face of the Middle East would have to change, and that we'd be the ones who would have to do it. We sat down to somber dinner imagining the grim job ahead of our military, the one we knew we'd ask them to undertake. We knew that routing some medieval theocrats from a comically faraway country in the mountainous outskirts of the old Soviet world wasn't going to be the end of the story begun with those planes and those fireballs and those falling monoliths. We knew a lot more countries than just Afghanistan were going to have to learn to fear the living crap out of us. And Iraq, we knew, was a damned good place to start.

Just as the WMD question is irrelevant and silly to the Iraqi man on the street who remembers life under Saddam, and just as aging rockers are irrelevant to peasants in African countries kept too poor and sheltered from the outside world by their respective despots to know that Live8 had even taken place, the details of Saddam's alleged nuclear ambitions aren't even on the table for most Americans. We already know him: he's Saddam Hussein. We remember him from last time. We knew him when he was clean-shaven and grinning in a beret, not just as a sad and decrepit bearded prisoner in BVDs. The daily tide of news that springs forth upon the blogosphere fully formed and devoid of long-term context largely passes by the general public, to whom 9/11 is still far too real and present to turn into a schoolyard joke, like the ones we learned by rote as kids about Nazis keeping their armies up their sleevies, without even knowing what Nazis were.

It's not that people are disinterested; it's that they've got different priorities. Most people know full well that Saddam never posed a direct threat to them, specifically; but then, most people understood that although they'd had no plans to travel to New York and visit the World Trade Center on a Tuesday morning a few years ago, that doesn't mean 9/11 has no relevance to them. Despite what Moore might say, it's not all about whether New York made a good target based on the political makeup of the city and who voted for whom in 2000. Most people are less fine-grained in their alliances, less fickle, less provincial. Most people see the bigger picture.

To most people, getting rid of Saddam was a clear benefit that needed to be achieved—hell, we'd been arguing in favor of it for years, and now the people wailing that it was a mistake look like guys who stumbled drunk into the movie theater halfway through and loudly demanded to know what that guy on the screen was doing and why he just said that to her. We're too busy to dispense plot summaries for those whose attention spans don't extend past last night's rave.

We know there's more to come, too. The London bombing, most people understand, isn't about "retaliation" for slights in Iraq recognized in the past six months, any more than 9/11 was a response to the policies of Israeli prime ministers enacted after it happened. These things take time to plan. They also require secrecy, and sometimes we fail to stop them. Sometimes the bad guys get away. People watch enough CSI to understand that. And whereas the blogosphere and the news infrastructure often fail equally badly to apply Occam's Razor to any given situation in the news, to call terrorists "terrorists" and to take them at their word when they declare war on us, to presume that it's not a conspiracy about oil and Halliburton and stolen elections and racism, to give our elected leaders the benefit of the doubt when they tell us they're doing the best they can, the public at large is expert at it—and we could stand to take a lesson from them.

The mainstream news media's hemorrhaging of viewership has to be attributable to such things as, well, that people are sick of hearing bad news—bad news might sell, but not when we're still feeling like we're in the mood for some of the good stuff. And relentless coverage of Michael Jackson trials and runaway brides doesn't help. What we want is to see some righteous ass-kicking. We know we're entitled to dispense some, and we're in no mood to be told to sit down and shut up and listen to boring details of yellowcake and out-of-context memos and he-said-she-said rumormongering. We saw those towers fall. We saw those tube bombs go off. We heard what that asshole in Amsterdam said, and we're listening now to what London's dry-brush-in-summertime contingent has to say. This is no time for self-reflection. This is no time to wonder whether this is what it must have felt like in Germany in 1938, with all that implies. The endless news-chewers of the blogosphere think they've got a great handle on what's going on in the world, but perhaps it's the core Jacksonians who are our last best hope for seeing this thing through—and we have to remind ourselves that there are enough of them out there that perhaps we don't have to worry so much.


17:29 - Being dooooomed is a pretty sweet gig
http://www.thinksecret.com/news/0507q305.html

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Hey, this is interesting:

Apple Computer reported a $320 million profit for its fiscal third quarter on revenue of $3.52 billion, the highest in company history. Revenue growth was up 75 percent year-over-year, while profits more than quadrupled.

Apple shipped 1.182 million Macs during the quarter, the highest quarterly figure in four years and a testament to the iPod's "halo effect." iPod sales came in at 6.155 million units.

Laptop sales at 495,000 were the highest ever, despite a lack of iBook and PowerBook revisions during the quarter. PowerBooks were modestly updated in February, while current iBook models are almost 10 months old.

Record laptop sales, even with old models with no G5s? Record Mac sales, even with Intel Macs on the horizon and depressing sales? What is this?

Apple's music business generated 38 percent of the company's revenue for the quarter, or $1.344 billion. The iTunes Music Store operated above break-even during the quarter, as Apple approaches nearly 500 million songs sold.

