PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS 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.
September 15, 2003 Vol. 5, No. 38
Table of Contents:
One Tired Teacher
As a matter of fact, the 8th graders ARE running me ragged. Or, probably, to be more precise, I am running myself ragged. I have to learn to relax. I had back spasms today after school--for the first time since my second week of student teaching. This too will pass.
So here's the problem. I have a job in which the costs are obvious, physical and short-term--exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety. Meanwhile, the benefits are subtle, psychological and long-term--doing some good in the world, helping young people learn, introducing them to history. How does one balance this? How do you push through the short-term so you can enjoy the long-term? After a few conversations with my mother, I am fairly certain these never balance. The dailyness of the job always outweighs the benefits. You just do what you have to.
One recurring thought I've had this week; I have to have some sort of job. The odds of my getting a work-at-home, set-my-own-hours journalism job again are zero. Less than zero. So, realistically, would I feel better and derive more satisfaction if I was selling stocks or real estate, or working on the copy desk of the local daily? I know for sure that in any of those jobs, I'd be doing less good for the world. I want to do good. Sometimes, doing good involves personal pain and sacrifice.
And yet, and yet... Vicki asked me earlier this week to tone down the griping. I was apparently coming home every day talking about my aches and pains and fears. I stopped talking about them--and some of them stopped. Boy howdy, isn't life a lot about your attitude? Everyone has commented on how much more positive I seem. It's really like the old Wizard of Id cartoon, "How are things?" "Can't complain." "So, things are good?" "No. It's illegal to complain."
A quick, final, anonymous note: both of my master teachers have stayed in touch and provided excellent advice on coping, as well as copious advice (and lesson plans) for teaching.
An Old Marlow Story Or Two
Robert Malchman wrote
I really liked the stuff you've been writing/running about Marlow and Rae. My own recollection (and showing how old I've gotten) is being on the phone with you, probably 1984 or '85. I don't remember what we were talking about, but I'm sure it was some Serious Journalistic Issue, and you, of course, to me were Paul Schindler, The Producer, professional journalist and EIC during The Tech's most recent Glory Period, and you were very seriously conversing with me about the Serious Journalistic Issue, when all of a sudden you started saying in this little, high voice, "No, Marlow, Daddy's on the phone. Yes, that's a pretty picture. No, go show Mommy," and the rest of the conversation was split between you trying to be Serious Journalist Guy with me and gently paying attention/shooing Marlow away. And now she's a college grad on her own in Taipei. How quickly they grow up!
I had a very similar incident a few years earlier with Charlie Lecht, computer industry pioneer and author of Waves of Change, a very important book about the future of computing he wrote during the 1970s. I was interviewing him from my home office for Information Systems News, when my infant daughter Marlow started crying. I apologized for this, which I felt was unprofessional. His response was that the only unprofessional thing going on was me ignoring my daughter. I could talk to him anytime; I needed to go see what Marlow wanted.
Two decades later, Charlie is dead (much too young, I might add), and I still don't know what Marlow wants.
I enjoy laying in the hammock in our backyard (no trees; it is on a hammock stand) and reading for a half-hour or so at dusk on summer afternoons. It is so comfortable, I thought I'd spend a night out there. I'd done it before, but was driven inside by the cold. This time, I laid blankets above and below and though the chill night would be just fine. I also had eyeshades, so dawn wouldn't necessarily awaken me.
Well. First of all, the crickets keep it up until well past midnight. Secondly, it was so cold that keeping my hands warm kept me awake (which is funny, because when I was at MIT I slept in a dorm with the window open in the winter--and let me tell you brother that's cold). And finally, I was sleepy all day, plus my back hurt, which means I didn't sleep very well and wasn't getting enough support.
Bottom line: hammocks, like most things in life, are best enjoyed in moderation. Still, if I ever had a choice during a campout, I'd prefer a hammock to a sleeping bag. Any day.
