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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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, June 14, 2008
18:48 - The great American waste of time
http://ussmariner.com/2006/03/12/bugs-bunny-greatest-banned-player-ever/

(top)
This has got to be one of the nerdiest things ever written, either from a baseball fan's standpoint or an animation fan's standpoint.

When thrown, the pitch must be traveling at least as slow as 15ft/s (to give him time to run to the plate and then talk). At the same time, it can’t touch the ground before crossing the plate, or be ruled an automatic ball, so it must actually be thrown upwards at least as fast as to resist the force of gravity (as g =32ft/s^2). Since the pitch crosses the plate at approximately the same height it was thrown, we know when it left Bunny’s hand, it was traveling at about 64ft/s. Neglecting air friction and the effects of spin on the ball:

0s: 64ft/s up
1s: 32ft/s up
2s: 0ft/s up
3s: 32ft/s down
4s: 64ft/s down

64ft/s = 3,840ft/m = 230,400 ft/h = ~44mph

Therefore, he throws the pitch in the air at about 44mph and possibly quite slightly towards home. In the time the toss gives him behind the plate, he begins to chatter. In his three seconds of yelling, he’s able to cause the ball to accelerate extremely fast. We can estimate the speed of the ball given the force applied to Bugs while catching it. If, as seems reasonable, we figure he weighs 80lbs, the force to throw him directly into the backstop and do significant structural damage to that backstop can be estimated ("Estimation of pitch speed through re-creation of secondary observations using weighted mannequin and riot suppresion weapons," Zumsteg, 2004). We are able to figure that the pitch was traveling at least 150mph and possibly much faster.

Either way, it's awesome.



18:28 - They didn't even have to get John Goodman to voice it
http://www.bigbuckbunny.org/index.php/download/

(top)
Nice piece of independent CG animation, "Big Buck Bunny". Very well executed, and the bird in it is straight out of Pixar.


Big Buck Bunny from Blender Foundation on Vimeo.

They could stand to recut it with a bit more foley, and lose the dumb stinger after the credits, but other than that...


Friday, June 13, 2008
16:37 - Profit of doom
http://www.autoblog.com/2008/06/13/exxon-mobil-exiting-gas-station-business/

(top)
But that's unpossible:

With gas prices as high as they are, it might seem hard to believe that some gas companies aren't profitable, but apparently Exxon Mobil isn't doing as well as they might wish. The company just announced that it will be selling off its gas stations for financial reasons. We suspect that the industry keeps itself shrouded in mystery to protect its profit at times, but Exxon Mobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, to name a few, have all stated that certain nebulous factors in the supply, demand and refinery process have led to a steep drop in profitability. You know, dozens of billions instead of hundreds. To that end Exxon, for one, is shedding its stations.

Because that's what publicly traded companies do with massive windfall profits. They close retail outlets.

Why, it's all so incomprehensible!

Of course, there might actually be a simpler explanation...


12:10 - We used to use him to get the football out of the sewer

(top)
Okay... "weight loss success" stories don't come much better than this one.

So I'm standing in an auto shop waiting for some work to be done on my car; and as various mechanics mill about and I idly steal glances at my watch, suddenly I notice a couple of guys in the back of the shop, coming in by the back rollup door, one of whom sporting long yellow wavy hair that one might associate with "eccentric flamboyant millionaire". And he's staring in my direction, telling his companion and the shop owner, "Yeah, him... he's the one."

I look in other directions, quite sure they're talking about something completely unrelated to me. Then they come up to me. "Hey, we've got a job for you."

This they then proceed to show to me. It's an extravagantly painted powerboat, which they describe offhand as being capable of doing a quarter mile in about 9 seconds at 125 mph. Judging by the gigantic engine in the back, and the ducts leading from the fuel line right into the exhaust headers (for maximum flame effect), I don't disbelieve it.

In front, at the bottom of the footwell that's barely tall enough to accommodate a pair of legs on either side of a central fiberglass bulkhead, is a metal anchor point bolted into the fiberglass bottom, for securing it to the trailer it's riding on. The fiberglass had been damaged and repaired, and now the anchor point needed to be tightened. Only problem was, the only way to tighten it was from inside the boat.

