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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 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
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12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
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10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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 4/12/2004 -  4/18/2004
  4/5/2004 -  4/11/2004
 3/29/2004 -   4/4/2004
 3/22/2004 -  3/28/2004
 3/15/2004 -  3/21/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
 12/8/2003 - 12/14/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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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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  9/2/2002 -   9/8/2002
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  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
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  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
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 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
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 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
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 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 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
Sunday, October 30, 2005
01:13 - Stare-based community

(top)
The Adult Swim bumpmeisters have been poking viewers in the ribs for a couple of weeks now, clearing their throats, and whispering with unaccustomed earnestness in our ears. They really want it made clear that Something Important Is Coming™. Something too important for irreverence. Something massive.

Namely, Boondocks.

We just thought we should let you know
This whole Boondocks thing
which premieres November 6th
is TV-MA.
Which doesn't just mean it's not for kids.
It also means it's for those mature enough
to handle certain things.
Like reality.

<pause>

Oh, and by "reality"
we mean racism.
[adult swim]

Uh huh.

This is the show whose teaser for the past three weeks has been Huey, in camo fatigues, walking up to a microphone at some kind of fancy white-bread dinner event, tapping it, and saying:

Excuse me? Everybody, I've got a brief announcement:
Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11.
Thank you, and good night.

Why do I get this pernicious feeling that my conception of "reality" isn't about to undergo some huge upheaval?

I guess it goes to show they know their viewership, though. Who but ironic, solipsistic, disillusioned, self-parodying, self-loathing young hipsters watches this block anyway?

Hell, why didn't they just give Ted Rall or Tom Tomorrow an animated series?

UPDATE: more, via LGF.

Saturday, October 29, 2005
05:21 - But is it art?
http://lizhickok.com/portfolio2.html

(top)
Of course it is.



San Francisco... the Jell-O Mold.


05:16 - Dropping the mask

(top)
Last week's South Park episode really seems to have made some waves. Not only is it the most talked-about episode I've ever yet seen in the blogosphere, it's even scored a place as the object of Zack Parsons' derision at SomethingAwful.com:

South Park recently did an episode about global warming along the same lines as Crichton's book. God knows I didn't watch it because I can get my fill of juvenile quasi-libertarianism from the Internet, but I'm guessing from the commercials I saw that the episode was about how liiiiiiieeeeberals keep making up these ridiculous doomsday scenarios about global warming that never come true. Thanks for setting things straight, South Park. I know I can rely on you to get to the bottom of issues of global importance and then thumb your nose at them and say "here's a song where Cartman calls someone a bitch." Then at the end you can have Stan give a completely straight-faced restatement of your heavy-handed yet wholly sackless political opinion in case the crayon-eating untrainables who still watch South Park failed to get your point.

Wow! They must really be earning that "edgy" badge these days, if they're drawing fire from SA. It's a matter of course that just about every entity in pop culture that pokes its head above the ledge eventually comes in for mockery on SA, to say nothing of within South Park itself; if the writers of either production actually like some other show or actor or public figure, the best compliment they can ever afford to give them is to ignore them. Public figures who appear on South Park and aren't lampooned negatively I can pretty much count on one hand—Sidney Poitier for one, Radiohead, The Simpsons, and precious few others, most of whom are treated neutrally (Bush) or as meaningless, absurdist ciphers (Robert Smith). Explicit endorsement is all but unheard-of. SA, for its part, can't afford to say anything nice about anyone or anything either, lest it look like it's not disillusioned about something.

It's pretty clear that South Park, like The Simpsons, has up till now enjoyed the lofty status of being something the SA writers didn't feel was worth picking on, because, well, they watched it themselves. (Obviously Zack knows it well enough to have a ready-made snarky reason to act like he doesn't watch it.) But now... hoo-boy, now there'll be hell to pay. South Park has officially crossed the line into the well-populated territory of shows and pop culture icons that it's hip to make fun of, and to make fun of people for watching. It used to be edgy and smart and subversive in a way that most shows that claim to be "subversive" could only dream; now it's juvenile and simplistic, the province of "crayon-eating untrainables". Ain't it funny how that works?

