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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Sunday, November 12, 2006
17:44 - Curses! My one weakness!

(top)
"It's like salt for fruit!"

That's how I reacted upon taking possession of the remainder of the 2-ounce bag of reagent-grade citric acid that Lance had bought from the homebrewing store to make blueberry mead. Most of the bag was intact, and most of that went onto various peaches, apples, watermelon slices, and other miscellaneous items that I thought could stand to be made more sour.

The rest went into solution. It does a body good.

(Well, except for when I tried adding it to lemonade. It wouldn't dissolve all the way. I only discovered this when I got to the bottom of the glass, reached the gloppy layer of precipitated citric acid slush, and promptly found it eating holes in the roof of my mouth. Baking soda, administered rapidly, did not produce the hoped-for volcanic eruption, much to the disappointment of all present at the time.)

But that was about seven years ago. And homebrewing hasn't happened much around here since then. So the citric acid story has remained a legend among my friends and a way for me to break the ice at parties.

Until today, at Safeway, when I noticed this:



Oh really. What might be in this, do you suppose?



Oh ho!

And so it proves to be. Just like I remember it. And you know, five and a half ounces is a lot of addictive white powder.

But this is hardly a homebrewing sort of thing, right? Who has my number? Who places such temptations in my path?



Aaaahhh! Azamat, help! We must to escape!

Friday, November 10, 2006
00:40 - Oh great, another disturbance in the Force
http://www.supershadow.com/starwars/episode7/plot.html

(top)
Kevin D. at Dean's World linked to this purported set of George Lucas story treatments for Star Wars Episodes 7 through 9. The general consensus appears to be that they're just fan-fiction, second-rate and derivative at best, by some anonymous fan; at least, that's sure how it appears to me. But I've got to say that the "treatments" have this much going for them: they perfectly match the tone of the 1/2/3 movies.

In other words: they're boring. They're formulaic. They're labyrinthine alphabet-soups of alien worlds that you just know would be perfect candidates for the great new CG effects du jour, yet would somehow manage to come across as pointless wastes of time and money. And for all their convolutedness, you'll notice: they're linear. There's not a plot twist to be found in them from beginning to end. Just one "spectacular" or "thrilling" battle after another until the credits roll.

Whoever wrote these pieces of cargo-cult fan-fiction makes the same mistake Lucas did with the prequels, which is to assume that what people want from Star Wars is lots of explosions and cool space battles. As opposed to, you know, story. Characters. Plot. Philosophy. Something we can continue to enjoy once the curtain has fallen.

(Yes, I know I call a lot of things "cargo cults". But that's only because, well, a lot of things are cargo cults.)

Having the Jedi Kids get into random fights with thugs in nightclubs serves what purpose to the story, precisely? The Mandalorians do what to advance the backdrop of the Star Wars universe? Are we meant to cheer at the prospect of even bigger light-saber battles and a really huge crowd of Jedi ghosts clapping at the end of Episode 9?

And the Dark Side is defeated once and for all by ... setting off a Doomsday Machine that destroys a star system with 31 planets and billions of people? This is supposed to be an inspiring end to a nine-movie series that spent so much time talking about "balance" and the inherent harmony of nature and the value of human life?

Feh. I'd be surprised if the writer of these "treatments" had broken the 14-years-of-age barrier.

After reading The Darth Side, and realizing just how deep the rabbit-hole can go in the hands of someone who actually understands what creative value there is in the Star Wars universe as originally conceived, and how much bigger and more fascinating it is than the tawdry and bauble-studded world of midichlorians and computer-generated clone armies that we've been given, I can't forgive anyone for attempting to perpetrate on us something with such a stunning lack of vision as these, whether his name is Lucas or not.


20:28 - Truth serum
http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/11/10/film.boratlawsuit.ap/index.html

(top)
Now this is hilarious.


Two fraternity boys want to make lawsuit against "Borat"...


As far as I'm concerned, this is all just part of the movie. Where's my popcorn?