"I've seen it done before," the boat owner said hopefully to me. "This lanky kid, about as thin as you, but taller."

See, this is where the surrealness of it all comes home to me. I am now the thin one in a given gathering. The one people light on as being potentially able to squeeze myself into the fiberglass coffin at the prow of a speedboat and efficiently manipulate hand tools.

"What the hell," I say. "I'm game."

First—and bear in mind that at this point all the staff of the shop has dropped their existing projects, including the one I was ostensibly there for, and is crowded around to see just what hope in hell there is of me pulling this off. First they have to remove a bracket from the passenger-side footwell that would otherwise impede ingress; then they have to unbolt and remove a toolbox containing flares and air horns and such. And then... in I go.



(That's me with the white shoes.)

That nose cone is deceptively long. From the outside, it looks like I might only have to reach in three feet or so. In reality, I have to wriggle my entire body in under the dashboard (or whatever the nautical term is), getting my shoulders and then my hips through the metal collar formed by the pedals and structural members, until only my feet are visible. My arms are stretched out straight in front of me, because having one at my side means my shoulders are too wide to fit in; and there's no changing position once I'm in there. Never mind how unnatural this position is for my shoulders, or how my thumb is falling asleep, or how after a few minutes I'd pay handsomely for the ability to lower my arm to my side—just one, it's all I need. It's all I can do just to avoid brushing up against the upper fiberglass surface of the deck, which is sizzling hot in the unseasonable warmth of the last few days.

I reach the bolts. They pass me tools using a long magnetic rod, blindly, on the other side of the bulkhead that runs the length of the prow:



First the wrench they give me is a size too small. The next one is the right size, but it only moves a few awkward, ill-braced turns before the nut sinks too low into the countersunk fiberglass, and I have to pass it back in favor of a socket and ratchet. After a few minutes someone gets a hose and starts washing down the upper layer of fiberglass, cooling it off to the point where it can safely be touched and the radiant heat is somewhat abated, though there was only so much good it could do under those conditions. By the time I've finished tightening down both nuts, I've been in that sweltering tomb for over 15 minutes, and am covered with sweat and grime. And I have no idea how I'm getting out.

Actually, that's not true. That part was never in doubt. I knew ever since I wriggled myself in the last few feet, past all possible bracing points and trapping my last mobile joints, that there was no chance I was going to be able to perform the same feat in reverse—but I wouldn't have to. They were going to pull me out.



Man, that is a feeling unlike any other. Being able to stretch out, and move my arms freely, and then getting that hose water over my head to cool off, after being wedged in there... about the only way I can imagine it being more of a relief is if I'd been battling claustrophobia at the same time. But if that were the case I doubt I'd ever have said "I'm game" in the first place.

As we all made our way back to the shop to swap business cards and small talk, it was through a cloud of muttered disbelief that I actually pulled this off. I certainly wasn't used to being "that guy" in these kinds of situations... but now one thing's for sure: I'll have a tale that will precede me in situations where I need to be introduced. Plus a t-shirt with the shop's logo on it, since now they've got a reputation as the place where magic happens.

As we all shook hands and parted, the owner apologized profusely to me for having screwed up my day's schedule during what was supposed to be a routine bit of car maintenance.

"Are you kidding?" I said. "A chance for a story like this I'll pay good money for."

Now if only my arms would readjust from their semi-dislocated nerve repositioning and act like they know how to go where my brain directs them...



06:48 - Sam & Max are back?
http://www.telltalegames.com/community/comics/samandmax/issue-1

(top)
Apparently so. And the word balloons are awesomely conceived.

Via Chris.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008
07:13 - Naval gazing
http://www.cnfj.navy.mil/Manga.html

(top)
JMH sends this—a manga produced by the US Naval Forces Japan, in both Japanese and English, illustrating life on board the USS George Washington.

I'm not sure what happens to the image quality about halfway through, but it's still readable... but then it just leaves me wondering just who the audience is supposed to be. Japanese-born US Navy recruits? Japanese residents of Yokosuka who resent giant US carriers floating offshore? Americans who are obsessed with Japanese culture and want to join the Navy in order to experience it?


