PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 15

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

April 15, 2002

Think About Volunteering

I no longer have a day job, so every word of this is my opinion, and if you don't like it, lump it. This offer is NOT void in Wisconsin.

Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material

Family photos 1, 2, 3
To Pay For This Column

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Fencing in Fresno
  • Strong Feelings About Quotes
  • Soup Kitchen
  • World Trade Center Update
  • Teaching Credential Update

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds Technobriefs
  • AOL To Users: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Web Site of the Week

  • Just For Fun

Humor

  • Flies
  • The Top 15 "SlamBall" Rules

Movies

  • Set Straight on Cabin Boy

Letters

  • Joe Brancatelli Wins Observer Of The Week, Craig Reynolds on ANWR, Dan Grobstein's Grab Bag

General News

Fencing in Fresno

My mother flew in from Portland and we made the three-hour drive with Rae to Fresno for a PCC (Pacific Coast Championship) fencing tournament. We lucked out with nice weather (it only got up to 75 each day, it can get a lot hotter in Fresno), a decent pair of hotel rooms and pretty good food. Rae did OK in the regular fencing, but then discovered the joys of team fencing. She fenced with a pickup team of two guys and had a terrific time.

Every tournament is a learning experience, no matter how you finish. Rae is becoming a more polished fencer with every trip we take. She is learning to go beyond her comfort zone. She has great potential; she is now on her way to fulfilling it. And she's always fun to watch and to be with.

Here's what Rae wrote about it:

Super Jake!!!
I just finished competing in the Jr. PCC's and although my ranking is nothing special, as usual I'm satisfied with my work (9 out of 15 in U-19 women's epee I think). My number one fan, Gammie was down from Portland Oregon, and it was nice having my cheering section one more strong. I fenced fiercely because today is the last day of spring break, and I was fighting to keep every moment of it. My coach, George Platt, someone I view as a second father really, has been riding me like a horse recently. He got angry at me for not fencing outside my comfort zone- I shoulda fleched more, I coulda executed my false attack disengage attacks more assertively, I woulda placed higher. Dam, I thought a couple months ago by this time I woulda added a myriad of new attacks to my repertoire.

Rae Schindler- risk taker. I guess I have to get used to that new title, or face a fencing career of stagnated mediocrity. Never! Georgeís tongue lashing will not soon be forgotten.

The absolute highlight of the tournament was the team fencing! Iíd never done it before. Teams consist of three, and each team fences each other relay style in five touch increments (or 4 minute increments whichever comes first) until one team reaches 45. I had to ask every blasting person in the room before I could put together a team with two other people: Jake (14) and Sam (13). Sam (who finished 2nd place U-16 epee) was our anchor, who always fenced the last part of the bout. The tensest part was when Sam inherited a score of 40-34. The other guy got the score up to 44, but Sam was able to get up to 40 until the other guy finally finished us off. It was so exciting and fun that we didnít care that our team lost. Our team had an instant camaraderie and it was fun because our team was called "Super Jake." It started out as the facetious name that some smart-ass kid suggested because poor Jake had lost every bout he had fenced that day. Jake sure turned it on for Sam and I though. His style was patient and defensive and although our team lost the two bouts we fenced in and finished last out of four, we were competitive. The cheering was fun. I yelled at Jake to "jakenize" our opponents and we would yell at top volume "Sam- Sam- heís our man!" and then out low volume Jake and I would say "kill him with a frying pan." Gosh darn it, I only learned one tactical trick from the team experience, but we had a blast.

Strong Feelings About Quotes

I've been waiting for one of my really opinionated correspondents to check in on the quote controversy. This comment was written by a person who never hesitates to take a strong position on any issue. Those of you who have been following this exchange know that this goes way beyond my personal position.

