PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
July 12, 1999
Dog Days of Summer: Woof Woof
I have a day job, so I need to make it clear to anyone who comes here that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer, my family, or your great-aunt Mathilda. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. You must enter to win.
Table of Contents:
What's Happening Around Here
It has come to my attention that describing my daughters' trips to Europe made people think I was going. Nope. Those are both solo trips. Vicki and I, on the other hand, are getting away to nearby Bodega Bay, a windy oceanside vacation spot about 90 minutes north of Casa Schindler. We love the beaches (great for walking), the shops (great for shopping), the fresh seafood (great for eating) and the atmosphere (great for relaxing and unwinding). In fact, I am NOT taking my portable with me: that's right, three days without e-mail. In fact, I'll be on vacation as you read this column.
The Ties That Bind: Leaving Home
Joan Ryan, always an excellent personal memoir columnist, outdid herself on the Fourth of July with a column about how hard it is to "go home again" in the psychological sense. As someone who is about to send his elder daughter off into the world, it struck a special chord with me. One of the things that scares me most about the upcoming transition is the separation, the fact that she will now be her own person, with her own life, to most of which I will not be privy. You can read all of Looking for Ties Amid the Blur Of World's Whir at the Chronicle's web site, but here are some excerpts:
I am an outsider now, so different from the person who left home 20 years ago that I barely recognize her from this distance. And as I sat with my family around the familiar dining table telling familiar stories, I realized for the first time that we are all outsiders.
We walk through my parents' door with our secrets, our shifting outlooks, our new but unshared opinions. We aren't what the others think we are. We certainly aren't who we once were. Yet we happily drink our beer and eat the usual ribs and baked beans as if nothing has changed. That's why we go there.
I sat one day in Florida and watched my son play in the surf. I wondered how much of himself he'll check at the door later on. Already he has his secrets from his father and me.
Boy, I wish I could write like that.
A Special Note: Bruce Benoist, who lived next door to me when I was a kid, was this column's 1,000th reader.
I know this is going to make some of you really angry, and a few of you may even stop reading my column because of it, but it is an issue of the day, and I want to express my opinion, as well as my pride in my daughter.
You may be aware that the House has passed a constitutional amendment barring flag desecration. The Senate is unlikely to pass it, and Clinton even more unlikely to sign it. As for three-quarters of the states ratifying it--well, let's just say I couldn't take much pride in a nation that could reject the Equal Rights Amendment and then ratify this dog's breakfast.
Let me borrow the eloquence of others. "It would be the first time in the nation's history that the government would actually restrict the right to free expression," said an ACLU official. I agree with that. She says the amendment would allow people to be arrested for expressing political views.
There are those who believe that this amendment is actually unconstitutional. I think they're right. The First Amendment is first for a reason.
I am proud that my U.S. Representative, Ellen Tauscher, voted no. Rep. George Miller, also a Northern California Democrat, said the amendment is a political stunt that cheapens the flag and what it stands for. I agree with that as well.
How does this connect to pride in my daughter Marlow's political development? One day last week she came to me and said, "Dad, some friends of mine are organizing a flag burning to protest the amendment." I told her it was an excellent idea and that I hoped she'd participate. She later told me I was one of the few parents who did not register a protest to the idea.
Look, I don't think the American Flag should be burned willy-nilly for no good cause. But as it happens, I think freedom of expression is the highest and best cause in the Constitution. It has made America what it is today. In short, I think burning a flag to protest an amendment against burning the flag is a legitimate expression of political opinion.
The American Flag is not sacred, because it is not holy. It is a symbol, of the sacrifice of the thousands of American men and women who have given their lives to protect the country for which it stands. They gave their lives for their country, not the flag. And one of the rights they gave their lives for was freedom of expression. You can, I am sure, still be jailed for burning a Russian flag. I hope I don't live to see the day where a protester, burning an American flag in protest of a political issue, can be tossed in the can.
Living With Others: A Postscript
One of the eerie things about living alone, even for just a few days, is the precipitous drop in inter-human communication that occurs (well Duh). It reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently, in which a geeky guy says "I was just trying to remember the last time I had a conversation with a woman within 10 years of my age who wasn't operating a cash register at the time."
It occurs to me that I could have a full-blown case of laryngitis and not know it, because I haven't talked to anyone in 18 hours. But Vicki will be back this afternoon and life will regain a semblance of normality.
Unusually smart San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll had this to say on July 6 (down at the end of his column)
Marriage is not for sissies. Marriage is a lot like life, only with more fun parts. The stupid people have opinions about marriage, and these opinions are called ``values.'' My experience with marriage is that it is as fluid as water and as complex as the human mind, and that everyone does it differently and the only secret is showing up every day with an open heart.
Dog Days of Summer
I love the Internet. I was about to type the words, "I don't know the derivation of the term "Dog Days of Summer," when I realized there is no longer any excuse for that kind of laziness. One quick AltaVista search later, and I can tell you that, according to the Columbia Encyclopedia, available at Infoplease.com:
Dog days" is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after theconjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun. In the latitude of the Mediterranean region this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort. The time of conjunction varies with difference in latitude, and because of the precession of the equinoxes it changes gradually over long periods in all latitudes.
