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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 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
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 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
Saturday, April 4, 2009
16:56 - Things better kept to oneself
http://blog.wellsfargo.com/wachovia/2009/03/bouncing_back_in_tough_times.html

(top)
Ah, the world of corporate blogs. A magical land of sitcom-grade committee-authored "jokes", stingily released bits of "insight" into the internal workings of business, historical factoids that may as well have been culled from Wikipedia, inspiring quotations from high-ranking suits who probably don't even use their own company's products and services, and precious little in the way of actual useful information.

Whoever writes these blogs (certainly nobody who in real life resembles the oh-so-human-looking little avatar photos accompanying each folksy post), or at least whoever handles the admittedly unenviable job of policing the comments sections for the inevitable torrents of profanity and idiocy that no company would want to be held responsible for dishing out from its own servers, seems to have little to no understanding of the realities of blogdom, such as spambots:

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Just so you know, we removed a URL from this comment in accordance with our Comment Guidelines. Nothing else has been changed or altered in any way. Please see About This Blog for more information.

Yyyyyeah. Don't worry, I doubt "Sarah" will be too offended.

Not citizen journalism, not pure PR-speak, but some kind of bizarre hybrid creature existing in a forced wretched netherworld: you don't read this stuff in the hope of being entertained, but rather in the hope of finding out how soon you might be able to do something like make a Wells Fargo deposit in a Wachovia branch (the answer, as given by an actual branch employee, rather than anywhere on the blog: a year, if ever), or what the long term plan is for the coexistence of the Wells Fargo and Wachovia brands (answer: Wachovia will be "gracefully retired", and presumably replaced by Wells Fargo branches from coast to coast; though whether that implies the omnipresence of those wondrous ATMs that take check deposits without envelopes, and that will allow you to access them from outdoors even when the bank is closed and provide you with pens and envelopes the way Wells Fargo does out west, and maybe not require you to swipe your ATM card to get access to the glassed-in atrium where the ATM is, yet somehow FORGET TO TURN ON THE CARD READER SO EVERYONE HAS TO LINE UP OUTSIDE AND SWIPE THE CARD OVER AND OVER AND THEN GO HOME IN FRUSTRATION none yet can say). The bits of useful info come few and far between, and a simple FAQ page might be far more handy in finding out what diverse bits of data we all want to know, without having to wait for it all to be doled out bit by capricious bit.

Yet surely we ought to be grateful to these publishing organs for the unintentional comedy they (or their robot ghost-writers) provide:

About 10 years ago, when I was a college student and life was uncomplicated, I had a bumper sticker on my 1987 Chevy Nova that simply said "Positive." While it seems naive now, I remember imagining how that little word would impact anyone who happened to be driving behind me. I guess you could categorize me as one of "those" people. You know, the ones who turn lemons into lemonade and see the glass as half full. But I gotta be honest with you: This past year has made me want to just dump out the whole glass of lemon juice. And I'm surely not alone.

Buddy, I don't think that is quite the reaction you may have inspired in the people driving behind you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009
20:27 - Big Google is Watching You

(top)
Try as I might, I cannot envy Britain. So embattled by burglary that when they show some community backbone and fighting spirit, it's to mob a Google Street View car into retreat:

A spate of burglaries in a Buckinghamshire village had already put residents on the alert for any suspicious vehicles. So when the Google Street View car trundled towards Broughton with a 360-degree camera on its roof, villagers sprang into action. Forming a human chain to stop it, they harangued the driver about the “invasion of privacy”, adding that the images that Google planned to put online could be used by burglars.

While at the same time putting the entire country under surveillance cameras, which I guess is okay because it's the well-meaning government and not a thoughtless evil corporation.

And then there's this:

A pregnant woman, her husband and their three-year-old son were killed in a house fire early yesterday as police who arrived before the fire brigade prevented neighbours from trying to save them. The woman screamed: “Please save my kids” from a bedroom window and neighbours tried to help but were beaten back by flames and were told by police not to attempt a rescue.

By the time firefighters got into the house in Doncaster, Michelle Colly, 25, her husband, Mark, 29, and son, Louis, 3, were dead. Their daughter, Sophie, 5, was taken to hospital and believed to be critically ill.

Davey Davis, 38, a friend of the family, said: “It was the most harrowing thing I have ever witnessed. Michelle was at the bedroom window yelling, ‘Please save my kids’ and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near. We were willing to risk our lives to save those kiddies but the police wouldn’t let us.

Fire, burglars, whatever—just adopt a submissive posture and it'll all be over soon.

Via Chris M. and Mark.


