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, November 25, 2005
12:46 - Sheee-yoot, you alien varmints!
http://news.yahoo.com/s/prweb/20051124/bs_prweb/prweb314382_1

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So if the UN can't take control of the Internet away from the US and hand its governance over to China and Cuba and North Korea, at least Canada will be able to formulate the rules by which we make contact with alien civilizations that come by Earth. Because, see, the alternative is letting the stupid Americans shoot their six-guns at 'em the moment they come onto the radar screen, yellin' Get off our proppity!

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation.

Now, totally leaving aside the obvious bizarreness of the guy's premise—and of the fact that it got a standing ovation from the intellectuals in the University of Toronto crowd—this whole thing just acts as a perfect illustration of how one could do a cartoon of global politics today. Sure, it sounds all florid and is full of multisyllabic words, but it all just boils down to some very simple, very simplistic impulses.

The idea in this case being that: Every group, race, and culture on this planet—or off it—has peaceful intentions and must be greeted with peace and accommodation. And the Americans, who are paranoid and trigger-happy and get off on randomly making war for no particular reason, will louse everything up for the rest of us.

Does that about cover it?

Now, it seems to me that even glancing at the details of the allegations makes the whole house of cards fall down. Let's assume, for example, that some alien civilization decides to come here and make contact. Now, that implies that they have faster-than-light capabilities and who knows what other technology, which certainly implies far superior weaponry than we've ever dreamed. So... if the aliens are coming here to make war on us, there's no way to even imagine that having "a forward base on the moon" would give us, who can barely get a satellite into orbit without throwing our economy for a loop, any kind of fighting chance in an "intergalactic war".

So the implication is that the US is not only so intrinsically violent and paranoid as to want to put up defenses in case the aliens should—by some off chance—not come in peace, but that we're so mortally stupid as to think it would do any good.

Know what I think? Some people, indeed the ones most lauded and laureated with the draperies of International Intellectualism, have a worldview that comes straight out of all those sci-fi movies where humans ruin their chances for Enlightenment and Uplift by being primitive and violent animals. Whereas their idea of the US's mindset, or lack thereof, comes straight out of the sci-fi movies where humanity is menaced by an implacable intergalactic plague. Our world is Independence Day and Aliens, theirs is Kodos and Kang and The Day the Earth Stood Still. We're about fending off the Klingons and Romulans, and they're about impressing Q.

Heaven forbid we should be something that didn't come out of a movie script.

All things considered, what business do we have presuming anything about the intentions or nature of any alien civilization? How do we know that disarming ourselves of all weapons is what will make the Alien Masters look kindly upon us? Isn't that just as naïve and presumptuous as the primitive Earthling societies that assumed that what the gods wanted in exchange for good weather and bountiful harvests was human sacrifice?

True, it's no less silly to put missiles on the moon, as though that would do any good if we were invaded by Reavers or Predators. But one has to admit that it's the only solution I've seen that doesn't owe its logical and moral rationale to some campy sci-fi movie. And somehow I have to imagine that if this talk about Bush persuading the military to establish a moon base is more than fantasy, there's a ream of analysis behind it that discusses tactics and technologies that Hollywood hasn't yet guessed at.

Is America's greatest failing, then, simply that we've trained Earth's politicians to think in terms of Hollywood plotlines, instead of weighing what's sensible, rational, and possible like I fantasize we did once upon a time?

(Via LGF.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005
00:59 - This is serious business
http://www.osx86project.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=68&Itemid=2

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This (via evariste) is a big relief:

First, the Rosetta emulation platform in 10.4.3 build 8F1111A has been upgraded to feature full G4 support, including Altivec. This not only adds a new layer of compatibility to Rosetta, but also improved speed for Altivec-equipped applications. This upgrade is reportedly available as a small downloadable update to build 8F1111.

I'd been wondering whether Rosetta's lack of Altivec support was due to some insurmountable physical constraint on Intel architectures, and that we'd be doomed to sluglike performance on anything that used it, like, say, Photoshop, until we shelled out for the next full-version, natively built upgrade—or whether it was just something they hadn't yet gotten around to coding. But apparently it's the latter, and the speed penalty is no longer an issue.

Now comes the question of how and whether the Intel Macs will natively support Altivec-style software. Will Intel be supplying custom chipsets with Altivec-workalike instructions and registers, either onboard or in a coprocessor? Or will Apple be smiling wanly at all those big cluster installations with Xserves running BLAST and such, and saying, "Sorry, guys—thanks for buying all those thousands of nodes for your supercomputers, and thanks for posing for all those pictures and giving all those interviews for our pro-PPC/anti-Intel marketing, but there ain't gonna be no more execution speed or power consumption advantage to going with Macs anymore"?


00:36 - This, too, is Progress™

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So now even Happy Tree Friends has an animated TV show.

Replete with segments like "Captain Capitalism", where kids berate Dick Cheney about weapons of mass destruction and Halliburton.

I'm sure there must be a reason why these guys get to feel and act as though they're the brave persecuted voiceless minority, but so far it eludes me.


14:20 - The more things change

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Is it just me, or does this look like nothing so much as a modern version of this?

Not in staked-out position, obviously, but in subtlety and skill of execution? And in being a bit of an embarrassment to those people who ostensibly agree with it?


13:53 - 'Tis the season to be guilty

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Just this morning I opened up an e-mail I'd received that began, "As we approach yet another celebration of the day my People refer to as, 'Remind me: Just why did we feed those white people so long ago?'..."

