PS... A Column

on Things

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.


To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

January 17, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

January 17, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 2

Table of Contents:

General News

  • More on Europe
  • A Three-Day Weekend
  • Marlow in the Netherlands
  • Disaster Perspective
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • The Top 16 Holiday Songs for People Who Hate the Holidays

Movies

  • Three Dot Summary
  • Bill Murray: Genius
  • Guest Review: Best Music of the Year
  • Guest Review: In Good Company
  • Guest Review: Million Dollar Baby
  • Guest Review: Badddassss

Letters

  • Family Guy, Dern, Malchman, Vitale, Dan Grobstein File

General News

More on Europe

I think I hinted--in fact, I downright promised--that there would be more postings on our recent two-week family trip to Europe (for Rae it was a three-week trip). As it happens, I was counting on Rae and Marlow to concentrate on the aspects of the trip they found most interesting and ship me some email. They didn't. For now, suffice it to say we had a great time, loved France, The Netherlands and Spain and are now planning/hoping to return to France for a week or two this summer, preferably while Rae is enrolled in a summer French-language program there.

Speaking of which, Rae left for school again this week. And it hurt again, as it hurts every time. I'll try not to whine.

A Three-Day Weekend

My attitude towards my job is much improved this year; I would go so far as to say I love it. Which doesn't mean I don't still appreciate a three-day weekend. Like this one, for Martin Luther King's birthday, or next week, when teachers get Monday off for professional development (and a short day Friday to complete our first-term grades). I don't know anyone who doesn't like a little extra time off, no matter how they feel about their job.

Marlow in The Netherlands

Marlow is in The Netherlands right now, at Leiden University, working on her degree in International Relations. Here's what's new from her: nada this week.

Disaster Perspective

Disaster perspective from Richard Dalton:

We've all been bludgeoned by news coverage of the tsunami disaster. It got me thinking about other on-going world calamities.

Democratic Republic of the Congo - 3.8 million dead in the last 6 years; estimated 31,000 deaths continue to occur each month

Darfur - at least 70,000 dead; 1.6 million forced from homes

Southeast Asian Tsunami - 160,000 dead; 500,000 injured; 5 million displaced

Iraqi civilian deaths- at least 15,000 to date

AIDs deaths (worldwide) - 3.1 million (2004); 39.4 million HIV/AIDS infected

The conclusion? That we all need to put the 2,800-3,000 US deaths during the 9/11 tragedy into a more realistic perspective.

It goes without saying that 9/11 was a tragedy, a senseless and cruel taking of innocent civilian life in clear contravention of the teachings of the Koran and Islam. It also goes without saying that Americans have perspective problems when it comes to world disasters.

Political Notes

I am incandescent over late developments in the 2004 election. My hat is off to Sen. Barbara Boxer, the only one of the 100 folks in the world's most exclusive club who was willing to speak truth to power about the Ohio vote--delaying the inevitable theft of the presidency by several hours.

I know some of the people working to overturn this egregious election theft, and although they have lost their court cases and been shut out of the national media (including C-SPAN which took a dive for the powers that be and didn't cover the news conference challenging the Ohio results), they are still there and still trying. God bless them.

I summarized this article for a friend, who called it an utter load of codswallop, except that he used harsher terms:

San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, January 7, 2005
NEWS ANALYSIS
Challenge over Ohio vote forecasts contentiousness of 109th Congress

Marc Sandalow, Washington Bureau Chief

...The specter of challenging a presidential election -- one in which the Democrat conceded 65 days ago -- is so daunting to most members of Congress, that Boxer came under pressure from some colleagues in her own party to forgo the objection. In the absence of hard evidence of vote fraud, some worried about the precedent it might set, fearing that in the future if a Democratic president where elected, a Republican-controlled Congress might object not just for symbolic reasons but in a genuine effort to overturn an election.

The issue we discussed? Did Boxer make a mistake? His response, "Do you think the Republicans are playing? They are not. They will steal the next election they can by throwing it into a Republican house, regardless of what Boxer did or didn't do." I personally will take to the streets if that happens.

