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.


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Tales of Teaching 2005

April 11, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

April 11, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 14

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Gradual Mastery
  • Amma's Coming
  • AIDS Ride
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • None

Movies

  • The Upside of Anger

Letters

  • "Morty" Passes, The End Of News, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Gradual Mastery

Quietly, incrementally, on a day by day basis, you gradually get better at something--say teaching--until you wake up one day and realize you've passed from panicked into competent. It's a rather nice feeling. Speaking of waking up, thanks to Daylight Savings Time my body thinks it is waking up at 6:15 when it is really 7:15. Is that cool or what? Sleeping in! First time since I started teaching!

Amma's Coming

My wife has been a devotee of Amma, "the hugging saint," an Indian guru, for about 10 years. She regularly goes on the weekend retreat in San Ramon when Amma does her semi-annual US tour. Amma's summer tour includes Seattle, San Ramon, CA, Santa Fe, Dallas, Iowa, Chicago, Washington, New York, Boston and Toronto. Some people follow her for the whole tour. I find it exhausting just to volunteer in San Ramon--which I did more before I had a job.

AIDS Ride

Eight years ago, Richard Dalton and I rode from SF to LA to raise money for AIDs research. We shared a tent every night, and raised more than $5,000. He wrote to me about that shared experience last week

The minister at my former SF church (and a good friend) is participating in this year's Ride and his e-mail caused me to dig out the 1997 scrapbook and recount some of the wonderful people and experiences from our SF to LA journey.

John's e-mail included some information about the current AIDs picture:

"AIDS Worldwide: 14,000 newly infected & 8,500 die daily (equal to the recent tsunami every 21 days) - in '04, 3.1 million AIDS-caused deaths & 39.4 million living with HIV. 12 million orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa & 18 million more expected in next 5 years."

Those are horrifying numbers. And I'm ashamed that I have placed the AIDS pandemic in such a distant part of my awareness.

Events like the AIDS Ride won't bring an end to AIDS/HIV. But in addition to the $100s of millions these rides have raised for direct support and education, they focus public attention on this scourge. That's badly needed in a political environment that is often disdainful of AIDS sufferers and the public policies needed to have an impact on the disease.

Political Notes

I know I'm not the only one to notice this, but I still feel it needs to be said, over and over. Isn't the process of personal destruction that Tom Delay is whining about exactly the same one the GOP imposed on former house speaker Jim Wright, for almost exactly the same infractions? It is. And Delay deserves Wright's fate. I defy anyone to draw a meaningful distinction between the situation of Wright then and Delay now.

***

We intervened in Ukraine because the exit polls didn't match the election results. What about when results don't match in the United States? Some in the United States advocate invading other nations without U.N. Security Council authorization to restore democracy. Does a second undemocratic national election in a row in the United States raise a critical national security issue? Does allowing this situation to continue generally unrecognized, unacknowledged, uncorrected, and unrevealed domestically leave the United States open to an invasion by Ukraine to restore democracy in the United States? When Yurchenko visited recently, why did no member of the docile and wholly co-opted White House Press Corps ask what Yurchenko intended to do to restore democracy in Ohio and Florida?

***

Briefs

  • Worst President Ever (based on poll results).
  • The cost of Bush's Lie About Social Security To Hand-Picked Audiences Tour.
  • Fake Rumors of Memo's Fakeness. The right-wing blogosphere was full of hints and outright assertions that the Schiavo talking points memo was a Democratic trick. Now that the Washington Post has revealed it came from the office of Sen. Mel Martinez R-Fla., I look forward to their retractions. Said retractions will, I am sure, be accompanied by a sky full of pigs playing trombones and reservations for all at the Hades skating pond. Here's the single most grudging and ungracious rollback in all of journalism history.
  • Check out Ian Masters' Background Briefing, a breath of progressive fresh air from the Pacifica stations.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Pod people: Reuters reports on the phenomenal uptake rate of "podcasting" (using MP3 players to time-shift prerecorded radio-style shows): "That means more than 6 million people are listening to a form of communication that emerged only last year" according to the report (PDF) from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. There was even a little controversy about the numbers. Apple recently announced a nifty $30 gadget that lets you use your iPod to backup your digital camera (more).

Google maps with satellite imagery: as I have previously gushed, Google Maps is a great service with lovely map graphics [ed. note: also reported by Kevin Sullivan] which exhibits amazing technical virtuosity. They recently turned it up another notch by integrating satellite imagery from Keyhole, now owned by Google. For example here is a nice picture of the area near my office. This all gave me a sense of déjà vu which sent me digging through the Internet Archive for this May 2002 Technobriefs item (3rd from bottom) about a similar service then being offered by MapQuest.

Online media: search and collections: Google announced that it would expand it existing video search (mentioned here in January) to include non-broadcast video. If you are looking for free content to use, or a place to offer your content for use, look at sites like Ourmedia and Flickr. See this excellent survey of such resources. A look at "tagging" media, the key to the usefulness of sites like Flickr: Picking Up Where Search Leaves Off.

Technobits: update on Negroponte's $100 computer --- Next Big Tech Ideas May Be Small Ones --- Black holes 'do not exist' a reinterpretation of the data suggests they may actually be "dark-energy stars" --- threats posed by moon dust --- Shape-Shifting Robot Nanotech Swarms on Mars --- Robot translators decipher mountains of enemy messages --- Dabblers and Blowhards --- YaGoohoo!gle: split screen search results---Exploring the Right to Share, Mix and Burn.

Humor

None

Movies

The Upside of Anger

Again, with a movie for adults featuring adults. What, is Hollywood losing its mind? Oh wait, it is April, the tail end of Hollywood's famed "Elephant's Graveyard," that period between January and May where decent films that baffle the marketing departments are sent to die. Really, Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, or both of them deserve a nod for this film, but they won't get one because people only rarely earn Oscars for films that play in April. It's the story of a broken down woman and a broken down man who get together and find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. There are a couple of moments when you know exactly what is coming next, but they are outnumbered by the scenes where you don't. It also deals with the pain and trauma of parenthood. Wow, adult things in the traditional, non-porn sense of adult. I am just blown away. You will be too. A great film.

Letters

"Morty" Passes, The End Of News, Dan Grobstein File

The actor who played Morty Seinfeld has died, and Marjorie Wolfe has eulogized him.

Every journalist in America should be scared to death by this: Carnegie Reporter, Vol. 3, No. 2 | Abandoning the News

Dan Grobstein File

New York Times

  • OPINION | April 5, 2005
    Op-Ed Columnist: An Academic Question
    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    There are so few Republican university professors because the party tends to favor revelation over research.

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