On Psystar, Apple And Conspiracy Theories

I was listening to this week’s TWiT on my commute in this morning when one of the TWiTs mentioned that they were taking a pass on the Psystar Open Computer (essentially a gray box hacked to run OS X Leopard) because the threat of an Apple lawsuit putting Psystar out of business is simply too great. As the discussion ensued, a question popped into my head: why hasn’t Apple sued Psystar into oblivion at this point? They’ve shown that they will file take-down notices/lawsuits against anyone running product info leaks, so why should a company making money off of illicitly-installed Apple products be free to run its business. Then it occurred to me: What if Apple actually wants Psystar to keep making “Frankenmacs”?
Follow me here. One of Steve Jobs’ first acts after returning as CEO of Apple was to kill off the Mac clone business. He essentially wanted to manage the brand, image and soup-to-nuts experience of Macintoshes and the only way to do so in a reliable manner was to make sure that all things related to the core Mac experience flow through Cupertino. As gatekeepers of the Mac platform, they could eliminate so many of the problems that the exceedingly heterogeneous PC platform incurs — badly written drivers, wildly varying hardware, multiple manufacturers, etc. Now, since the PCs of the mid-90’s were all running on x86 and the Macs of the time running PowerPC chips, no one took much notice. No dedicated Windows 98 user would even think of trying to run Mac OS on his PC — it was just plain impossible.
Then came Mac OS X and the Great Intel Switch.
All of a sudden, PC users took note of OS X. “Hey, it runs on Intel, why can’t we have it too?”, they wondered (“they” even including Dell CEO Michael Dell himself). Apple has never really made too much of a public fuss about the prospect, generally assuming a silent, stoic stance, ignoring all pleas from Vista-beleaguered PC owners.
Add into this mix the Psystar Open Computer. By all accounts, OCs are loud, generically appointed and unable to run standard Apple software updates. They also require a return trip to Psystar’s offices (and at least a $50 surcharge) should anything go wrong. Users cannot install Leopard by themselves (although none of the OC reviews make it clear whether this is by license or by some hardware hackery on their part).
So here’s my conspiracy theory: Apple, Jobs, et al., have decided to let Psystar live on, unmolested, as an object lesson to all PC users desirous of running OS X on their beloved mutant configurations. It makes the unified, well-oiled experience that is Mac OS X running on proper Macintosh hardware seem that much more attractive by comparison while simultaneously exposing folks that might not (initially) want to pay the premium prices legit Macs command. What better way to upsell geeks onto the Mac as a platform than to allow them a taste of OS X, albeit in a gray market, unsanctioned fashion?
The truly deep conspiracy theory, of which I have absolutely zero indicators or proof, is that Psystar is actually operating under the express permission of Apple in order to accomplish the above.
Call me crazy (in this instance, I likely am), but it makes at least a smidgen of sense to me.

Oh, 9/11 “Truthers”, Purveyors Of Endless Comedy And Inspiration For View-Co-Host-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named

That expressway tanker truck fire in Oakland the other day seems to have driven the 9/11 conspiracy nuts“truthers” well, to distraction, shall we say. The Fark thread commenting upon the affair (see Panicky 9/11 truth nutjobs debate Oakland gas tanker incident, see their WTC conspiracy theories collapse as quickly as that highway did) is absolutely hilarious in and of itself, but it also lead down a minor rat hole to conspiracy theories on the destruction of the first Death Star. To wit:

We’ve all heard the “official conspiracy theory” of the Death Star attack. We all know about Luke Skywalker and his ragtag bunch of rebels, how they mounted a foolhardy attack on the most powerful, well-defended battle station ever built. And we’ve all seen the video over, and over, and over, of the one-in-a-million shot that resulted in a massive chain reaction that not just damaged, but completely obliterated that massive technological wonder.
Like many citizens of the Empire, I was fed this story when I was growing up. But as I watched the video, I began to realize that all was not as it seemed. And the more I questioned the official story, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went.
Presented here are some of the results of my soul-searching regarding this painful event. Like many citizens, I have many questions that I would like answered: was the mighty Imperial government really too incompetent to prevent a handful of untrained nerf-herders from destroying one of their most prized assets? Or are they hiding something from us? Who was really behind the attack? Why did they want the Death Star destroyed? No matter what the answers, we have a problem.

Heh. Go ye and read and verily laugh.