By the way, Rep. Candace Miller of Michigan is a big fat liar. Randi Rhodes of Air America first brought this to my attention by playing a clip of the esteemed congresswoman. (If you aren't listening to Air America yet, why not? Al Franken and Randi Rhodes are fast becoming my best friends).

Miller did not make a mistake. This is not a misstatement. It is a flat-out lie, spoken with malice, ignorance or both to poison the well of public opinion with falsity. I have read the papers filed in Ohio. Nowhere, and I repeat, NOWHERE in the papers filed to protest the Ohio election theft did anyone do what Ms. Liar suggests they did: she claims that in the brief filed by Democrats, one accusation includes allegations of Karl Rove managing computer vote totals from the White House.

The protest is not a bunch of cranks. It is the only honest work being done in connection with the election.

Here is the statement of the legal team when their case was thrown out. You won't read this anywhere else:

Contestors remain dedicated to the task of finding an alternate legal forum in which they may seek redress for the severe damage done (on what appears to have been a generally racially discriminatory basis) to their constitutional and statutory rights before, during, and after the election held on November 2, 2004. Contestors also remain dedicated to the goal of insuring through the legal system that in the future no other group of people (or indeed any individual voter) is deprived of the fundamental and basic right (upon which rests the legitimacy and durability of our government) to elect our leaders freely and fairly in an election in which all votes are counted honestly. While certain persons whose depositions were properly noticed to occur in the contest of the certification of the Presidential election failed to appear for their depositions and thus failed to provide the legal process with the information they had relevant to this matter (notably named contestees J. Kenneth Blackwell, Karl C. Rove, Richard B. Cheney, and George W. Bush), contestors look forward to the day when they will choose to provide the information available to them in an appropriate legal setting.

Contestors wish to thank all of the people in the United States and around the world (from the Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Romania, Poland, South Africa and many other nations) who supported and continue to support the effort to assure the legitimacy of national and state elections in the United States which elections have always served (and contestors hope will always serve) as a standard of fairness for the entire world.

***

Richard Dalton forwarded this to me:

Hold Condoleeza Rice accountable!

Dear Friend,

Senator Barbara Boxer intends to ask Condoleeza Rice some tough questions at her Senate confirmation hearing in the coming days -- questions the American people deserve to have answered:

* Why did the United States go to war in Iraq based on misleading -- if not false and fraudulent -- evidence?

* Why did we divert valuable resources and intelligence personnel to Iraq, taking them away from Afghanistan and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden?

* Why did Dr. Rice mislead the American people into thinking there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida before September 11th?

If you agree that we must hold Condoleeza Rice accountable for her decisions, I urge you to stand with Senator Boxer, myself, and millions of Americans.

Sign Senator Boxer's petition at the link below, so she can take your voice with her to the committee room and the floor of the Senate in the pursuit of the truth from Condoleeza Rice.

***

Is America Stingy?

From the New York Times

"...We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities."

That sounds about right for GOP priorities.

***

Here's a scary thought about our new Attorney General: Alberto Gonzales was asked directly at his confirmation hearings whether he believes it within the President's power to detain any American citizen domestically in the US. That is, can anyone who is deemed by the President without any prior hearing or due process an "enemy combatant" be held for an indefinite period of time? Can they be held without counsel, without access to or communication with family? Gonzales replied that he believed that the Supreme Court already gave the President that Power and he would honor the Supreme Court. (I believe he said the Hamdi case) The Senator then noted that this case involved someone who was a US citizen who was picked up overseas actually engaged in combat in a place we were in armed conflict. The senator was asking about someone deemed an "enemy combatant" who was a US citizen, in the US- whether the President could detain a domestically residing US citizen under his definition of "enemy combatant" - Gonzales' answer was frightening. He said essentially he didn't believe that the Supreme Court made the distinction concerning where the person was or to what degree he was engaged in combat. This is the foundation and the groundwork for something we have never seen before in this country. Bush is not restrained from doing anything he wants in a second term.

***

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Postcards from Titan: as I write this Friday evening, the first three pictures from Saturn's moon Titan are only a few hours old. One shows what appears to be "rivers" and "seas"! Will Titan retain its reputation of being the second most likely place to harbor life in the solar system? NASA's Cassini mission carried ESA's Huygens probe to just off Titan. Huygens separated and began its intricate landing procedure. It all went flawlessly. Incredible.