It is a total perversion for a journalist to tell a source what to say without reporting that the thought or statement was the journalist's and was made or agreed to at the request of the journalist. If the journalist wants to report, I had a chat with X and suggested this is what he wanted to say, that is perfectly permissible as long as the story reads like this:

This is a news article and my editors would never in a million years let me state my opinion here. However, I want to state my opinion here. So, I called X and X agreed to allow me to quote him saying "_______", however those words never even left X's mouth even though I am reporting to you through the use of quotation marks that the material in the quotes was actually said by X. Alternatively, if the statement is reported as an indirect quote and is not in quotation marks, X never said or thought anything close to what I reported X said. Therefore, on the authority of The New York Times, I hereby report on the front page of The New York Times that X said: "____", or alternatively, X said that ______. You, dear reader, should have every confidence that the next time I report something on deep background or attribute it to an anonymous source or state something else as fact that you have absolutely no way of verifying that what I say happened or was said is exactly what happened or was said.

Soup Kitchen

I volunteer regularly at a soup kitchen in Oakland run by an Indian guru called Ammachi. I find it fulfilling. If you're looking for a place to do charity work, you could start by clicking here. It might help you feel better about yourself and life.

World Trade Center Update

When I heard on NPR that the memorial lights in Manhattan will go out soon, I asked journalist Dan Rosenbaum, who used to have a very good view of the twin towers from his Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, to describe the situation. His report:

"I've seen the lights go out on Broadway
I saw the ruins at my feet
You know we almost didn't notice it
We'd seen it all before on Forty second Street"

-- Billy Joel, "Miami 2017"

The idea that a set of spotlights should be part of a memorial to the dead and injured of September 11 had been floated even before the dust settled. In a city where production values rank high on a list of civic virtues, the idea of twin towers of light extending to the heavens felt distinctly apropos. When the Towers were first attacked in 1993, the city made sure that the lights in the buildings came back on as soon as possible; that the building at least looked alive made everyone feel a little better in the immediate aftermath.

There were problems with the concept, including the minor matter that a spotlight powerful enough to be seen would be powerful enough to blind pilots. (That pilots were still allowed to fly over the World Trade Center site was not a little discomfiting, but that's another matter.) Nonetheless, on the six-month anniversary of the attack -- and by the way, is there a better or more elegant term than "six-month anniversary"? Semi-anniversary? -- the spots came on. Eighty-eight of them, arrayed in two squares with the same footprint as the towers, though about a block west of the original site. The lights came in from as far away as Salt Lake City, where they'd last been used in the Olympics. Even in New York, it seems, there is sometimes a need to import lighting.

Seen close up, the lights look more like a beaded curtain than a beacon, the individual strands not merging until the atmosphere spreads the beams. From a distance of a mile or two, the towers of light look different depending on the day: crisp and close on cool dry nights, ethereal and more distant on nights with high humidity. On overcast nights, the beacons paint the bottoms of low-hanging clouds. From many angles, they looked more like a single tower than two.

It was clear from the start that the lights were a temporary thing. It's expensive to rent spotlights and operators, not to mention the electrical power required. And the lights themselves are probably booked for a supermarket opening somewhere. But many in the city hope that whatever replaces the World Trade Center has some sort of memorial not unlike the towers of light -- something that New Yorkers can look toward the skies to navigate by, a constant reminder of the monstrosity inflicted on the city and the nation.

Teaching Credential

I have begun night classes at Chapman University's Concord, Calif., campus; four hours on Monday and Thursday nights, with the goal of getting my teaching credential and then my masters' degree. It is very scary: lots of papers, lots of field work, lots of reading. Vicki tells me it is a snap. I hope she is right. Just at the moment, I'm not sure I can do it; it seems overwhelming. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if I could just get a college job, I wouldn't have to make it as a high school teacher.

I've been asked to substitute for the high school drama teacher next week. That looks exciting.

Mark Your Calendars: Paul In Concert

Mark your calendars and don't miss this event. If you don't live around here, fly in for it. The music will be great and the second tenor saxophone will be... well, modesty forbids. I won't be announcing; there won't be an announcer.

Contra Costa Wind Symphony
Gala 20th Anniversary Concert
Saturday, April 27th, 2002 8 p.m.

Hofmann Theatre
Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts
Walnut Creek, California.

