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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August 8, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

August 8, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 31

Table of Contents:

General News

  • A Great Idea
  • UGI Reunion
  • Marlow in China
  • Rae in France
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • The Top 17 New Endings to the Phrase "It's all fun and games until...."

Movies

  • Sky High

Letters

  • Peterman quotations, Coquet quotation, Dern on (not with ) bad fiction, Hanzel on Shuttle coverage, Dan Grobstein File

General News

A Great Idea

I am not sure what Marlow does. Rae has an entry called "me." But wouldn't it be nice if we could all agree on what to call that entry? This came from Katherine Gray:

A great idea for emergencies:

A campaign encouraging people to enter an emergency contact number in their mobile phone's memory under the heading "ICE" (for "In Case of Emergency"), has rapidly spread throughout the world as a particular consequence of the terrorist attacks in London. Originally established as a nation-wide campaign in the UK, ICE allows paramedics or police to be able to contact a designated relative / next-of-kin in an emergency situation.

The idea is the brainchild of East Anglian Ambulance Service paramedic Bob Brotchie and was launched in May this year. Bob, 41, who has been a paramedic for 13 years, said: "I was reflecting on some of the calls I've attended at the roadside where I had to look through the mobile phone contacts struggling for information on a shocked or injured person. Almost everyone carries a mobile phone now, and with ICE we'd know immediately who to contact and what number to ring. The person may even know of
their medical history."

By adopting the ICE advice, your mobile will help the rescue services quickly contact a friend or relative - which could be vital in a life or death situation. It only takes a few seconds to do, and it could easily help save your life.

Why not put ICE in your phone now?

Simply select a new contact in your phone book, enter the word 'ICE' and
the number of the person you wish to be contacted. For more than one contact name them: ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.

UGI Reunion

I spent the weekend in Chicago, which is why this column is late. It was the sort-of 30th reunion of most of the self-styled Usual Gang of Idiots (the term with which Mad Magazine once referred to its contributors) from my days at The Tech, the most important institution in my life. But as I must be at the DMV in a half hour to obtain a driver's license renewal, I must delay my report until next week.

Marlow in China

Marlow is in Shanghai this summer, working and working on her Chinese. She's fine, her weekend trip was cancelled because of a typhoon, so she watched the second season of the West Wing. Like father like daughter. Anyone know a good internship in China?

Rae in France

Rae is in Montpellier, France working on her French.

There has been a bizarre occurrence in the last couple weeks: I have managed to fall in with a French crowd. Paul Valéry's university restaurant is open to all, but if you're a student your meals are heavily subsidized: under three euros for lunch and dinner. It's a great deal, but unfortunately like all of Europe they don't cater to vegetarians, so I don't at all enjoy the food. I do, however, greatly enjoy the company, so it doesn't so much matter that I am stuck with sub-par meals twice a day.

They are very patient, and encourage me to talk, and Yannick (bless his heart)has banned English. I think he understands since he studied for two months in Ireland. English does slip out occasionally, and sometimes I help them with their pronunciation. Emilé (sp?) actually told me she thought that English was prettier than French.

They invited me canoeing yesterday, and I had a fun time translating the American hip-hop songs. "Comprend-tu les paroles?" I delighted in asking. They always understood part of them, and you know how dirty and violent the songs are, so it was really funny trying to translate that into French.

We went canoeing from 10 in the morning 'til 5:30 at night: 26 kilometers whatever that means. It was hard it was long, and today my back and shoulders hurt. I wanted to wear my capris, but at the last minute, everyone convinced me to take them off. I didn't put sunblock on my legs, so my legs are burned like they have never been burned before. I hope I will at least tan as a consolation prize for the skin cancer.

All that said, I really enjoyed myself. Somehow I always do canoeing, even though I can't take the driving position, and I'm not a particularly strong paddler in the front. However, I enjoyed the little stops we made on the way, I enjoyed the 25% of French I could understand. By the end, when I was really talkative (in french), and I didn't mind so much when people couldn't understand and I had to try a different pronunciation or rephrase my statement.

Political Notes

Briefs

  • The woman who objected to being groped by a TSA screener? Unbelievable! Why is this under politics? Because this is what America is coming to...
    Phyllis Dintenfass of Appleton will be back in federal court for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 1. The woman could face up to one year in federal prison and a fine of $100,000.
  • As the post office used to say of mail fraud, if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably isn't. Bush And Cheney Indicted. But, as Bob Nillson notes, you only wish this weren't true: Bush endorses teaching 'intelligent design'
  • Thank you Dan Grobstein for this quote:
    "In the end, it's not that Bush is doing anything different, it's just that the actors holding Clinton in check have quietly crept from the stage. They didn't want to protect the theatre, they just hated the play."