38 percent. Thirty-eight percent. A segment of their business that didn't exist a little over two years ago, and now it's more than a third of their revenue. True, this is mostly iPod money (since the iTMS is still the closest thing to a "loss leader" that appears in this stellar lineup of numbers), and iPods have been around since late 2001, but still—even that's pretty remarkable for a company so laser-focused on an unchanging message over the years. With any other company, analysts would be falling all over themselves trying to come to terms with the schizophrenia of a company achieving startling breakout in a segment of its business that for twenty years had simply not existed. But with Apple, somehow, it all just seems to fit together.

Now all we need is for their stock to tank, as it always does when spectacular financial news is released, and all will be well with the world.

Thursday, July 14, 2005
13:53 - She knows the phony prince's body is hidden in the boat house
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20050714144923365

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I don't know who-all has been following the tortuous SCO-vs-Linux legal war over the past few years, but if anyone out there has, this latest little bit of fun news (which comes to be via Chris, who studies it with great passion) ought to make for great reading.

If this doesn't make your blood boil, see your doctor right away.

We have obtained the August 13, 2002 Michael Davidson email to Reg Broughton, who forwarded it to Darl McBride with a cover note. It was previously sealed, and you can see why SCO would want it to be. It records Davidson's memories of Bob Swartz' earlier months-long code comparison between Linux and several versions of AT&T's Unix for oldSCO . . .

In that sealed note was confirmation, dating to before Darl McBride was hired as CEO, that Linux had no SCO-copyrighted code in it whatsoever, and that therefore the entire basis for SCO's lawsuit (a petulant foot-stamping insistence that Linux couldn't possibly have been created without violating SCO's intellectual-property rights) was bogus from the day McBride took office and before.

"This is shareholder lawsuit city," says Chris. But since SCO has been on a direct life-support pipeline from Microsoft and Sun for years now, those companies now either get to sue SCO into smithereens... or else were in on it.

In which case nothing will ever be heard of this scandal again.


11:14 - I'm sorry, all right... sorry I ever came back here
http://timblair.net/ee/index.php?URL=http://www.alternet.org/columnists/story/23493/

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Memo to Dick Durbin, Juan Cole, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Ward Churchill, David Ahenakew and anyone else who thinks an "apology" means saying "I'm sorry if my comments offended anybody" or "I'm sorry some people are so petty as to demand that my numbers be accurate": this is how it's done.

This is a horror. In a column written June 28, I asserted that more Iraqis (civilians) had now been killed in this war than had been killed by Saddam Hussein over his 24-year rule. WRONG. Really, really wrong ... I could hardly have been more wrong, no matter how you count Saddam’s killing of civilians. According to Human Rights Watch, Hussein killed several hundred thousand of his fellow citizens. The massacre of the Kurdish Barzani tribe in 1983 killed at least 8,000; the infamous gas attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja killed 5,000 in 1988; and seized documents from Iraqi security organizations show 182,000 were murdered during the Anfal ethnic cleansing campaign against Kurds, also in 1988 ...

My sincere apologies. It is unforgivable of me not have checked. I am so sorry.

I've said it before: the ability to say "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong," directly and honestly and without couching it in a veiled slap at the vindicated accusers or professing wounded moral rectitude, is an important life skill that very few people seem to learn. Phony, unrepentant apologies are a stupid way to get people to like you—and that goes for politicians as well as bloggers and journalists and everybody else. If you own up to your mistakes, people will respect you better than if you obfuscate and try to convince everyone you were right all along. Especially if you're so demonstrably, spectacularly mistaken.

Whatever Molly Ivins' faults, she's so far beyond all the above-listed crocodile-tear-drippers she's lapped them twice.

Via Tim Blair.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
18:35 - This week on "How To Do It"...
http://timblair.net/ee/index.php/weblog/comments/superior_strategies_invited/

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Tim Blair asks: "You are the President of the United States on September 11, 2001. How do you respond to the attacks of that day, and to the wider issues of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq?"

The ensuing discussion is very revealing.


10:04 - Pun density reaching critical, Captain
http://daemlich.net/9246

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Someone went to waaay too much effort putting together this iPod gag. But dang, it's worth it.

I can't seem to get it to play all the way through without Windows Media Player suddenly going into Buffering mode and never recovering, though. Ah well—maybe you'll have more luck...

Via BrianD.

UPDATE: Here's the same video in "It Works" format, also known as QuickTime.

Via Chris M.

Monday, July 11, 2005
17:50 - Hanging on in quiet desperation

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So I was reading this Hitchens piece (in which he makes the assertion that "By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq are the root cause of dead bodies at home. How can anyone bear to be so wicked and stupid?" —without really explaining himself, which he really ought to do, because plenty of people see no logical disconnect there, regrettably enough); but over on the sidebar I saw this:

Tony Parsons
IN THE aftermath of Thursday's mass murder, it was one of the first pieces of breaking news: the Muslim Council of Great Britain had been sent so many hate emails that its computers had crashed.