Your Ponderable For The Day

What ever happened to “Ring-Around-the-Collar”?
If the advertising of my youth served as any indicator, RAtC was not only the enemy of those wishing to be well-dressed, but also the very fabric of civilized society itself. Detergent after detergent vowed RAtC as their mortal foe and boasted of their ability to vanquish such an insidious phenomenon.
So what happened? We never hear of this dreaded malady these days. Has the zeitgeist left Ring-Around-the-Collar behind? Is it no longer a concern to people in this day and age of cheap Chinese textile imports? Or is some far more nefarious conspiracy at work here? Has Big Laundry decided to push Mountain Fresh Scent in lieu of actual cleaning power? Or, perhaps Laundry Science has simply advanced to the point where anti-RAtC features are no longer a brand differentiator, in the same way that the presence of ketchup packets is no longer a differentiator between fast food chains?
Inquiring minds like mine want to know.

It’s Carpet-Callin’ Time

I’ve known Andy(I) for a long, long time and so I believe he’ll forgive me when I say: Bud, you’ve done run right off the intellectual tracks. The Miers withdrawal – a timed, planned diversion from potential indictments in the Affaire de Plame? Dude, I scored two points from pure Machiavelli himself on that stupid quiz they made us take junior year of high school and even I couldn’t conceive of a situation under which such a “Wag the Dog” scenario could in any way, shape or form be viable.
Firstly, on the Plame matter: there is no, I repeat, novery little evidence that a crime was even comitted in her identity being released to the press. The crimes committed were lies, told by Libby to the FBI and the grand jury which were motivated not by a desire to avoid any criminal responsibilities, but rather to avoid uncomfortable political implications regarding his boss. It looks as if Cheney and Libby, in the process of discussing Joe Wilson’s lie-filled New York Times editorial, talked about the fact that Wilson was sent to Niger at the behest of his wife, a CIA operative at the Agency’s WMD desk. Since both Libby and Cheney are cleared to talk about classified information, this conversation was well within their purview, regardless of whether Plame’s employment status was classified (a position both Fitzgerald and the CIA seem to be trying to take, although we’ll have to see if the evidence for such ever shows up if and when Libby actually goes to trial). The White House has likely known of Libby’s legal jeopardy for a long time and has been cooperating fully with Fitzgerald’s investigation.
Secondly, on the Miers nomination: I wholeheartedly believe that Bush made what he thought was a very clever, very slick selection in Miers. Problem was, he was too clever by half. It’s my belief that Bush was fed some bad information by Senate Republicans, possibly Bill Frist, but most likely Arlen Specter, claiming that Senate GOPers were unwilling to go to the mattresses for Bush’s next pick. Bush then faced a connundrum entirely of his own construction: how could he possibly live up to his campaign promise of nominating judges “in the vein of Thomas and Scalia” while avoiding a fight in the Senate he (and his staff, I’m guessing) thought he’d lose? In his mind, Harriet Miers was the ultimate solution to this problem: he’d known her for years and she fit his definition of a judicial conservative, yet she lacked a compelling paper trail for the Democrats to criticize. He could make assuring noises to his base and get Miers onto the bench with little fuss or muss. Unfortunately, he severely misread his base on this issue.
George Bush is, at heart, an MBA through-and-through. He’s results-oriented, he cares about the end results and, most times, waves his hands at the details, preferring to delegate the actual implementation of his visions to trusted officials. His pick of Miers was a very results-oriented pick: a woman, a conservative, little-to-no chance of a fight in the Senate. What he failed to realize was that the legal conservative (as opposed to social conservative) portion of his base is very much a process-oriented constituency. They are more than willing to have a judge with a consistent judicial philosophy issue a few rulings they manifestly disagree with than to have a judge whose philosophy is shrouded issue highly favorable rulings on a few key cases. That way lies O’Connorite incoherence.
For most of his presidency, Bush has had process-oriented advisors on hand to help him out – Condi Rice readily springs to mind, as does Karl Rove. However, in the case of Miers, Bush stripped himself of that advice. He nominated the person responsible for vetting his SCoTUS picks and, in doing so, cut his own lifeline to political realities. With Karl Rove distracted by the ongoing investigations, I think Bush lacked a strong “nay” against his pick and thus plowed ahead, assured of his own flawed reading of his base.
I do not credit George Bush with nearly as much guile and talent for subterfuge as his detractors do. His presidency has largely been marked by him saying what he intends on doing and then, inasmuch as he is able, doing so. For some reason, this mystifies his critics, including Andy.
In short: a Supreme Court nomination is a very, very big stage to be playing any sort of political chicken on, particularly when the career that’s on the line is one of a career bureaucrat whose invocation causes most Americans to say “Scooter who?”. Here on planet Earth, those are mighty long odds to be playing for very little gain.
Much more commentary on Scooter Libby chronicled here and here by Jeff Goldstein.
UPDATE: Also, see Rob Port for why there’d be no indictments at all had Libby told the Feebs the truth in the first place.