Tickets are now available. Call the Regional Center Box Office at
(925) 943-SHOW

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

As discussed in PSACOT before Feb 25 and Mar 4) Microsoft's .Net marketing concept is not well grounded in reality. Last week it lost yet another reason to exist when its Hailstorm / My Services / Persona component was cancelled due to lack of anyone giving a damn about it: Microsoft Has Shelved Its Internet 'Persona' Service

Microsoft ends .Net linchpin

CBDTPA update: The Washington Post carried this sharply-worded
discussion of Holling's bill:
As Copyright Gets a Starring Role, We're Cast as the Villains

"[CBDTPA] raises many questions. For instance, when did it become government's job to promote broadband and digital television in the first place? How will making TVs and computers less capable foster that goal? What's to stop the other 5.9 billion people on earth from making their own, non-copy-crippled hardware and software? And just why do we need this technological totalitarianism in the first place?..."

From Reuters: Digital-Copyright Bill Inspires Flurry of Criticism

The San Francisco Chronicle carried a detailed report called Copyright's Next Chapter subtitled "Proposed copyright law raises controversy [...] Latest legislation tries to control the technology itself". It includes a timeline of significant events in copyright law.

Marc Andreessen tells the recording industry that its Copy protection efforts are doomed. He suggests that like software, music will move to being much cheaper but sold in significantly higher volume.

The music industry says their sales are down because of Napster and CD-burners. George Scriban blogged an alternate explanation.

[And let me just say I think there are numerous alternative explanations for music industry doldrums besides digital music on the web, which I consider the least likely suspect --Paul]

CNN says while the web has lost the "luster of the new" it remains as popular as ever due to its practical utility: Has the Web become humdrum?

Upcoming: Microsoft Is Poised to Launch Antitrust Defense

AOL To Users: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

This comes from Fred Langa's Newsletter and was too good not to reprint:

Many of you will remember Mike Elgan from the days of Windows Magazine--- he's now at Interex. and is still running "Mikes' List."

Mike was the first of several readers who sent along this wonderful item:

After the AOL/Time-Warner merger, the edict went out to all 82,000 employees of the media giant that they had to use AOL email for company communications.

To its chagrin, the company has finally admitted what millions of others already know: "...the e-mail software frequently crashed, staffers werenít able to send messages with large attachments, they were often kicked offline without warning, and if they tried to send messages to large groups of users they were labeled as spammers and locked out of the system. Sometimes, e-mails were just plain lost in the AOL netherworld and never found." In fact, they found that about 2% of AOL emails never made it to their intended recipients!

Although AOL still touts its email as a wonderful thing in its ads, it now allows its own employees to use email from other ISPs!

You gotta love it.

Fred's right. I do love it.

Web Site of the Week

Just For Fun

A middle-school student told me to go to Ask Jeeves and ask: drink me, deja vu, how are you and "What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow." All the answers are amusing.

Also of interest is an Easter Egg site. Search for funky camel, then just browse around.

Humor

Flies

A farmer got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding. The trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed and, in general, began to throw his weight around.

Finally, the trooper got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing so, he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head. The farmer said, "Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?" The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said, "Well yeah, if that's what they are. I never heard of circle flies. "The farmer says, "Well, circle flies are common on farms. They're called circle flies because they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse." The trooper says, "Oh!", and goes back to writing the ticket. After a bit he stops and says, "Hey! Wait a minute! Are you trying to call me a horse's ass?"

The farmer says, "Oh no, officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horse's ass."

"Well, that's a good thing.", says the trooper, and goes back to writing the ticket. After a long pause, the farmer says, "Hard to fool them flies though."

The Top 15 "SlamBall" Rules

April 11, 2002

NOTE FROM CHRIS:

"SlamBall," a new sport, will soon debut as a TNN TV series with the intention of becoming a sports league. The hybrid sport incorporates trampolines, and combines elements from basketball, football, hockey and gymnastics.

15> Stop laughing!

14> All teams must contain at least one monkey. Hey, it can't hurt -- monkeys are funny *and* play good defense.