And now, via JMH, there's this:

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

And so on, and so on. One gets the point two sentences into the story, yet it continues on for twenty-one paragraphs all about our country's original sin, and how no amount of good that it did in subsequent centuries can ever raise us as a people from the mire of racist fascist genocidal religious zealots worse than anyone except the Nazis, and even then not really, let alone to a level where we can commit the mortal crime of feeling proud of ourselves for what we are, or seek to spread our national values elsewhere in the world.

I just finished reading Jon Stewart's America: The Book; and while a lot of it was funny, I couldn't help but notice the disturbing fact that certain historical jokes have become sort of obligatory, like pressure valves that keep our history from becoming too dogmatic—one of the biggest cases in point being Thomas Jefferson. The foreword was attributed to Jefferson, for reasons that seemed straightforward enough, as a silly bit of historical perspective; but after two pages of gentle dishing about the state of American politics today, the piece ended with TJ making some comment like "I'm off to enjoy some nice hot cocoa before bed" or something. Aha! A sex-with-slaves joke! The stock epithet that's become associated with Jefferson's name, like "Twice-born Dionysus" or "Charles the Fat". And indeed, in every one of the eight or ten occasions in the rest of the book where Jefferson's name came up, it was with the sole purpose in mind—or at least the sole common effect—of making a sex-with-slaves joke. It got so I could predict an oncoming sex-with-slaves gag the moment Jefferson's name was mentioned. And now I can't help but see such jokes heaving their tired bulk into sight in other parts of pop culture as well; in an episode of Family Guy, when Jefferson pops up in one of those random flashback sequences, it's so he can pose for a "family portrait"—upon which he and his family are joined by a throng of slaves. And thus do we as a culture demonstrate our penitence for following the dictates of such a monster, whose indiscretions and perceived hypocrisies overshadow even the greatest of accomplishments, until they're eventually all we remember of him.

It's as though there's an effort afoot to make it so that nothing we do or say is without its disclaimers and its carefully worded legal boundaries, such that we can't even bring up the subject of a holiday where Native Americans are involved without first offering up a loud prayer at the altar of atonement for the sins of our predecessors, prostrate on a smallpox-infested blanket, baptized in addictive firewater. That certainly seems to be the only way that people like the author of the AlterNet piece are comfortable identifying themselves as members of this accursed country at all.

It's one thing to acknowledge the brutality of history and give it its fair due. But the headlong rush to purge all our holidays—and yes, it seems that every single holiday we have is under siege from one front or another these days, and most of the assailants are coming from the philosophical direction of the author of this piece, the only exception possibly being Halloween—from our calendar seems to serve no purpose other than to try to actively convince ourselves that we're not a country worth feeling proud of. Certainly not worth rewarding with holidays.

This is what I'm talking about with the seemingly pervasive nihilism of the dyed-in-the-wool "progressive" movement. (The guy's a journalism professor; imagine that!) Its goals seem to be to make "progress" through no mechanism less than the systematic destruction of our sense of self-worth, as though only once we're ridden with national guilt akin to what the Germans deal with daily will we be able to redeem ourselves. This guy pretty much says so outright. You can't make "progress" if you already feel like you're where you want to be, after all.

And when I see comments like this one:

Anyone who thinks that if they had lived 300 years ago that they for certain would live, act, and think the same way they do now has their head in the sand. It's very likely that any one of us could have been on the forefront of the "Crush the Indians" movement. Who knows?

The fact is that regardless of how things went down in colonial America - none of us would likely exist had events not occured as they did. I am certainly not going to apologize for my existance.

I'm part American Indian. But you don't see me crying over the past. Two cultures collided and the strongest culture won. That's nature's way. Always has been, always will be.

Get over it.

... All I can do is shake my head sadly, because it's this kind of perspective that really drives people nuts. Someone who should "know better", but persists in clinging to these pernicious fantasies of the modern world being a pretty neat place and America not being half bad after all.

As other commenters point out, Thanksgiving is hardly a holiday that glorifies genocide, like Columbus Day has been successfully wrung into meaning lately. It's a counterpoint to genocide, in fact—a balancing influence, a celebration of the good intentions and spirit of brotherhood that a pretty fair number of early Americans felt toward the indigenous people here. The fact that in later centuries the inevitable culture clashes resulted in the deaths of whole populations can hardly be laid at the feet of the Pilgrims whose positive experience we're trying to preserve. They'd probably be furious that such a message, attributed to them, was now being crushed under a mountain of guilt. And so would Squanto.

And let's not even get into discussing how certain tribal customs documented by those who ran up against them first-hand, like human sacrifice and torture and the mass burning of forests for hunting, are possibly just as well not seen anymore on this continent. Our distant romanticization of the bucolic, pre-European North American wilderness and its peace-loving, nature-worshipping inhabitants gives us a nice myth to luxuriate in, but it's surely no better—and no truer—than the myth that those evil Founding Fathers somehow managed to come up with a pretty neat Constitution that at least in its letter and spirit condemns the very kind of injustice that was and continues to be wrought in spite of it, not because of it.

UPDATE: Oh, and I refrained from wishing my e-mail correspondent a Happy Thanksgiving in my response. Wouldn't want to cause offense.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005
13:23 - SONY LIED MICROSOFT DIED
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1891782,00.asp

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How to work the Playstation 3, the Xbox 360, and Karl Rove into a conspiracy theory? John C. Dvorak has found a way.

Oh no, this isn't about him. But the story he points out is pretty funny. And it's a good illustration of the topsy-turviness of this modern world where one feels like defending Microsoft and vilifying Sony...

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© Brian Tiemann