13:02 - And if it smells bad, you can launder it
http://www.thinkgeek.com/stuff/41/tauntaun.html

(top)
This pretty much defines "full of win":

In the sub-zero wasteland of the planet Hoth, only the strong survive... and of course those lucky Jedi protected by the thick skin of a Tauntaun. Now after exhaustive movie viewing research and analysis ThinkGeek Labs has isolated the exact synthetic compounds needed to re-create Tauntaun fur. What have we done with this supreme knowledge? Created a Tauntaun sleeping bag of course.

Apparently they're seeking licensing rights from LucasFilm to produce it. Whether ol' George has a sense of humor or not, this is legendary even just as a prototype.

Via Mark.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
16:14 - Maybe he just did it for the fame
http://www.wreckedexotics.com/articles/021.shtml

(top)
All I could think of upon reading this story:

Here's an incredibly weird situation (and it's not an April Fools joke): A high school baseball coach loaned both of his Ferraris to 4 of his players, apparently with no supervision whatsoever. The teenagers were all juniors in high school and not surprisingly, managed to wreck BOTH Ferraris in a mall parking lot!!

Now here's where the story gets better: You would think the baseball coach would be outraged. Instead, he shows up at the scene, lights up a cigarette and calmly says "It's gonna take a lot of homeruns to cover this one up".


Is this the coolest baseball coach in the world? (or maybe the craziest). At this point, you're probably wondering how a high school baseball coach can afford 2 Ferraris. (He's apparently a retired neurosurgeon).


...Was: "Retired neurosurgeon? What'd he do, operate on himself?"

Via Mark.


06:00 - CADIE Is the Entity (but only for 24 hours)
http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/cadie/index.html

(top)
Cute. Google has chosen today of all days to launch CADIE, which can apparently run your Gmail on autopilot and synthesize typos, punctuation errors, and emoticons for you. It has also independently determined that "I <3 pandas".

I think they must have used some kind of AI machine to write this page:

The decades that followed saw an acceleration of innovation not seen since the Industrial Revolution. Computing pioneers from the game theorist von Neumann to the economist Morgenstern engaged in a tumultuous Hegelian rondolet in which probability theory mated with utility theory to spawn decision theory. Operations research and Markov decision processes tackled actions taking place in a sequence. Neuroscience shed light on the parallels and differences between electronic and human brains. Cognitive psychology delivered sound specifications for knowledge-based agents. The now-legendary summer workshop at Dartmouth in 1956 birthed automata, the first neural networks and the invention of a program capable of thinking non-numerically . . . in early 2007, a tight-knit, vaguely feared quantum computing group here at Google extended computers with quantum bits of Einstein-Bose condensate, polynomially speeding up our machines' data-processing ability.

What worries me is that it's only pretend ingenuity that our best and brightest companies have anymore, not the real thing that companies like GM and Chrysler once demonstrated.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
09:10 - Don't, uh, quit your day job

(top)
Spam moment of zen:

From: untrammelled@csusecurity.com
Subject: Your Account WWas Banned
Date: March 31, 2009 1:36:29 AM EDT

This is a joke :)

And set them into an oven as hot as for manchet, tops, or
a little celery seed, and a carrot cut of the guebres (and
of the parsees in india) is with intense hope, in expectation
of a thunderstorm to uberabinhaalthough the railway had
already.

...

Ah! A joke! Ha ha ha hah! I get jokes!

No link or attachment or anything. They just wanted to tell me a joke.

Monday, March 30, 2009
08:10 - Welcome to IRS Burger
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/presidential-task-force-on-automobiles-restructurin

(top)
So the government is now in charge of GM and has booted out Wagoner, and has officially put Chrysler on "marry Fiat within a month or die" watch. Their fact sheet covers all the gory details.

I'm no financial analyst, but this doesn't sound like good news for the economy as a whole or the auto industry in particular.

This is pretty far beyond the loan guarantees of 1979-80 that heretofore have been held up as the great cautionary tale of our age. This actually puts the government in the driver's seat, and goes so far as to declare Chrysler officially non-viable as a company. Whether Fiat can save them or not, that's a pretty heavy sentence. Especially coming from a government that to date has pretty much steered clear of treating the auto industry like a semi-nationalized rail or power concern.

On the plus side, this looks to be the time to load up on some severely discounted Vipers and Corvettes. Delivery might take six to eight weeks, though.

How can it not be possible for a car company to succeed in today's America? Is it only because of all the grandfathered union and dealership rules? Can't a brand-new, home-grown brand get itself established making not kooky next-generation things like the Tesla line, but basic, inexpensive, internal-combustion family transportation? Or is there simply too big an economic gulf between the ability to create a car free of the traditions and trammels of the past, and the ability to produce it in such numbers and with such immunity to liability prosecution and at low enough cost as to be viable in volume?

If so, can that gulf be closed in any way? Would that not be a better use of government money—incentives to spur the creation of a brand-new generation of traditional automakers?

I mean, hell—at some point, cars gotta come from somewhere. Right?

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