Smut Filter Redux
Apropos of my comment last week about the smut filter you must use as an 8th grade teacher, a friend wrote:
By way of admitting that I still remember some of the stuff from when I was 13 and by way of confirming your analysis of pubescent boys and smut, when I was in 8th grade, BTB meant "bite the bone." If that little bit of Americana has survived the last 40 years, you may have to lower your filter yet again.
Thank you for the tip. That must have been either before or after my time, or else I missed it because I was so naive. In 8th grade, I made a paper mache football player and, at the suggestion of a "friend" gave him jersey number 69. The art teacher was angry, until he realized I really didn't know why it was a bad idea. He sent me home to ask my parents. It was not one of my father's finest moments, but he explained it to me. I'll stop abbreviating at B4 The Bell.
Report from Taiwan
So, everyone who comes to Taipei is supposed to go to snake alley. Its right near Longshan Temple. Its a night market with snake charmers. The night market itself wasn't actually that impressive (I'm hoping to go to ShihLin soon, that's supposed to have the best shopping), but there were some snakes. The alley with the snakes has actually become rather institutionalized. Its in a pavilion instead of open-air like the rest of the market and all the other night markets I've seen. There wasn't so much snake charming as snake harassing and killing. The guy who we stopped to watch was speaking some Taiwanese dialect (not Mandarin) so it was hard to follow what he was saying. But he started off playing with a little snake, wrapping it around his arm, putting it in his pocket, cracking jokes, etc. Then came the King Cobras. At first he just took one out in a cage and harassed it with a long metal stick until it leapt out of the cage at a black cloth he was waving. That was pretty scary, then he put that cage away and took out another king cobra from a bigger cage that held multiple snakes. He opened a bigger door and started fishing around to get one to attack in such a way that he could grab it behind the head and clamp its mouth shut. In the process though he released two. It was really freaky. He had one snake by the head and the other by the tail. The one he had by the tail didn't seem to want to go back into the cage, but eventually things worked out. He hung up the one he had clamped by the head on a piece of string with some already dead snakes hanging off of it. He sloughed off the dead skin and then sure enough slit it. He took out the heart and put it on the counter and it continued to beat for the rest of the time we were there. That was super weird, you kind of have to see it to believe it. Then he took out the stomach and removed the bile into a green liquid-filled pitcher. He bled the snake into another pitcher. Snake blood and bile are/were considered aphrodisiacs, so there were also a lot of sex shops in this alley (and before they cracked down apparently there also used to be a lot of brothels). As he started pouring shots into shot glasses of the green bile filled liquid and the blood, we decided we'd seen enough. It was definitely a memorable and unique experience, but I don't know that I'll be repeating it anytime soon.
Also yesterday I saw a counter-rally to the UN rally I saw on Saturday. This was a "let's stay with China" rally. They have professional flags made up and everyone is wearing the same t-shirt. I noticed this about both rallies. Very different from protests in the states. Taiwan is somewhat new to participation in democracy so the people are still working out the kinks in things like protesting... according to one guy I talked to the government also doesn't really know what to make of protests, in the beginning they would just give in to whatever was demanded to save face. Both sides are starting to get more into the rhythm now, but its definitely not like in the states.
Taking garbage out here is kind of fun. The garbage trucks come every day but weds and sunday. They play an American ice cream truck style song and everyone floods out of all the apartment buildings with their garbage and recyclables. There's not just one truck but three. There are different days for the different kinds of recycling, but the first day I went one of hte trucks was for "foodstuffs", basically a travelling compost heap. It was kind of an interesting colorful pile of Chinese food odds and ends. Man, so different from America. Dropping my garbage down the garbage chute in New York never gave me such an intimate or community based experience, although come to think of it driving the golf-cart down the hill in Orinda is also pretty fun as far as garbage taking-out goes.
