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 24 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

January 24, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 3

Table of Contents:

General News

  • A Thought For Teachers, And Others
  • Full Text Search
  • Marlow in the Netherlands
  • Divorce Party? Help A Freelancer
  • Is It A Stroke?
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • None

Movies

  • Aviator

Letters

  • Dossiers, Sound Effects, Dan Grobstein File

General News

A Thought For Teachers, And Others

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. --Maya Angelou

The other day it was finals at CHigh School, which means last year's freshmen get out early enough to come over to JM, where I teach. One of the girls smiled at me and told me a long elaborate story about how good I made her feel on the first day. She looked deep into my eyes and said, "You don't remember, do you." Well, no I don't. I mostly remember spending the year at cross-purposes with her. But she remembers that first day, and, I suspect 20 years from now, when the tumult has faded, the good feeling will remain.

Much the same thing happened to me with NM, a friend from college days who looked me up when we were both adults because I worked for Information Systems News and he worked for a computer vendor. He told me a long elaborate story about how nice I was to him the first day he showed up at the main MIT newspaper, The Tech. Again, hard to remember. I was nice to everyone who showed up at the newspaper--in reaction, in part, to the snarky way I was treated on my first day, when MF was cruel enough to drive me to a competitive newspaper for six months.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that I try to be as nice as I can to everyone, every day, because I believe Maya Angelou is right. As my master teacher once said, "What are you trying to do with the grade you put on their work?" Sometimes it is communications--assessing their work, letting them know if they meet or exceed expectations. But ask yourself, do you want them to feel bad, or to learn and try harder. I hear her voice in my head (and that of my mother the ex-teacher) every time I grade a paper. It makes it more complicated, but ultimately more satisfying, and it helps me understand what to do with papers, tests and students that are on the bubble.

Full Text Search

If you scroll down to the bottom, you will discover a full-text search box has been added to this site! It is called Picosearch, and so far it seems to be really cool. Comments are welcome. Yes, I know it indexes the links at the bottom of the column over and over. I am working on that.

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: nothing she wants to talk about.

Divorce Party? Help A Freelancer

A friend of mine is trying to find out whether some people actually celebrate their divorces with a party. It's for a freelance story, and if you had such a party or know somebody who has and wouldn't mind talking about it let me know and I'll put you in touch.

Is It a Stroke?

My sister-in-law Pamela sent this to me. Truth or Fiction.com says these tests are true, as does the American Stroke Association, although, of course, being a bunch of doctors they advise "don't try this at home kids," sort of.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

    • Ask the individual to smile.
    • Ask him or her to raise both arms.
    • Ask the person to speak a simple sentence.

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis an d treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved. Tell as many people as possible about this. It could save their lives!

I have also heard that if you can get to a hospital within three hours much of the damage can be reversed - so time is a big issue.

Political Notes

The politics of personal destruction marches on, wielded by America's right wing [goaded on by the "president"] in heedless disregard of the truth, merely to demonize anyone or any organization that stands in their path. The latest? The ACLU never objected to Marines praying, no matter what the nasty email that's going around says. Urban Legend Reference Pages says it's false, and knocks down a previous lying email as well. The ACLU never had a spokesman with that name [you'd think people who make up lies would go to the trouble of using real names--but that anyone who would make up a lie this big is too stupid to be clever]. Truth or Fiction.com also blasts this perfidy. If we could dust email for fingerprints, whose would we find? Karl Rove, or just someone who works with or admires him? And that isn't the pot calling the kettle black. That's an honest acknowledgement of Rove's time-tested technique of using false, malicious, nasty rumors to destroy his opponents--whom he doesn't consider opponents, but rather enemies.

***

ABC tried to deal with the stolen election on Nightline on Jan. 19--I say tried, because they fell into the trap of marginalizing the people who are trying to discover the truth about Ohio's presidential election and prevent future naked discrimination and widespread denial of the right to vote. "Conspiracy theorists" and "diehards" aren't the only people who believe Ohio was stolen. And don't tell me about West Virginia in 1960 or Chicago in the Presidential election. Is "the other guys did it" an excuse, an exculpation? Hey, Ruthefraud B. Hayes stole the 1876 election from Samuel Tilden. Does that mean we have to sit back and do nothing?