Tuesday, June 10, 2008
12:10 - Man said their equipment could pinpoint a purr at four 'undred yards; and Eric, being such a 'appy cat, was a piece of cake
http://www.oobject.com/category/sinister-bbc-spy-vehicles/

(top)
I'm not sure why I thought this, but I always sort of assumed that the infamous "TV Detector Vans" they had in Britain—to track down nefarious scofflaws who would watch TV without paying their BBC fee—were for real. Never mind the technical issues involved; it just seemed like one of those things that, for all I knew, worked differently on the other side of the Atlantic.

Evidently it's always just been a particularly inspired (and creepy) long-running ad campaign by the BBC. This post (via AutoBlog) chronicles the various TV Detector Vans they've "employed" throughout the years.



I guess maybe I just figured that if Monty Python was spoofing them, they must have been a real phenomenon—because who spoofs a spoof? ...Aside from Cracked Magazine?


Monday, June 9, 2008
20:01 - Chillin'

(top)
It's really hot here. Like, ridiculously hot. It broke 100° today, and with East Coast humidity in effect that translates to about 429° in RealFeel™ Patented Psuedo-Weather, or something.

Fortunately, certain cafés in the region offer innovative ways to answer nature's challenge. To wit:



Lemon Italian ice packed into a frozen lemon. (Or a pineapple, or any of several other variations.)

Now that is cool.



13:02 - Sweet
http://www.macworld.com/article/133838/2008/06/iphone3g.html

(top)
WWDC:

Apple plans to introduce a new version of the iPhone in July that comes equipped with support for faster 3G networking. And the new version of the popular smartphone will be available for a dramatically lower price.

The 3G iPhone, unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the end of his Worldwide Developers Conference keynote Monday, will sell for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. That's a $200 discount from the previous $399 and $499 prices for the 8GB and 16GB iPhones, respectively.

Shipping July 11 in 22 countries, the 3G iPhone will enable faster data downloads over AT&T's 3G network. The handset will also include built-in GPS.

And the 16GB one comes in white, with metal buttons and a normal headphone jack. Was that all the complaints people had, or were there others?

Well, naturally there's the whole "Hey! You can't sell it for this price now that we've all bought iPhones for $600!" argument we all had once before. Apple clearly wants to make it as easy as possible for people to get their phones upgraded. I wonder what will happen to the street price of 1st-gen iPhones on Ebay now, though—probably drop by half.

Also: MobileMe. I wonder how hard they had to work to get the me.com domain; regardless, every @mac.com address is interchangeable with a corresponding @me.com address that'll be even easier to give people over the phone. Plus it's PC-oriented too. Nice.


UPDATE: Gruber says today's iPhone announcements are all about grabbing up market share, at the expense of technical wowzerism. And that's ... well, I'm not saying it's not right, but it's hilarious in a way:

The iPhone 3G seemingly only has two major hardware additions: 3G networking and GPS. The battery, I suspect, might be stronger (and, given the shape of the back of the iPhone 3G, perhaps a stronger but bigger battery. No front-facing camera. No video from the rear camera. Instead of building a better $400 iPhone, they worked on halving the price of last year’s phone.

Apple punditry in this day and age is founded on the principle that whatever we can dream up that Apple might do, they've got something cooking that will confound all of our predictions, founded as they are on yesterday's technology and today's assumptions. We've observed wave upon wave of "iPhone killers" hit the market, touting (purportedly) iPhone-competitive features along with (purportedly) iPhone-beating speed/flexibility/cheapness. We've shrugged them all off with the blithe presumption that Apple would bring out an iPhone this summer that would be so far beyond the current one in concept and features that it would leave all the other guys looking like the companies that are still falling all over themselves trying to produce a cheaper clone of the 5G iPod. We've presumed that Apple would forgo the easy path of market domination, steer clear of price subsidies and Yalta pacts with strategic devil-partners, and stick to the path of forging sexy new ground with undreamed-of technology, and allow the market to come to it.

So... now Apple has essentially done the opposite of what everyone expected: they didn't bring out any unexpected features. They went for market share. They bargained with AT&T. They stuck with last year's phone, with the bare minimum set of upgrades to placate the plaintiffs in the audience, and they braved the onslaught of a million billion clone makers who will seek ever harder to catch up to where the iPhone was last year, now that the target—to our great surprise—isn't moving after all.