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Cisco versus Internet security: anyone who argues against openness and sunshine in politics or technology ought to be viewed with utmost suspicion. Does a cover up of Cisco's blunders protect the net, or merely Cisco's corporate ass? Cisco Harasses Security Researcher Mike Lynn: "In large part I had to quit to give this presentation because ISS and Cisco would rather the world be at risk, I guess," Lynn said. "They had to do what's right for their shareholders; I understand that. But I figured I needed to do what's right for the country and for the national critical infrastructure." More: Router Flaw Is a Ticking Bomb and Politch subscriber receives takedown lawyergram over Cisco briefing.

Games: diversity and controversy two complementary pieces: Wanted: Minority Game Programmers and Programmers: Video games need female touch. Plus GTA Modder Lashes Out at ESRB and Game biz eyeing record year.

Microsoft and Google Microsoft tracks WiFi for new mapping system (for more on this sort of thing, see When Cell Phones Become Oracles) Did Microsoft Wipe Apple Off the Map? The gang that couldn't shoot straight: Microsoft "Genuine Advantage" cracked in 24h. Take your pick: Virtual Earth and Google Maps, side-by-side. After this CNet story: Google balances privacy, reach Google locked out CNet from any direct contact for one year. (There is a lot of that going on recently: Russia Bars ABC, Citing Interview With Chechen Rebel) Finally: The Birth of Google.

Technobits: Finger points to British intelligence as al-Qaeda websites are wiped out --- email is for old folks --- Marrying Maps to Data for a New Web Service --- New File-Sharing Techniques Are Likely to Test Court Decision --- Co-opting the creative revolution --- new "planet" -- bigger than Pluto? --- Ice lake found on the Red Planet --- Butterfly unlocks evolution secret --- Hybrid drivers can soon drive solo in carpool lanes.

Humor

The Top 17 New Endings to the Phrase "It's all fun and games until...."

Clinging tenaciously to the near-bottom at No. 15...

August 5, 2005

17> ... until the IRS agent auditing you puts on a spelunking helmet.

16> ... until Ted McGinley joins the cast.

15> ... until you actually become governor of California.

14> ... until the pope moves you to a new diocese.

13> ... until the farmer finds you in the goat pen covered in pistachio pudding and humming "Strangers in the Night."

12> ... until you realize your new last name is "Federline."

11> ... until someone starts factoring pi.

10> ... until you hear, "Mr. Nolte, please step out of the car."

9> ... until the chocolate syrup and Cheez Whiz get all crusty around your areolae.

8> ... until you decide to give Robert Novak a scoop.

7> ... until she asks you to wear a vial of Billy Bob Thornton's blood around your neck.

6> ... until you discover "Cinnamon Stixxx" is an undercover cop.

5> ... until one of the kids at the party asks you to put the two halves of his mom back together.

4> ... until you realize he's not THAT Jason Alexander.

3> ... until even Johnny Knoxville tells you you're nuts.

2> ... until she asks if you've ever seen "The Crying Game."

and Topfive.com's Number 1 New Ending to the Phrase "It's all fun and games until...."

1> ... until you realize you shot Ronald Reagan to try to win the affection of a lesbian.

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ] [ Copyright 2005 by Chris White
===================
Selected from 159 submissions from 56 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
-------------------------
Colleen Stelmaszek, Houston, TX -- 1, 7 (10th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 15

Movies

Sky High

The great thing about going to a movie with low expectations is that you can't go anywhere but up when you actually see it. I went to see Sky High because I am a superhero fan, and I thought the conceit was clever; a high school for students with super powers. Kurt Russell is terrific as the self-important father superhero. But gosh, "boy starts out with the losers, is seduced to the in-crowd by a woman with ulterior motives, is saved by the nerds and rejoins them at the end." Wow, where I have seen that trope before? Like a million times? Must be the adolescent fantasy of 70-80% of all screenwriters. I mean, I had a few lousy times and a lot of terrific times in high school (except for my social life, which was just OK), but I'm over it now. And I wouldn't write a script about it unless they paid me a LOT of money.

Well, the nice thing about watching this film is that it was clever, funny and smart, not stupid. I have seen WAY worse out of Hollywood. Not worth a special trip, but if the movie you want is sold out, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Letters

Peterman quotations, Coquet quotation, Dern on (not with ) bad fiction, Hanzel on Shuttle coverage, Dan Grobstein File

Three fine quotes from Kent Peterman:

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
-- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher, mathematician

"I favor the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and it must be enforced at gunpoint if necessary."
-- Ronald Wilson Reagan (b. 1911), 40th US President, Republican

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
-- Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961), American writer

Peggy Coquet checks in with another great quote:

"... (and if Monica Lewinsky could swallow, we'd all be able to keep our shoes on in the airport)."

Rolling Stone Aug. 11, 2005
Pop Life [column] by Rob Sheffield
"A sucky situation"

Daniel Dern passes on, without comment, the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2005 Results, San Jose State's annual celebration of bad writing.