Why is a disagreement between exit polls and reported results sufficient to overturn an election in the Ukraine and not in the US? The results in Ohio were more than two standard deviations off--meaning less than a five percent chance that the reported results are accurate. I don't care if Warren Mitofsky says he was wrong. He has his client base to worry about. The rest of us have to worry about Democracy. In the famous word of Nixon's press agent, Watergate was a "third-rate burglary." The 2004 election loss was NOT a third rate burglary. It was a first-rate burglary. If thinking that makes me a diehard, then I'm a proud diehard.

***

I was listening to NPR on Inauguration Day. I tuned in after the speech; I am too sensitive to listen to that many lies in that short a period of time, no matter how eloquently expressed. The "president"'s first inaugural was eloquent too, and look how well he fulfilled those promises.

Anyway, they cut to someone in the protest area who said it was "a decidedly left wing crowd." He described people in favor of the government of Cuba, and opposing the occupation of Palestine. Just another attempt to marginalize protests against a stolen election. When the right demonstrates, does the NPR reporter mention the demonstratorrs waving the bloody fetus, either literally or in pictures?

I love NPR. I listen all the time. It is a great news organization. But it is based in Washington, and, as such, is subject to the same groupthink as all other East Coast media in Boswash. They all read the Times and the Post and watch Nightline and Meet the Press. For all these august organs, suggesting the emperor has no clothes is impolite and may lead to reduced access. Hey, gang, the emperor is naked, and he is swinging his in a provocative way. Unless you want to watch a procession of naked emperors driving down Pennsylvania Avenue for the next 30 or so years, wake up and report on the coffee.

***

This from Bobbi Fox: The Daily Kos diarist known as "nightsweat" posted new lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer in response to the hearings on Condi Rice's nomination to figurehead of state.

***

In case you are interested in this: http://www.thereisnocrisis.com/ cites an MSNBC blog: "The battle lines over Social Security aren't officially drawn until someone registers a snappy URL..."

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Hurrah for Huygens: this week of Titan revelations has been great fun for planetary astronomy buffs and science fiction fans. (I'm both.) The notion of rivers and seas on Titian has gone from wild speculation to accepted fact in a few days. In fact Titian seems to be such a soggy place that the Huygens probe apparently ended it interplanetary journey by plopping into a patch of mud! I suspect is a first for space exploration from Earth, all previous probes have either landed or splashed down into water. It appears to be a bit of good luck that Huygens found "solid" ground rather than dropping into one of the many "seas" of what is thought to be liquid methane (aka LNG: liquefied natural gas). As such Titan appears to be a very flammable moon but for the lack of oxygen. Boing Boing notes that Time covered this landing back in 1952.

Meanwhile, on Mars: what is the chance of THAT?! Imagine if there were only two people on Earth, how likely is it that in a year's wandering one of the two would stumble across a basketball-sized meteorite? How many have you found during your lifetime? Yet amazingly the Mars Opportunity Rover Finds a Meteorite and its a monster. Either this is more surprising than winning the lottery each week for a year, or it is evidence of a plenitude of such objects, suggesting a strong role for wind-blown sand in shaping the Martian surface.

Technobits: for Martin Luther King Day, the Globe and Mail explains how our out-of-balance copyright laws prevent us from seeing the acclaimed documentary Eyes on the Prize: How copyright could be killing culture --- blogging companies moving up the food chain: first Six Apart acquired LiveJournal, now will Yahoo! acquire Six Apart? --- SCO Wins Legal Round Against IBM Over Linux Code --- Think Secret gets a lawyer for Apple lawsuit --- Open-Source Biology Evolves --- statistical artificial intelligence to pick hit songs --- Roboshark --- why aren't we up to our keister in ETs?.

Humor

None

Movies

Aviator

Vicki and I saw The Aviator. It is first class work. It is going to sweep everything, and deserves to. It is too long, of course, but still a great film.

Letters

Dossiers, Sound Effects, Dan Grobstein File

Why is American Airlines gathering written dossiers on fliers' friends? A good question, I think.

If you love movies as I do, you'll enjoy finding out how to make your own foley sound effects, spotted by Bobbi Fox.

Dan Grobstein File

New York Times

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