I think it just means they're on the right track. Especially considering that, y'know, they're like, y'know, right about so much stuff.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005
20:49 - Let's see brick-and-mortar do this

(top)
iTunes Music Store users, don't just search for the songs you know you want off the top of your head. That'd be like walking straight past the special displays in the entrance of the bookstore on the way to the dimly lit back sections. And whereas in a real bookstore you might be forgiven for assuming the display tables will only have mainstream junk you don't want, don't forget: this is iTunes. They're just now tapping the flexibility potential of this new medium.

It looks, for example, like they're spending a great deal of their time on the "iTunes Essentials" feature, which is great and engrossing fun. They've gathered together songs into hundreds of different 75-song collections, each one divided into "The Basics", "Next Steps", and "Deep Cuts" segments, and each of those pages with a text intro that someone with a great sense of humor had to write, as well as a lot of familiarity with the material in question. And they keep adding more. Above and beyond a whole bunch of genre- and artist-specific pre-culled collections, There's Halloween music, car songs, gay pride songs, New York songs, workout music, cowboy songs, and a really great one called Guilty Pleasures (I find myself wanting to hit the "Buy All" link on that one—oops, I guess I'm not supposed to admit that). There's even one called More Cowbell!—the store doesn't mind working up a whole presentation around a sly SNL/Christopher Walken injoke now and then. It's just another relation in the database, after all, another square piece of promo art, and about 2K of expository text. Add as many of these as you want! You get to do that sort of thing if you're just a database.

Whoever it is writing the text does seem a bit more enthused about the America: Protest collection than the America: Pride one, but hey, these things happen. The interface is just addictive—I could read through these all day, even if I never bought anything from them. I've certainly learned more about music doing this than spending any college weekend afternoon flipping through the shelves at Tower Records.


18:23 - Blogbert
http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/

(top)
Scott Adams is blogging.

The nominees for biggest weasels of 2005 are posted on www.dilbert.com.

Vote now. It’s your chance to embarrass the weasels who most annoyed you during the past year.

At first glance, there seems to be an imbalance of Republicans on the list. That’s because you usually have to do something to be nominated. And Democrats haven’t done much this year, either weasel or non-weasel. The Democrats who did make the list are accused of not doing enough about hurricane Katrina. That’s what people mean when they talk about the exception that proves the rule.

In case you’re wondering, I have no coherent political views of my own. The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t have the information I need to make decisions. That’s the problem with having a degree in economics. Until I ruined my worldview with education, I saw the world in terms of things that worked and things that didn’t. Now when something works well, and the rest of the world is applauding it, I wonder how much better it could have been if we did it the other way. And when a policy turns out to be a huge disaster, I wonder how much worse it would have been if the other side got their way. So let’s all agree that I shouldn’t be voting.

I knew I liked this guy.

There appears to be the promise of many snickerworthy stories to come, along the lines of the one where he explains why a cop in a recent strip was firing bullets out of a donut. (Apparently nobody complained or found it odd. They probably just didn't want to look like they didn't get the joke.) This'll probably be the best bit of officially sanctioned meta-humor since The Pre-History of The Far Side.


17:04 - Grim milestone: 2,000th headline

(top)
LGF is keeping tabs on the number of appearances of the words "grim milestone" in the media surrounding the 2,000th combat death in Iraq. From all appearances, including MSNBC banners and photo montages at large newspapers (just scroll), the media here and abroad is giving the "event" plenty of play, and sober reflection makes it hard to justify its newsworthiness on any grounds but "the media wants to manufacture anti-war sentiment". So far Charles is up to 11 sightings with that specific wording alone, and it seems the story is only gaining steam as people start firing up Photoshop and eyeing layouts for the next Time and Newsweek covers.

Well, naturally it isn't enough for MoveOn.org, who sent this mailing today:

Dear MoveOn member,

Yesterday we reached the sad milestone of 2,000 killed in Iraq. But for the most part, the national media are ignoring this tragic milestone. The men and women who died deserve better.