Well, we're in the dog days now (and the actually extend until Labor Day, metaphorically), so there isn't much happening in the computer business.
Cyberspace Declaration of Independence
Over the Fourth of July holiday, I received this from Jay Fenello President of Iperdome. Find the full document here.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
ByJohn Perry Barlow
We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.
Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.
…You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.
…These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.
As I read it, I imagined it had been written this weekend. Imagine my surprise to find it datelined Davos, Switzerland and dated February 8, 1996. Internet time may be many times faster than real-world time, but some things either never change, or don't change fast enough.
Craig Reynolds wrote to me:
This is probably too specialized for either of your readerships, but note that I recently spun-off a new web page on "stylized depiction" in computer graphics:
It IS a little obscure for my Byte.com readership, but as it happens, at least a half-dozen of my readers here are hard-core graphics types (or cartoon/animation types) who might well be interested in some of your links. It might surprise you to learn that I found a couple of the links interesting as well. Besides, I liked your quotation about non-linear physics, since I practice non-traditional journalism.
Top 15 Signs You're Getting Special Treatment In The Military
I note with pride that one of my Macarena submissions made the list--a very rare occurrence.
July 9, 1999www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White ]
15> Drill Sergeant: "I don't care WHO your daddy... oh, carry on, sir."
14> He's the first soldier allowed to "telecombat."
13> "Drop and give me fifty! Push-ups or dollars, whichever you prefer!"
12> Monday 0600 hours: 16 mile hikes with full packs. Him: stay in bed, eat bon-bons and watch "The View," then assist the General's teenage daughter "Crystal" with her bikini-waxing.
11> Read my lips: no combat duty.
10> "Monsieur Thurmond, we're starting the campaign against the Tsar, you stay here and guard the vineyards."
9> His drill sergeant: Isabella Rosselini.
His orders: sing "Blue Velvet" again.
8> Fatigues by Armani, boots by Gucci, canteen by Prada
7> She doesn't get a recording of "Taps" every night -- she gets a live performance of "Riverdance."
6> They count his rides in the 25-cent plane outside the supermarket as "time in a flight simulator."
5> His orders are to patrol Malibu beach in case of Serbian attack.
4> He still uses the Cub Scout salute.
3> Awarded the Purple Heart for stubbing his toe during Macarena contest and chipping his tooth on a margarita glass while on a top secret mission in a Tijuana brothel.
2> Every night at Taps, finds a chocolate impaled on his bayonet.
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Sign of Special Treatment in the Military...
1> "This is your room with a view of the eighteenth hole, Private Bush, and if there's anything else I can do to make your stay in boot camp more comfortable, please just ask for Drill Sergeant Nowicki."
Just the facts (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).
Director: Dennis Dugan; Story: Steve Franks; Screenplay: Steve Franks and Tim Herlihy & Adam Sandler. Tagline: Nature called. Look who answered. Plot Outline: A man who's upset that his brother's getting married adopts a kid and gets more than he expected. User Comments: Adam Sandler vehicle - nuff said. Adam Sandler: Sonny Koufax.
No point in listing any of the cast below Sandler. By the way (I love knowing insider stuff), when you see "and" in a writing credit, it means two separate writers, whereas "&" signifies a writing team. Thus, Herlihy and Sandler wrote together. The writing credit for this film means, "Steve Franks dreamed up the idea, and wrote the first draft of the script, most of which remained. Herlihy and Sandler, as a team, modified the script. Franks contributed more than Herlihy who contributed more than Sandler to the final script."
So I've been wondering lately if the GOP was right--has indignation died? I looked back over my summer movie viewing and realized that I was not offended by the Zeta-Jones/Connery age difference in Entrapment (didn't notice, didn't care), the racial stereotypes in Phantom Menace (didn't notice, don't care), the infantile humor in Austin Powers and South Park (noticed, don't care), or the utter preposterousness of the racial references in Wild Wild West (noticed, don't care).
In fact, in this space, last week, in my mild rave on behalf of South Park, I wondered aloud of my own mental development was, perhaps, arrested in adolescence, thus allowing me to enjoy the film.
As a test, I went to see Big Daddy. I thought this movie was going to be s a compelling argument for a PG-13+ rating--no one with a developmental age over 13 admitted.
Well, I just saw the film, and there are a few things I need to say about it:
Yes, this movie includes wall-side urination, one vomiting scene, and the patented Sandler "insane in public" act. But if you cut four minutes out of this film (I don't know about you, but I am capable of squinting for that long), it is a romantic comedy, not that dissimilar from The Wedding Singer.
The critics said the sentimentality was false and cloying. No more so than in a hundred other, better received Hollywood films.
Boy, it's almost enough to make me lose my faith in critics. Big Daddy is a simple film, really, a pastiche or homage to a hundred other "kid gets dropped on my doorstep and I fall in love with him" pictures.
It is entertaining, not disgusting, and amusing and sweet.
Which still doesn't mean I am sorry I skipped Water Boy, and plan to continue to give it a pass. No one could make that trailer out of even two minutes of a movie I'd otherwise enjoy. But this one might just tug at your heartstrings a little. Maybe, just maybe, Adam Sandler isn't the antichrist.
The Silence Of The Readers
No letters, which I am enjoying with a nice white wine and some fava beans.
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