How's that for an unexpected move?

Yet, if Gruber is correct that this is all about building entrenched support for the iPhone platform rather than wowing people with can't-get-it-anywhere-else features, those clone makers will still do little else but dash themselves to pieces—just as even a perfect iPod cloner can't offer the iTunes Store, and even a perfect OS X-on-PC vendor can't offer a legitimate support or upgrade path, fat lot of good a perfect iPhone 3G clone will do the likes of LG or Samsung if they don't support the apps made possible by the iPhone platform.

Now that platform had better knock our socks off, huh?



08:01 - And I don't mean "Captain EO"
http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2008/06/disney_world_in_3d_in_google_earth.h

(top)
Walt Disney World. They 3D-ified the whole damn thing.



Including trees, lampposts, kiosks, monorail tracks... everything. And not just the Magic Kingdom, a whole bunch of the parks.

These guys know a good marketing tool when they see it.



06:49 - Local girl makes good
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/31/MNP310Q7JP.DTL

(top)
An old friend forwarded me this story about the, er, economics of my hometown and county. Reading it is like watching a director's commentary—all the actors are there, they're just completely different people from how they appeared on the screen. That goes for the characters, the set pieces—the county itself.

Marijuana is so ubiquitous here that everyone, from schoolteachers to kids, can tell you when a sinsemilla bud is ripe. From late summer to fall, the county reeks with the skunk-like stench of ready-to-harvest weed. The annual $1.5 billion pot crop constitutes two-thirds of Mendocino County's entire economy.

. . .

"We need to harness this gigantic industry, not try to kill it," said Laura Hamburg, whose arrest last fall so infuriated her that she decided to head up the anti-B push. "There's this caricature about this county that we're all hippies sitting around smoking joints, but that's the last thing from reality. Medical users truly need this plant."

What's funny is that when I was growing up in the area, I never saw the first hint of marijuana at school, around town, anything. I guess people were just really good about hiding it. Or I was incredibly naïve, which I'm not ruling out.

That's when a would-be robber leaped the fence of Larry Puterbaugh's backyard and shot and wounded his neighbor, Memo Parker. The man was trying to steal from Parker's pot farm, police said. Puterbaugh had already complained for years about the stench from the hundreds of pot plants over his back fence - but even after the shooting, police did nothing about it. Parker had doctor-signed cards authorizing medicinal growth on the farm.

Parker later pleaded no contest to cultivating too many plants in a separate case. But in 2004, all Puterbaugh could do was fume.
"That's when I began thinking we have to do something," Puterbaugh said. "Why should we be scared in our own neighborhoods, in a quiet town like this?

Larry Puterbaugh was my band teacher in 4th grade.

"It's like we kicked the door open and said to the rest of the nation, 'Come on in and grow pot!' " said Mike Sweeney, an environmental activist who is helping direct the Measure B campaign. "Now, what we want to do is slam that door shut. We want people around the country to know that Mendocino has changed its ways."

This cracks me up. Environmental activists who are leading the charge to crack down on pot-growing.

"What really got to me was when I tried to hire some teenagers for my [welding] shop, and they laughed at me," said Liberty. "They said they make so much money harvesting pot for growers that they don't need my $8-an-hour jobs.

"Look, they can make $30 an hour, and I see them driving $50,000 tricked-up trucks all over town," he said. "I can't compete with that. Nobody can. How in the world can we attract new business when the workforce just wants to grow or harvest pot?"

I guess I really missed the boat on these lucrative opportunities to get my foot in the door of big business back in the day.

"We definitely go our own way," said longtime resident Randy Bream, leaning against the till at his Mendocino Hobbies shop in Ukiah. "Look, I call myself a conservative, and I don't care who grows pot as long as they don't push it on me or my kids.

"What matters for me is that there are friendly people here. On Memorial Day, the city puts flags up and down the main street. All this fighting over pot? I wish they'd just hurry up and decide whether it's legal so we can stop talking about it."

That's just it. Ukiah is not Arcata. This is a sane place we're talking about, where they're actually trying to come up with a rational way of dealing with this issue that the rest of the country might even recognize as being the work of adult human beings.




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