I immediately thought, bullshoes. Do you know how many e-mail messages a modest Pentium-III-class server can handle per second? Anyone peddling a line like the above, as the mainstream press in Britain apparently did in the immediate aftermath of the attack, would simply have to be playing cynically on the public's general assumptions not only that right below the surface of polite Western multicultural society lies a stratum of bestial rabble hurling itself against its fragile bonds laid upon it by their moral betters and shouting invective at anybody with skin darker than a mocha latté—but that computers crash. Hey, doesn't yours?

Mail servers don't "crash". Gimme a break. Think about how much spam you get, and marvel at the abilities of mail servers all over the Internet to get it to you and all the other untold millions of lucky recipients. All without "crashing". Bogging down, perhaps. Refusing connections temporarily, sure. But an overload of traffic doesn't crash a dang thing.

To paint a phantasmagoria of so much vitriol being spewed out of a British troglodyte underclass that it dwarfs the volume of spam that's so effortlessly passed around the Net these days is stupefyingly dishonest on its face. Perhaps the MCGB received some nastygrams. I don't doubt that one bit. But it's painfully transparent that someone saw a PR opportunity in those one or two examples of the kind of shaven-head distorted Britishness that the unfortunate few saw in Pink Floyd's The Wall movie, and decided to tell the press that they'd received so many pieces of hate-mail that ... well, we received a lot, okay? So many, in fact, that.... [leaning in close] ...Why, it crashed our e-mail server!

Who could refuse to run with a headline like that? It's got everything: confirmation of latent bigotry, an angle of self-blame, and a hook to engage the readership: stupid crashing computers.

So when I finished the Hitchens piece, I clicked on over to read the whole piece. (No permalink yet; if it's no longer the front-page article, it's "FOR SHAHARA'S SAKE, DON'T HATE MUSLIMS".) And lo! What to my wondering eyes should appear?

Not true. Or at least, it is not true that so many people felt a sudden loathing for Muslims that they were compelled to bombard the Muslim Council of Great Britain with hate email.

Because it now turns out that 30,000 emails were sent to the Muslim Council from just one source.

Imagine that. And I'll bet it was totally genuine. Wasn't "planted" at all. No way.

The rest of the article is good, too. I hope to see a lot more of the attitude this guy shows: one that both sides of the aisle can agree on, like we did in those long-bygone days following 9/11, where Left or Right, we could all agree that there was a real threat that needed to be neutralized, and that it could not be identified by any means so easy as "race" or "religion". Not that that means it's too hard to attempt. It's crucial that we do.

But it doesn't help one bit for rabble-rousers like whoever sent the 30,000 bogus hate-spams, or the operative who parlayed them to the press as a grass-roots deluge of bloodline-purgers that brought SMTP servers to a tottering halt, to cynically try to convince us in the Western world that we're too socially diseased to presume to try to defend ourselves.

We know ourselves better than that.

UPDATE: Specifically, no, we don't need to "hate" smiling Shahara Islam... but we do need a way to put the fear of God, as it were, into these people. Seriously. Now. (Via LGF.)


16:31 - Starving artist? Make $$$!!1
http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-0507100492jul11,1,7431785.story?coll=ch

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Subtle changes are afoot at the Apple Stores, apparently: there are enough customers grilling the Genius Bar guys about how to do creative stuff (Photoshoppery, music composition, filmmaking) that it's warranted Apple shifting toward setting up "Studios" and hiring "Creatives" to staff them.

"People don't believe that it's free, and that they can ask as many questions as they like," said Jacy Escoffier, one of the six "Creatives" staffing the Studio in the San Francisco store.

Johnson won't say how much Apple is investing in the Studios and in hiring Creatives, other than to describe the amount as "appropriate." Apple stores had sales of $1.1 billion, or 16.4 percent of the company's total revenue, in the first half of its fiscal year.

When Apple opened its first retail stores in Glendale, Calif., and in Tysons Corner, Va., in 2001, it introduced its Genius Bars, where staff members gave advice on technical issues.

But the "Geniuses" were increasingly fielding questions about creative products that were beyond their expertise. So Apple set up Studios and hired Creatives.

"When you have access to someone who's done it before, they can quickly guide you in the direction to make what seems difficult easy," Johnson said.

"We thought: Wouldn't it be great to put in our stores real filmmakers, real musicians, real photographers, real videographers ... and let them provide face-to-face support."

"Appropriate". I wonder if that equates to otherwise-underemployable artsy types finally having an inroad to a professional's salary, all while remaining within their field of expertise and fulfillment? Talk about win-win.

Via evariste.

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