13> Double points for anything slammed off of John Madden's or Dick Vitale's head.

12> Players can earn immediate release from penalty box by coming up with a new "You might be a redneck" joke.

11> No poking fun at the former XFL guys on the team.

10> Any team losing two in a row is forced to play naked until they win a game.

9> No exposed internal organs? No foul.

8> Stepping off your unicycle to cross-check an opponent who is dismounting from the electric bull will result in a five-yard penalty, and the opposing team will regain possession of the snitch.

7> Score a goal: 5 points. Score a cheerleader: 500 points.

6> The offside rule doesn't apply while either coach is breast feeding.

5> If the puck collides with the pig, the possession arrow changes -- unless the pig dies, in which case the game is declared a draw and the post-game luau begins.

4> At random intervals, the P.A. music stops and all players have to find an empty chair.

3> Twenty separate two-minute periods are each followed by a 10-minute Zima break.

2> Automatic suspension for stating, "Hey, this game SUCKS!"

and Topfive.com's Number 1 "SlamBall" Rule...

1> White guys get to use extra-bouncy trampolines.

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ] [ Copyright 2002 by Chris White ]
========================
Selected from 93 submissions from 34 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
------------------------------------
Mark Schmidt, Paris, France -- 1 (17th #1/Hall of Famer)
Joseph Prisco, Ithaca, NY -- 2
Pat Sajak, Los Angeles, CA -- 2
Slick Sharkey, Miami, FL -- 13, (Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 13

Movies

Set Straight On Cabin Boy

I called Cabin Boy the worst film ever made last week. Tom LaSusa set me straight:

I'll have you know that 'Cabin Boy' has provided my friends and I with one of the finest non-sequitur comments around...

"Do you wanna buy a monkey?"

Oh and,

"Thank you for that...whatever that was"

Oh and "These Pipes...are CLEAN!"

While it may certainly be the worst movie ever made, I encourage everyone to see it at least once so they can universally concur on this fact. It's so utterly bad, I find myself compelled to watch it.

God bless Chris Elliot. And God Bless America!

(Because God knows it's only in this crazy country he could have tripped on a pile of dung and landed in Hollywood.)

Letters

Joe Brancatelli Wins Observer Of The Week, Craig Reynolds on ANWR, Dan Grobstein's Grab Bag

Joe Brancatelli wrote:

Gobsmacked?

Which wins him "most observant reader of the week." Gobsmacked is one of my favorite little-used words. I think it literally means being hit on the side of the head; I use it figuratively for "shocked or surprised." Great word. You should use it too.

Craig Reynolds checks in with these findings on oil drilling:

Finally, from "This Modern World", a proposal for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that even a tree-hugging, knee-jerk liberal like me can support:

The pro- and anti-ANWR-drilling PR machines have been kicked into high gear this week as the Senate debates the issue, which is already included in a House-passed energy reform bill. Here are two stories on the cat-and-mouse (or is it wolf-and-caribou?) PR game being waged over this issue:

Video battle over arctic refuge

Warnings On Drilling Reversed

Two from Dan Grobstein, both from the New York Times:

'60 Minutes' and Its Icon Plan for Shift in Generations
April 8, 2002
By JIM RUTENBERG
Mike Wallace, who turns 84 in May, says that next fall he will severely reduce his involvement with "60 Minutes," the CBS news magazine that he helped start in 1968.

...

Tell the Good News. Then Cash In
April 7, 2002
By DAVID LEONHARDT
The profits were an illusion. The multimillion-dollar rewards for executives were real.

Over the last few years, executives at some companies released inaccurate earnings statements and, before correcting them, sold large amounts of stock at inflated prices. At others, executives insisted for months that the recent recession would not much affect their businesses. By the time they acknowledged their error, some had sold millions of shares at prices that were just a memory.

It happened at major technology companies like Oracle and Sun Microsystems . It happened at Guess and at Xerox , at Dollar General , a discount retailer, and at Providian Financial , a credit card company.

To obtain a weekly reminder when new columns are posted or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism write to me: paul@schindler.org

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