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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  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
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 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
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  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, February 26, 2006
13:50 - Fooled you, I fooled you, I got pig iron
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ4wzEEpk1A

(top)
This is some first-rate smartassery right here: a video documenting the creation of the widely circulated "widescreen video iPod" picture.

The fakes have become an art unto themselves.

Friday, February 24, 2006
11:07 - Win Ben Stein's Life
http://spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=9444

(top)
It suddenly occurred to me that Ben Stein is my role model.

Not because of anything he says or believes, necessarily—though this article is as good as I've seen on its subject—but because of this:

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu.

Now that is a life well lived.

If there's anything to which I personally aspire, it's the idea of being many disparate things and being really good at as many of them as possible. I don't have much interest in being the best one thing I can be—I want to be able to excel in lots of stuff, whether we're talking about writing, art, programming, music, acting, sports, and any of a lengthy list of other items that I might or might not ever have a chance to try, let alone to get good at.

Life's pretty short. And the more you accomplish, the shorter it seems.


10:57 - ...For that is confusion

(top)
Tim Blair links to this interesting Australia tourism ad, as well as to this post which quotes a prominent Australian academic who doesn't like it:

Elite lefty academic Tim Dunlop doesn't like the controversial new Tourism Australia TV ad meant to lure tourists to Australia:

The campaign is stupid not because it is offensive but because many people overseas won't understand it.

Dunlop's worried that the question, "So where the bloody hell are you?", at the end of the ad will so confound dumb foreigners that the Australians-are-friendly message and stunning visuals of the ad will both be lost, submerged in a sea of confusion. This is, of course, typical of the attitude of lefty elitists, especially when it comes to dumb Americans.

I happen to like the ad. Years of interacting with an Aussie friend and hours spent watching Lord of the Rings DVD extras have not only taught me how to understand all the lines in the ad perfectly well, but to detect which ones sound more Kiwi than Aussie.

But that's all just a minor sideline, barely worth mentioning except to point out the ad itself which is pleasant viewing and does indeed have some great visuals. But this controversy—"Americans will be confused by it"—also reminded me of something I'd seen the other day on Cartoon Brew, regarding the Chinese government's decision to ban all movies with mixed live-action and animated components, such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam:

CGI and 2-D characters alongside human actors jeopardize "the broadcast order of homemade animation and mislead their development," according to a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Order comes as the Chinese government attempts to increase local production of Mandarin-language toons and cut the amount of foreign animated programming appearing on Chinese television. Chinese regulatory authorities are notoriously skittish regarding broadcast and film themes that include the supernatural or fantasy, including talking animals. "Babe" was banned on the basis that animals can't talk and some viewers would be confused.

Just imagine the mindset that directs a decision like this. Some viewers would be confused. A reason for banning art.

The thing is, it doesn't really come as that much of a surprise if we're talking about the Chinese government—it fits in well enough with all the bewilderingly counterintuitive maxims of Stalinism we've had to acquaint ourselves with over the years, all the attempts to assert equality of outcome by forcing everyone down to the lowest common denominator, to regulate creativity and entrepreneurship, and to hell with those people no longer allowed to exceed expectations or excel.

But to hear this same attitude from an "elite lefty academic"... well, I suppose that shouldn't surprise me either.

Thursday, February 23, 2006
22:42 - Seth McFarlane, You Got Served™

(top)
I believe that in the space of about two minutes, Drawn Together just went from a show I'd been enjoying as intermittently-ingenious—intermittently-irritating and generally underrated, right up to the top of my short list.

See, all this second season I've felt that the writers have really reached a groove that was missing in the first season; last year the episodes struck me as very scattershot and incoherent, perhaps as a result of the writing not quite having got ahold of the style of injokes to use, or perhaps because I wasn't paying attention closely enough. Or perhaps, as is my going theory, because last season they were trying too hard to stick to the "reality show" schtick and the "cartoon and animation clichés" schtick at the same time. Each of those schticks is rich enough in potential material to sustain a whole show, and I think this second season—now that it's downplaying the "reality show" stuff and focusing more on the animation gags—is a lot more consistent in its delivery. There's plenty of mileage to be gotten just out of the animation injokes alone.