16:20 - We have the technology

(top)
Something that just occurred to me last night, in the car, where I'm unable to write it down, as things so often do:

I had read David Pogue's fairly unflattering review of the Zune, in which he notes that viewing photos requires you to turn the device on its side and portrait-formatted photos are still crammed the wrong way into the screen. And I was wondering: you know, it's not difficult in software to determine whether a photo is taller than it is wide. And—and—we have digital cameras (mainly SLRs) that can detect automatically whether you're holding it in portrait or landscape mode, so that it can stamp the photos you take with an orientation field in the EXIF tags.

So why not put those two things into the Zune—or, for that matter, the iPod?

You'd see a photo on the screen, constrained to the dimensions of the LCD. You'd notice that it was being shown in portrait mode on a landscape-oriented screen. And rather than pushing orientation-switching buttons like on the Newton, you could just turn the thing on its side, and the screen would automatically rotate and resize the photo to the maximum dimensions.

I know this isn't some breakthrough idea; I mean, many tablet PCs already have the ability to detect the orientation you're holding them in and reflow the screen accordingly. But why not put that into a handheld device? For something like the iPod, where there's one clearly obvious "up" orientation, it's less of a no-brainer; but with the Zune, where the screen is taller than it is wide and where orientation-switching is a core feature, you'd think that this would be a pretty fundamental piece of functionality. Wouldn't you?

Wednesday, November 8, 2006
18:09 - Guffaw
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/08/rumsfeld_resignation.html

(top)
Okay, that's funny.

Gee, y'know, I kinda like this resurgence of fairly good-natured humor that's been bubbling to the surface lately...

Via Daring Fireball.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
00:13 - So yeah

(top)
Now that it's obvious that the vast Diebold-Rove vote-engineering scheme has either a) somehow horribly backfired or b) never existed, can we please get back to some semblance of sanity and mutual respect in politics?

Y'know. Just asking.


16:10 - What the world needs now
http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2006/06/1833899

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What would the Middle East look like if the national borders were drawn according to traditional tribal ranges rather than arbitrary, European-imposed territorial lines?

That's what this article at the Armed Forces Journal discusses, with pretty maps and lots of in-depth discussion. It covers a lot of the ground I've been hearing people talk about lately, such as that the endemic problem in the Middle East is that because the people are tribal rather than national in their thinking and thus have no psychological link to their governments, and because their governments have oil wealth and thus no need to depend on their populaces for tax money, the people and the governments are essentially at cross purposes all the time, which is a huge barrier standing in the way of the nationalizing impulse that was what made Europe ascendant starting in the Middle Ages. The Islamic world needs to develop national identities in order to thrive in the same way, and one seemingly intelligent way to accomplish that would be to redraw the boundaries in the way proposed here.

Of course, there's still the oil issue, but one thing at a time.

Interesting reading, to say the least. And smarter than JON CARRY might have us believe of its authors.

Monday, November 6, 2006
22:06 - Roomba... for the kitchen
http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=128

(top)
Okay, now this is cool.



I was intrigued for a while by the Roomba, but eventually decided it wasn't for me because this house's carpets are too fragmented and get too covered with extra-long dog hair for a little robot to be able to cope with without becoming as much of a hassle as vacuuming originally was.

But washing the kitchen hardwood floor? Now that is something I could get excited about not having to do anymore.


11:41 - Everybody know it just for girls!

(top)
Okay—I don't know quite what I was expecting when I went in, but everybody's right: Borat is one of the funniest damn things I've seen in a very long time.

I heard the name of Andy Kaufman bandied about a lot in the lobby both going in and coming out; and from the ads and trailers, I'd found myself wondering just how on earth a movie like this—whose sensibility seems stuck in the Python era—gets made. And, well, I guess the way is by putting a big disclaimer at the end of the credits that says, essentially, "This movie is not intended to accurately portray anything about Kazakhstan or its people, customs, or behaviors. Please don't make this into an international incident!" And yet you know this is going to be a huge hit in Kazakhstan.

I also noticed that the credits gave a shout-out to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, in the "special thanks" section. I suppose that might have something to do with it too.

This is the kind of thing I've got to drag some friends to. If nothing else, the iPod gag at the end itself is worth the price of admission.

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