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
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Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Saturday, April 17, 2010
13:44 - Muppets got their mojo back
http://www.youtube.com/user/MuppetsStudio

(top)
Lance points this one out: new Muppets shorts made exclusively for YouTube.

They're all quite good, though the "Bohemian Rhapsody" one appears to be their piece of resistance.

("Beaker's Ballad" is great too. It's surprising how well this stuff seems suited to the Internet Age.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010
23:22 - The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!

(top)
It's about damn time: new cups at Chipotle.



They've had the same rotation of four inspiring hippie stories for like five years now. There's only so many times I can read about the Land Institute and its happy rainbow cows or how the Tabasco sauce guy can't eat without spilling food all over his bulbous gut.

Looks like I wasn't the only one. Hurrah!


07:45 - Carbs are still bad for you, right?
http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/s

(top)
The KFC Double Down Sandwich has evidently gone on sale:



Word on the street is that it is good. Word is also that it appears to be a way for the Colonel to efficiently dispose of breast pieces that are too small to use in their regular buckets. See, PETA? It's conserving chickens, not killing more of them.

And 540 calories is pretty damn low. That's Big Mac numbers. And a Big Mac these days is the saddest, most decrepit, shriveled version of its mass-media horror image that exists on the market. It probably qualifies as health food by now... or it would, if not for the bun.

Ingenious, Colonel.


07:17 - Concept Cars: Engineering Disappointment

(top)
I've written before about how excruciating it must be to be a car designer, coming up with gorgeous and inspiring designs for Chrysler and Bentley and a million other vehicles whose survival into physical sheetmetal can only be described as Pyrrhic. And I've written with disdain about the tendency for magazines such as Road & Track to fill their pages with "photo-illustrations" of things like the alleged 2014 Nissan GT-R which they decided to write a half-page story on on the basis of, well, some lint they found in their navels, I guess.

“These reports that say we’re planning on producing a new-generation GT-R only five years after introducing the original, and that we’re going to make it a hybrid, are totally unfounded. I said when we introduced the GT-R that the car’s future will be decided in three years, and we are now entering that third year. Therefore, we’ve been too busy making sure that this GT-R makes a positive mark on the world to think about the next car,” he said.

Still, the arrival of yet another GT-R variant, the Spec M, due later this year in Japan (whether this car will make its way to the U.S. is still undecided) and the fact that the GT-R has become one of the most popular performance cars in the world, make us believe that plans are already being considered for the next-generation car.

"Quick, Rianna-Coco, fire up 3DSMax! We've got a story to write!

A chance sighting on the road yesterday, though, reminded me of one of my biggest bugaboos in this whole sad discipline: the Chrysler Crossfire.

Remember what that thing was supposed to look like when we saw the concept back in 2001?



I mean, damn.

What a world would we live in if domestic car companies had the kind of stones to bring cars like this to market?



At a glance it was obvious how it got its name, from the striking cross-plane rear buttresses that converged to a boattail-like point at the rear. An honestly new design idea. And those split contours on the front and rear glass, while clearly stunts for the burgeoning "retro" sensibility, looked damn fun. The Morgan-like headlights sealed the deal. If Chrysler—Chrysler!—could make cars like this, hell, maybe the American car industry isn't in such bad shape.

Well... we all know what happened.

We somehow went from this:



To this:



The damnable thing is that it's ostensibly not all that different. At a glance the basic proportions and lines are all still there; even the wheels are the same as in the concept. But somehow it all looks so much more... safe. Bland, boring, unassuming, banal. And look at how subtle the differences are that make it so: the rear bumpers are more intrusive into the design in the production car, effectively ruining the whole impact of those converging rear contours. The boattail element has been widened, presumably to make the rear hatch more usable, and in the process dramatically reducing the visual effect of those audacious lines and turning it into a dumpy, slouching barrelback. The wheels, while visually the same as in the concept, are scaled down as they always are. And the front, well... the front has been replaced with a generic, conventional, Lego-like 300C treatment, as far removed from the concept's elegance as gluing a Ford F250's nose onto a Porsche.

It's such small things as this that ruin concept cars for me. I love—or have always loved—the idea of creating fantasy cars out of thin air, and the modern world with its photo-realistic design software and limitless possibilities of one-man creativity ought to make it all the more of a playground than it ever was. But knowing that what's bound to happen to even the most buildable of concepts, just by making the most modest and practical of changes to them, and nonetheless causing such irreparable and painful damage to the unity of vision embodied in the concept, must be enough to drive a designer batty.

1910 must have been a hell of a time to be a carmaker.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
10:15 - Jangling the division bell
http://www.taoeffect.com/blog/2010/04/steve-jobs-response-on-section-3-3-1/

(top)
I think it's pretty remarkable that Steve Jobs has officially weighed in on the ongoing iPhone OS SDK controversy, via email, to an interested but lay developer. I think it's even more remarkable that his response more or less endorses a blog (Daring Fireball) as having captured the company's position and intent.

Ars Technica has an analysis of the exchange (via Brian D.) that has plenty of its own conclusions, mostly that Steve's brief proclamations only raise further questions—about whether his claims hold water, whether there's more to the story, whether Apple is gambling too recklessly on its future platform dominance.

I myself can't contribute much to the discussion; it's all moving far too fast, and I don't really have a committed stake in any of the players or sides (I'd love to see Flash be obsoleted by equivalent open technologies, but I also don't want to sacrifice the functionality it brings to the web experience when used properly; similarly, I'd love to see ever more and better iPhone/iPad apps being produced, but I don't relish the idea of more fugly cross-compiled non-native apps that look like Java craplets from the late 90s).

All I can say is that the wild success of the iPhone ecosystem, even in the face of the seemingly inarguable (according to their proponents) advantages of open platforms, and dependent on the community of developers throwing in their lot with a rather weird programming environment (Objective-C) and all the historical baggage that Apple brings, means that its momentum is not something that can be deflected by any one small competitive factor. People are developing for it because it's the obvious place to be, the way Windows was for desktop apps fifteen years ago, and the way LAMP has been for web development for the past decade. People are apparently willing to put up with a hell of a lot of inconvenience for the benefit of being part of the critical mass.

Steve would seem to realize this. Lord knows he's not stupid; he's had thirty years to study Microsoft and learn the lessons he can from its rise, empire-building, and stagnation. He also knows there's no way to do it "perfectly" the second time around; there's always a set of sacrifices to make, and you're always going to be the Evil Empire to somebody if your goal is to dominate. As pragmatic as he ultimately is, I have to assume the recent machinations in iPhone world—giving developers many of the goodies they've been asking for for years now, while at the same time tightening Apple's grip on the development process—is the best tradeoff that can be made at this stage, probably because it would just be all the harder to make moves like this later. Better to piss off a few novices and fence-sitters than to risk enshrining in law and de-facto reality the chinks in your corporate armor.

Monday, April 12, 2010
07:43 - What incredible irony

(top)
So there's apparently a Food Network show now called What Would Brian Boitano Make?.



Geez. And here I thought all those jokes in South Park were just non-sequiturs.

Or else he's stepping into the role history has made for him, a la Shatner, and playing the part really well.

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© Brian Tiemann