Nothing's a better demonstration of that than tonight's episode, which carelessly tosses out a whole armload of potential material just in a throwaway in the first minute or two: the "original cast", consisting of characters like Stimpy (with what had to be a Billy West cameo), a Transformer, and a 19th-century political cartoon of a woodcut pig wearing a "Congress" sash. One might have thought that the real cast had covered all the bases of possible animation genres to make fun of, but this tells us that they've only just scratched the surface. So did the rest of the gags in the episode, from the Popeye jokes to the Fugitive reference and the Pee-Wee's Big Adventure-esque chase sequence.

But what stomped me flat this time through was the bit in the middle where Wooldoor is released from "jail" (the mall security waiting area) in a direct Shawshank Redemption crib. It went on for several minutes and spanned several scenes, faithfully reprising the "reintegration into society" bit from the movie, with shabby brown suit, rural accent, grocery-store job, the whole sequence. And as I watched it, and as it kept on going from gag to gag (crucially, adding its own twists and well-timed resolutions), I found myself mentally composing a blog post comparing that scene to Family Guy, and saying, in effect, "That's the way to do it."

(As opposed, of course, to winkingly gratuitous five-minute cutaways to retread the bizarre chicken-suit fight thing, or the pointless and resolutionless straight-up recitation of the "Goodbye, Farewell" song from The Sound of Music, or the joylessly by-the-numbers Willy Wonka parody, or the endless and lazy "Remember the time when..." gags that have earned Family Guy the cherished and elusive contempt of the Something Awful writers.)

I'm thinking these things to myself as Wooldoor sits on the sidewalk with his lemonade cup in hand... and then Lois and Peter walk by, heads hidden off the top of the screen, and drop coins in his cup.

I swear, I couldn't recover my breath for a good minute afterward. Capri came in to investigate what that pounding noise was—it was me repeatedly smacking the arm of my chair.

I sit in awe of these writers. They know how to make fun of things. They know how to convey what it is they're mocking through the subtlest of comedic style statements. They know how to make you feel like you're part of the gag. Their work will be studied someday.


22:16 - Mac Ten
http://www.mexicanpictures.com/headingeast/2006/02/10-semi-obscure-mac-programs-you.

(top)
Via Chris—ten indispensable Mac apps that don't get anywhere near enough press.

I'm-a have to try a few of these out.


11:31 - This is just mean, but...

(top)
Time for your Camino Moment of Zen!



Enlarge and read in the indicated order for maximum impact.

Via Chris.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
15:22 - My brain
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6415770050655464328

(top)
Ow. Ow ow ow.


13:12 - I'll bet they don't know "fungible" either

(top)
Hey, look what I just got from MoveOn.org. Looks like we can add "SMTP" to the list of things they don't comprehend:

Dear MoveOn member,

The very existence of online civic participation and the free Internet as we know it are under attack by America Online.

AOL recently announced what amounts to an "email tax." Under this pay-to-send system, large emailers willing to pay an "email tax" can bypass spam filters and get guaranteed access to people's inboxes—with their messages having a preferential high-priority designation.1

Charities, small businesses, civic organizing groups, and even families with mailing lists will inevitably be left with inferior Internet service unless they are willing to pay the "email tax" to AOL. We need to stop AOL immediately so other email hosts know that following AOL's lead would be a mistake.

It'll be an amazing tax indeed if it enables spammers to use some new "SMTP header" technology to defeat my mail program's filters. SpamAssassin, your days are numbered! Bayesian heuristics be damned! AOL is on your case!

Just curious, but—isn't this kind of pay-per-send scheme exactly what people have been tentatively suggesting would be an excellent way to combat spam? Miniscule charges—like, say, a penny a message—for casual e-mailers, but charges that would add up to prohibitive amounts if you're sending out millions of spams a day? The point being, you know, that spam only makes economic sense to a spammer as long as there's no extra cost for sending two million messages versus just one or two?

Is MoveOn.org all up in a wad over this because a Big Corporation™ has proposed it? Or because it would threaten their ability to send out mailing list messages to people like me?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006
15:05 - sleep(259200);

(top)
It's been a long weekend, in more ways than one.

I got lots of work done, but not a lot of sleep.

It snowed in San Jose, or at least on the mountains above.

I got four chapters done. And made significant progress on at least three other projects. And did an interview.

Got way backed-up on e-mail, though. Replies will be forthcoming, but not right away.

UPDATE: The interview podcast is available here. Prepare to be bored to the point of madness.

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© Brian Tiemann