He won't comment, but I will: my favorite:

Inside his cardboard box, Greg heated a dented can of Spaghetti-O's over a small fire made from discarded newspapers, then cracked open his last can of shoplifted generic beer to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his embarkation on a career as a freelance writer.
--Lawrence Person, Austin, TX

My long-time friend John Hanzel contrasts New York Times page one coverage of the shuttle with the stuff in the "jump," the part that appears inside (in this case, on page 3):

On page 1:

"The possibility that a large chunk of insulating foam might break away from a section of the tank called the protuberance air load ramp - PAL for short - never came up. It had been ruled out months earlier, checked off on a long list of items no longer worthy of urgent action.

Last Tuesday morning, NASA's contention that it had produced the safest fuel tank in shuttle history was shattered two minutes into the Discovery's mission to the International Space Station. Two spacewalking astronauts tested repair techniques at the station yesterday.

The 0.9-pound piece of foam that fell from the PAL ramp on liftoff, which could have led to another catastrophe if it had ripped away a minute sooner, forced the immediate suspension of future shuttle flights until the problem could be resolved."

and on PAGE 3 !!!!

"Among other things, it improved the training processes for applying foam by hand. At the Michoud tank assembly plant in Louisiana, an observer monitors every worker spraying foam - "for every sprayer there's a watcher, a second pair of eyes," said June Malone, a NASA spokeswoman.

"But the tank that flew with the Discovery last week was made before the new procedures went into effect, and NASA stopped short of requiring that the ramps be redone, said a spokesman, Martin J. Jensen."

John notes:

I would fight to increase the budget for NASA, but it appears that some is needed for remedial analysis & implementation. [and John might not have buried the lede]

Dan Grobstein File

  • James Wolcott: How Do You Like It Now, Gentlemen? But I can't help but think of Bush and Cheney and the neocons and the war rooters at The Weekly Standard and The National Review and the liberal warhawks and all those loudmouths on talk radio and at Fox News, who have been spouting their WWII battle cries and analogies and vilifying an antiwar movement that barely exists and spotting traitors wherever they train their bloodshot McCarthyite eyeballs and cheerleading for rendition and torture, and wonder as the memorial flags are planted in the grass in Ohio: How do you like it now, gentlemen?
  • "Google" logo maker
  • The central trope of [the editor's favorite movie] Groundhog Day, continues to worm its way into society, for example, in the comic This Modern World.
  • Gasoline Prices comparing LA to the US and to NJ, where Dan lives.
  • American Prospect: Reasonable Doubt. What if the four London bombers didn't know they were bombers?
  • Juan Cole: How We Got Into This Iraq Mess.
  • Whiskey Bar: More Ohio Electoral Crimes. Dan's comment:
    I'm not really a conspiracy sort of guy. I think that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK. I think that Jack Ruby killed Oswald on the spur of the moment. I think that James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. I don't think that the government is holding space alien bodies in the deep freeze.

    I do however, think that something is fishy in Ohio election results.
  • Talking Points Memo: Sources Close To The White House: A Guide

New York Times

  • NATIONAL | July 31, 2005
    Tow Trucks Prowl, and Authorities Crack Down
    By ANDREW POLLACK
    A spate of recent cases in which towers have been accused of being overly aggressive has riled not only motorists but prosecutors and lawmakers, as well.
  • OPINION | August 1, 2005
    Op-Ed Columnist: Triumph of the Machine
    By PAUL KRUGMAN
    The Bush administration does a bad job at governing in part because its highest priority is always to reward its friends.
  • BUSINESS / YOUR MONEY | July 31, 2005
    How Wall Street Wrecked United's Pension
    By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH
    The money managers walked away unscathed. The airline's employees and pensioners and the federal pension guarantor will have to pick up the bill.
  • INTERNATIONAL / EUROPE | August 2, 2005
    Istanbul Journal: A Subway Bores Into the Ottoman and Byzantine Eras
    By MARK LANDLER
    It does not take an archaeologist to see the risks of digging under one of the world's most ancient cities.
  • EDUCATION / EDUCATION LIFE | July 31, 2005
    Teaching for Teachers: Who Needs Education Schools?
    BY ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
    What colleges teach. What teachers need to know. And why they're not the same.
  • Note from Dan: I guess it doesn't matter that US Technology is falling behind the rest of the world. The Republican party has to stay in power and give out goodies to its friends. I don't know what will happen once they break the economy. I guess they'll have all the money so it won't bother them.
    Article in question:
    SCIENCE | August 3, 2005
    South Korean Scientists Clone Man's Best Friend, a First
    By GINA KOLATA
    A team of South Korean researchers reports it has cloned what scientists deem the most difficult animal of all - the dog.

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