Tomorrow is Zhong Qiu Jie (Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival) we get the day off from school, so I probably won't be able to check my email here. I'm going to go to a performance at the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial, weather permitting. I wonder what happens to the moon festival if it is too cloudy to see the moon? I have been eating yue bing (moon cakes) basically since I got here.
This weekend I'm going to a Confucian temple with a group of Shi Da kids for a pottery exposition, arranged through the culture and tourism office.
Given George Bush's woeful ignorance of how to preserve and protect the national security of the United States or even how to keep an unclassified document secure (let alone one which is actually classified), PSACOT's editorial staff thought it would be possible to obtain a copy of one of the almost final drafts of Bush's speech on Sunday night, September 7, 2003. So we asked our bureau chief in the capital of the world's oldest democracy to see if a copy could be obtained. Sure enough, after receiving our request, the PSACOT Moscow bureau chief located and sent the available portions of the next to last draft of the speech (for the reader's convenience, the text as delivered is in normal type and the deleted portions are in BOLD TYPE).
Good evening. Since I have been on vacation for the last month while many brave American soldiers unnecessarily gave their lives in Iraq due to my stupidity and the need to get some money to Dick Cheney's pals at Halliburton and some oil for Condoleeza Rice's friends at Chevron who named one of their tankers for her, I asked for this time to give you the idea I was going to keep you informed of America's actions in what Karl Rove, Don Rumsfeld and I refer to (when we're not laughing our heads off at the gullibility of the American people) as the war on terror. To be honest, there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with the events of 9/11/01 but every time I make one of these thinly veiled references I convince a few more Americans (on top of the 70% who have already been fooled) that there was a connection.
This is a brutal but honest correction of the record. Read the rest of it at Bush Speech Semi-Final Draft.
On September 11, 2002, Mike Allen, White House Correspondent for The Washington Post, wrote an interesting article ("Bush Cites 9/11 On All Manner Of Questions; References Could Backfire") which appeared on page A12 of The Washington Post. Of note: "In the past six weeks Bush has cited "9/11" or Sept. 11, 2001, in arguing for his energy policy and in response to questions about campaign fundraising, tax cuts, unemployment, the deficit, airport security, Afghanistan and the length, cost and death toll of the Iraq occupation."
On September 12, 2003, Paul Krugman made an interesting observation in his column ("Exploiting The Atrocity") on page A27 of The New York Times: "Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals - involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence - that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost."
Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
Our theme this week is "leaches who try to make money abusing the intellectual property rights of others." As has frequently been the case, our Usual Suspects are the RIAA and SCO. SCO is trying to claim rights to the work of thousands of Linux developers, RIAA (and its member companies) use abusive contracts to extort rights from musicians then uses them and the DMCA to prop up its obsolete business model.
RIAA: the music barons made news this week by suing 261 file sharers, from12-year-olds to 71-year-olds. What kind of an idiot would think suing your audience will turn them into loyal customers? In offering to pay the young girl's $2000 settlement, the executive director of P2P United said: "We do not condone copyright infringement, but someone has to draw the line to call attention to a system that permits multinational corporations with phenomenal financial and political resources to strong-arm 12-year-olds and their families in public housing the way this sorry episode dramatizes." As mentioned here last week, the RIAA has also engaged in a malevolent deception by offering a ludicrous "amnesty" for file traders. Beyond ludicrous, a a lawsuit was filed attacking its legality. The EFF responded to RIAA's "amnesty" and suggested alternatives to their lawsuits. The upside of the RIAA's self-defeating strategy is that Congress is starting to realize that the 1998 DMCA was a very, very bad law.
SCO: is the sleazy kind of software company that has more lawyers than programmers on its staff. They made a goofy offer to "negotiate" their baseless claims of copyright infringement by Linux. Open source luminaries Eric S. Raymond and Bruce Perens drafted agreat response to SCO and Linus Torvalds (the "Linu" in Linux) wrote another response. Raymond is also marshaling the evidence against SCO. ACM Queue this month has a special issue on Open Source.