Open Source versus closed minds: in case there was any doubt that Bill Gates is an idiot, he pretty much cleared it up this week. He demonstrated that he understands neither open source software nor Communism by equating the two (see also the original interview and Gate's incoherent backpedaling).

[to call it incoherent is generous. Classic Gates.--editor] Then noted pinko front organization IBM effectively gave 500 patents to the open source community, leading Groklaw to suggest "the Windows patent strategy is...over." Elsewhere in the open source world, the Mozilla foundation continues to thrust into Microsoft's desktop heartland by offering, free, modern and secure alternatives to Window's decrepitude: Group aims to capitalize on Firefox success.

Technobits: blue LED inventor gets $8.1 million --- cool infographic: Apple's Tipping Point: Macs For The Masses --- retro-computing: emulators on cell phones --- Downhill Battle wages uphill fight vs. music industry --- LokiTorrent fights MPAA legal attack --- Half-Life 2: Test bed for Internet licensing techniques --- Will Blizzard Destroy the Future of Videogames? --- Internet 'can tackle film piracy' --- iceberg B-15A vs. Drygalski Ice Tongue --- Iapetus walnut.

Humor

The Top 16 Holiday Songs for People Who Hate the Holidays

You know, you can't win if you don't play, and it has been weeks since I submitted to Top 5, so it is going to be a while before I make the list again. Sigh. Three-way tie for 6th with two Hall of Famers. I thought of it because my band plays the song ever Christmas.

December 27, 2004

16> Jingle Bell Crock

15> Soylent Night

14> Away With a Stranger -- Preferably in a Hot Tub

13> Wheeze, Ye Bing

12> Dad Shot Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

11> Oy to the World

10> Shock the Herald Angels -- BZZZING!

9> Blecch, the Malls

8> All I Want for Christmas (Is to Break Some Teeth)

7> I Got Towed, I Got Towed, I Got Towed

6> Slay Ride!

5> Rest In Peace, Ye Merry Gentlemen

4> O Letter Bomb

3> Rudolph the Fresh-Made Venison

2> Prosty the Ho-Man

and Topfive.com's Number 1 Holiday Song for People Who Hate the Holidays...

1> Grandma got Hungover on Champagne, Dear

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
=========================
Selected from 102 submissions from 32 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Brad Simanek, Cedar Rapids, IA -- 1, 10 (28th #1)
Peter Bauer, Rochester, NY -- 6, 11 (Hall of Famer)
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- 6 (Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 6

Movies

Three Dot Summary

Daniel Dern saw Neverland and like it. I hope to see it before it disappears... Three NPR shows ran features on the French film The Chorus, a monster hit there; keep an eye out for it...

Bill Murray: Genius

From Jonathan Alter's blog on Jan. 5:

I read a bit of Time's profile of Bill Murray, (subscription only) in the emergency room yesterday. Clearly it was meant to be a cover story, but got Tsuami'd off. I had no strong feelings about it one way or the other, except that it badly skimped on both the greatness and the influence of "Groundhog Day," for which, I think, one can make a strong case as the funniest of all modern movies. Other strong contenders would be: "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"; "Diner," and "Annie Hall." The funniest old move I can think of is "His Gal Friday," though I won't argue with people who insist on "A Night at the Opera." Anyway, for a really interesting perspective on "Groundhog Day," including the sad news that it ended the close Murray/Ramis friendship and partnership, read Tad Friend's terrific profile of Ramis. Get your fill of Groundhog Day, The Movie from my fan site.

Guest Review: Best Music Of The Year

The following are my favorites albums and songs of 2004 (in alphabetic order); an eclectic group, to say the least:

CDs

Performer

Record Title

A Girl Called Eddy

A Girl Called Eddy

Arcade Fire

Funeral

Brian Wilson

SMiLE

Butterfly Boucher

Flutterby

Dwight Twilley

Walkin' on Water (EP)