Together, we can help make sure the media report on this moment. At more than one thousand vigils tonight, tens of thousands of us will gather to draw focus to this sad day. We’ve also added to our campaign a respectful and emotional TV ad that honors those killed in Iraq and asks, “How many more?”

How many more headlines do you need, MoveOn.org? How many more?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
16:17 - At the "Red Table"
http://www.calendarlive.com/books/bookreview/cl-bk-oshinsky23oct23,0,4527996.story?c

(top)
In my history classes in high school, when we studied the dark and spooky McCarthy era, the subtext put forth by the teachers and the textbooks was: Of COURSE there weren't any real Communists in Hollywood. Don't be ridiculous. It was all just a big circus put on by paranoid idiots who cared more about establishing their own legacy than supporting free speech. Communists? In America? The very thought was dismissed as absurd.

As it no doubt was in the 1940s; and it left the way clear for idealistic young people, trained under the same assumptions as I was and untainted by life in the real world outside the walls of academia, to board that tantalizingly unguarded train of thought:

A number of actors and directors joined the party in this era or attached themselves to well-known Communist fronts. Cagney, who grew up in poverty, explained his motivation this way: "What the hell did I know about the ebb and flow of political movements…. It all seemed so sensible: take from the overrich, give to the poor. Distribute the wealth…. At the time, left seemed right."

In a sense, it's comforting that so little has changed... but in another sense, it's maddening.

Via Dean.

Monday, October 24, 2005
03:38 - How not to drive traffic

(top)
So Audi's slogan these days is "Never Follow".

Well, combined with certain text layout decisions, it can cause some problems. Here's an ad in this month's Road & Track:



Okay then—I won't.


16:15 - What Animates You
http://naha.cool.ne.jp/matatabiasobi/kansuto.html

(top)
Here's a piece of marvelous Flash animation forwarded by Chris.

You know... here's what this makes me think of.

In the mid-90s, everyone was predicting the imminent demise of traditional 2D animation, with pencils and cels, because—as Pixar had so ably demonstrated—three-dimensional CG animation was here to stay, and would soon drive it into oblivion. And despite the general blah level of nearly every 3D CG production in the past ten years (aside from Pixar's own, because they really know what they're doing), it seems that those pundits were right—Disney Feature Animation has been shuttered, and now the company is pumping out lavish but uninspiring entrants like Dinosaur and Chicken Little in place of the shoestring-budgeted but smorgasbord-of-belly-laughs outings like The Emperor's New Groove. Feature animation isn't what it used to be—it's now the province of high-powered studios who can afford dozens of site-licenses of expensive animation software, and the animators they hire to use them have to be as much computer geeks and physicists and wire-frame modelers as they are artists... and the latter part usually suffers as a result. (This, for example, isn't something that someone just sat down on a weekend and did on a lark for the purpose of creating an Internet meme. It's the big-budget realization of a whole freakish phenomenon in the UK, soon—perish the thought—to arrive on these shores.)

But this Flash animation illustrates one thing, to me: that the impulse to create 2D animation is not dead. It's just moved back to the grass-roots, where it began eighty years ago. Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks had their acetate and pencils and slanty desks with circular holes cut out of them; today people have their pseudo-legitimate copies of Flash and their $500 PCs. What they create fills the same niche. It's the raw, unpolished, simplified art of the Tartakovskys and the Parker/Stones and the Chapmans of the world that has all the energy and vitality these days, and it doesn't take any major training or subsidized budget to harness it.

The big-name studios may abandon traditional animation, but traditional animation will always want to exist. And thank goodness for that.


15:54 - Criminally Easy
http://alanlittle.org/weblog/indexOctober05.html#MacNetwork

(top)
Here's why Macs will never make inroads into data centers and organizations that defer all their infrastructural computer esoterica to the IT priests: said IT priests won't take kindly to something that threatens their jobs because now everyone can do it.

Plus they might not be able to figure it out in the first place, because it's too intuitive.

Alan Little has an illustration.

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© Brian Tiemann