Apple v. Apple: from the "you'd think they'd have settled this before the iPod" department, the decedent of the Beatle's oldApple Records is suing Apple Computer for violating an agreement that allowed the (newer) computer company to use the name so long as it did not enter the music market. Oops.
Technobits:Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content --- more on fuel cells --- supersonic flight with less boom./
The Top 16 Rejected McDonald's Slogans
I'm back--at No. 2!
September 11, 2003
NOTE FROM CHRIS:
Fast-food goliath McDonald's has chosen a new slogan -- "I'm lovin' it." The slogan is part of a new marketing strategy that will include TV spots with vocals by Justin Timberlake. The U.S. launch is scheduled for September 29.
Since they chose such a lame slogan, don't you wonder about the ones they rejected? We did....
16> Tastes Just Like Real Food!
15> We Love to See You Waddle
14> Screw Jenny Craig
13> We Are Legally Obliged to Tell You That Grimace Is a Convicted Sex Offender
12> America, Your Weight Is Over!
11> Same Crap, Same Prices -- Just Keep Buyin' It, Tubby
10> Two All-Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions, Britney's an Insatiable Screaming Nymphomaniac Who Barks Uncontrollably When She Gets It Doggy Style
9> Open Wide, You Lemmings
8> Wipe Your Chins, McLardbutt
7> Go Ahead and Sue Us, Tubby -- Your Bad Eating Habits Put Seven of Ray Kroc's 19 Grandkids Through Law School at Harvard
6> Spill a Coffee and WIN!
5> Relax, PETA -- That Ain't Really Chicken
4> Super-Sizing Americans Since 1954
3> You Don't Want to Waste Away Like That Subway Guy, Do You?
2> You Deserve a Wake Today
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Rejected McDonald's Slogan...
1> I'm Shovelin' It
[ The Top 5 Listwww.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]
Selected from 141 submissions from 49 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Brad Osberg, Calgary, Canada -- 1, 5 (13th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 2
The Top 16 Surprises in the Arnold Oui Interview
Twice in one week--I'm back in the saddle again!
September 12, 2003
NOTE FROM CHRIS:
An interview that bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger gave to Playboy's Oui magazine back in 1977 has come back to haunt politician Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the interview, Arnold admits to participating in group sex and to smoking pot and hashish.
Here's the link:http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/arnoldoui1.html
However, we know that our subscribers are busy people and won't have time to read the whole thing, so we put together a Cliff Notes version for you....
16> Tried steroids once, but didn't inhale.
15> He adopted his accent because his real voice sounds like Jerry Lewis' in "The Nutty Professor."
14> "I'm hoping dat bodybuilding will open some doors for me in de exciting field of computer electronics."
13> He was Arnie, the unintelligible Mousketeer.
12> Lou Ferrigno is ticklish.
11> Arnold's bodybuilding secret: Alternate Lambada with Macarena.
10> Likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.
9> His confusing the word "bicep" with "bisexual" often lead to some wacky hijinks.
8> "Dis one time, at weight camp...."
7> Back then, he was known around the gym as "Onan the Masturbarian."
6> Who'd have thought? Weightlifting can actually pave the way to occasional heterosexual encounters.
5> He can play Austrian folk songs by rubbing his buttocks together.
4> Once invaded the Sudetenland all by himself.
3> Misread studio signs and spent six days working in a movie called "Pumping Ron."
2> "Just for da record: Dat wasn't a ham sandwich Mama Cass choked on."
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Surprise in the Arnold Oui Interview...
1> "Drug use, heavy drinking, womanizing -- dey should make me an honorary Kennedy!"
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]
Selected from 120 submissions from 46 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA -- 1 (28th #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 11
You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database
Dalton and the Rich List, the Grobstein File
Richard Dalton found the Global Rich List. See where you stand!
Dan Grobstein File:
New York Times:
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