Elbow

Cast of Thousands

Elliott Smith

From a Basement on the Hill

Gomez

Split the Difference

Graham Parker

Your Country

Jem

Finally Woken

Joseph Arthur

Our Shadows Will Remain

k.d. lang

Hymns of the 49th Parallel

Madeleine Peyroux

Careless Love

Magnetic Fields

i

Modest Mouse

Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Preston School
of Industry

Monsoon

Ron Sexsmith

Retriever

TV on the Radio

Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes

Tweaker

2 A.M. Wakeup Call

Wilco

A Ghost Is Born

Songs

Performer

Record Title

Air

Surfin' on a Rocket

Andy Partridge

I Wonder Why the Wonderfalls

Elvis Costello

Monkey to Man

Franz Ferdinand

Take Me Out

Keane

Somewhere Only We Know

Loretta Lynn

Have Mercy

Los Lobos

Uncomplicated

Marc Broussard

Home

Secret Machines

First Wave Intact

Steve Earle

The Revolution Starts Now

The Hives

Walk Idiot Walk

U2

All Because of You

U2

Vertigo

--Neal Vitale

 

Guest Review: In Good Company

Paul and Chris Weitz, the team behind About a Boy - as well as American Pie - are back with a warm and entertaining effort. Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) is an over-50 magazine advertising sales executive who finds himself suddenly working for 26-year-old wunderkind Carter Duryea (Topher Grace of "That 70s Show") when his company is acquired. Complicating the situation is when Foreman's college-age daughter Alex (unremarkably played by Scarlett Johansson) has a brief fling with Duryea. The script offers plenty of opportunities for the film to go astray, but deft direction, a clever soundtrack (featuring the likes of David Byrne, Iron & Wine, and Soundtrack of Our Lives), and winning performances by Quaid and Grace make In Good Company a charming success.

--Neal Vitale

Guest Review: Million Dollar Baby

Clint Eastwood's latest is an odds-on Oscar nominee for Best Picture, and is an excellent film - almost. For much of its two hours plus running time, Million Dollar Baby is a fairly conventional boxing film, built around a core of three fine actors giving strong performances, with a twist that the op-and-coming fighter is female. Eastwood is the hard-boiled but emotionally-damaged veteran coach/manager, Morgan Freeman is his old friend and gym boss, and Hilary Swank is a white trash wannabee. For me, the film move along splendidly - though I do think that Eastwood's direction shows the same slight tendency to oversimplification that it did in Mystic River - until it goes badly awry near the end. A scene of Swank reuniting with her family is almost cartoonish in its characterizations, and the resolving sequence of Million Dollar Baby is unbelievable and preposterous. While this film is still eminently worth watching, it is sad to see what could have been great slip and wind up only good.

--Neal Vitale

Guest Review: Baadasssss!

In video stores:

Mario Van Peebles' tribute to his father Melvin and the making of his 1971 X-rated ("by an all-white jury") film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song should not be missed. Sweet Sweetback was a revolutionary work, changing the way films portrayed blacks, pushing the boundaries of what sexual activity could be portrayed on screen, and redefining independent film production. That film launched the blaxploitation genre (Shaft, Superfly) as well as giving the soundtrack band - Earth Wind & Fire - its first break. Baadasssss! is an entertaining portrayal of the late 60s/early 70s era, and does a wonderful job telling a tight, well-paced story of how Van Peebles was motivated to make Sweet Sweetback and what he had to confront and overcome to do so. A nice added touch is a series of interviews with the actual individuals involved in the original production that runs behind the closing credits.

--Neal Vitale

Letters

Family Guy, Dern, Malchman, Vitale, Dan Grobstein File

One of the best TV shows ever, Family Guy, is coming back, and the creators also have a new show, American Dad. There are 13 NEW episodes of Family Guy in production. God Bless Fox! See also Planet Family Guy.

Lyrics to Tom Lehrer's That's Mathematics. Thank you Daniel Dern. Also: a dictionary in which the definitions are limericks. The late Isaac Asimov would be proud.

Robert Malchman forwards a link mocking people who buy Apple products.

Neal Vitale found this in The Onion: MIT Researchers Discover Each Other

As we prepare for healthcare reform, remember: Patients are not the problem according to USA Today.

Dan Grobstein File

New York Times

  • Paul Krugman points out that Social Security privatization failed in England.
  • Frank Rich chronicles your tax dollars at work paying right-wing shills posing as journalists.

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