PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
May 28, 2001
Good News From Washington At Last!
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.
Some Material in this column comes from anonymous incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Arial (Sans Serif) type font to distinguish it from the original material
Table of Contents:
Yeah Jim Jeffords!
Gosh, you could cut the irony with a knife. Conservative political operatives were plotting on the best way to punish Jim Jeffords for voting to cut down the President's unsoak-the-rich tax plan, probably by killing off an agricultural subsidy for Vermont dairy farmers. Thus it was the finest kind of irony when, instead of the rock-ribbed punishing him, Jeffords turns around and punishes them. He could have said, as so many before him have when switching in either direction, "I didn't leave the party, it left me." He didn't use those exact words, but as a member of an endangered species (liberal Republicans), I hope and think he may have started a trend. Maybe this country will finally have two clear, distinct parties, like most industrial democracies.
Anyway, I doubt he'll have much trouble with the people of Vermont. I'm from Oregon, where the graybeards among us still remember Wayne Morse going from the GOP to the Democratic side (OK, it happened two years before I was born, but it was still very much in living memory when I was a boy), and being rewarded with 18 more years of a distinguished Senate career, only to be replaced by the blandly interchangeable Bob Packwood (Packwood and Mark Hatfield, both liberal Republicans, were so bland they were sometimes called Packfield and Hatwood).
While we're on the subject of politics, Jonathan E.D. Richmond forwards this, from a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times:
Re "Bush Returns to Yale, Gives Graduates the Last Laugh," May 22: President Bush's graduation speech at Yale's commencement exercises was an insult to the Yale graduates, the university, the presidency and the nation. His speech, mostly silly jokes and self-deprecating humor, was sophomoric and shallow and would have been more appropriate at a fraternity roast.
Well, actually, I thought it was amusing, and I really liked the Tappett brothers when they gave the commencement address at my 25th MIT reunion.
Anyway, along the same lines, during his opening remarks on the May 25th program, Garrison Keillor noted that his return to Yale must have made Bush feel right at home:
Just like before, someone else wrote his paper.
Laundry On The Line
As a means of saving energy, we've taken to hanging our laundry on a clothesline we built out in back of the house. As Doonesbury noted recently, thousands of California communities prohibit clotheslines as part of their Covenants, Codes and Restrictions (CCRs). I am sure Alice Lane is among that number. But since our line isn't visible from the street--can only be seen, in fact, from the house above us--we're hoping not to get ratted out.
I am sure this is not an original or profound observation, but it really changes your relationship to your clothing when you hang it out to dry. Grabbing a lump of sodden cloth and throwing it in a drier is one thing. Hanging out each item individually, then checking to see if it is dry, gives you a chance to contemplate each item individually. Not always a pleasant experience, especially if you're a guy (guys develop long-term relationships with their clothing), but an interesting one. And that, along with turning the hot tub way down when we're not using it, has made a visible dent in our skyrocketing electric bill. Now if this cold weather will just hold…
One other clothing related note: this week, I was forced to discard three of my favorite shirts, all gifts from Vicki, all a decade or more old; the old black semi-Hawaiian shirt, the brown stripped seersucker shirt, and a cotton short-sleeved number. The first two were in tatters, the third permanently stained. I mourn them. As I said, men have a different relationship with their clothes than most women I know.
Rae has been after us for some time to engage in a family activity and try a different kind of vacation. Vicki and I struggled mightily to convince her that staying in a nice motel somewhere would be quieter and more comfortable than camping, but she is adamant, so we are headed for Salt Pine State Park, north of Jenner, for a night on the ground Sunday. I'll report back next week.
Part of the problem, of course, is that what we're looking for in a vacation is "relaxing," while what Rae is looking for is "exciting." That's something that never gets resolved, I don't think, except of course by alternating exciting and relaxing.
China's Ecological Problems
Richard Dalton passed along this note from the WorldWatch institute:
On April 18, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, reported that a huge dust storm from northern China had reached the United States "blanketing areas from Canada to Arizona with a layer of dust." They reported that along the foothills of the Rockies the mountains were obscured by the dust from China.
This dust storm did not come as a surprise. On March 10, 2001, The People's Daily reported that the season's first dust storm-one of the earliest on record-had hit Beijing. These dust storms, coupled with those of last year, were among the worst in memory, signaling a widespread deterioration of the rangeland and cropland in the country's vast northwest.
Of course, the President won't rest until we catch up with China.
Computer Industry News
More Recycling of Old PCs
If you're like me, and I know some of you are, you have old PCs you can't give away, and you wonder about the advisability of simply tossing them in a landfill. That's a bad thing. A better thing is to recycle them. Richard Dalton forwards this news from Excite:
For a fee, HP now will pick up any manufacturer's electronics from individual customers who sign up on a Web site, besides its recycling program already established for businesses. Businesses negotiate a contract to pay HP for the recycling service.
Very commendable. Here are some related websites:
My friend Dr. Robert Kaplan found this. It is silly and inappropriate, but clever and can be satisfying after a long day of wondering about presidential leadership.
Also, don't miss Merle Kessler on J.Lo. Funny as always.
Now That's Bad Writing
These are being sent around the Internet as actual winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. These are NOT real winners, but they are funny, so I present them here.
10) "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber he would never hear the end of it."
9) "Just beyond the Narrows the river widens."
8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned, unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."
7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the east wall: "Andre creep ... Andre creep ... Andre creep."
6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex change surgeon to become the woman he loved."
5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store."
4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."
3) "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."
2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word "fear," a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."
AND THE WINNER IS ...
1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the green sward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"
Not As Such
You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database
A Word From Marlow
Marlow's International Relations teacher sent out "A Medieval Sociology of International Relations." Here's an excerpt:
The nobles in international relations are the elite scholars at the top universities, typically on the East Coast, but with some outliers such as Chicago and Berkeley. Like their medieval counterparts, the nobles of the IR field have few useful skills and do very little that can be characterized as work. Much of their life is spent in social activity. As the medieval nobles could spend entire weeks at jousting tournaments, today's nobles spend inordinate amounts of time going to seminars, workshops, conferences, invited lectures, not to mention lunches, sherry hours, honorary dinners, and buffets. They organize edited volumes, participate in edited volumes organized by their friends, and review edited volumes for presses. The life of the nobility is a constant round of intense social interaction, and they train for it from early graduate school by attending parties on a regular basis.
It then proceeds in this vein through the peasants and the clergy.
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