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

December 5, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 48

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Transitional and Transitory
  • Darfour Genocide
  • Political Notes

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • None

Movies

  • None

Letters

  • Coquet on Bush's Disconnectedness, National Debt, CPB; Malchman predicts Warner entry, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Transitional and Transitory

This week was both transitory (nothing important happened to me personally that I know of) and transitional (from two daughters at home to none, with a transition back to two by Dec. 20). It reminded me of how important it is to enjoy the journal as well as the destination. This is one of those sage pieces of advice I've actually found it relatively easy to follow over the years.

So much of life is transitory and leaves no impact on our lives or our memories. The mundane, particularly, is flushed from our minds--and thank God for that; if we remembered everything we would surely go insane. For example, I cannot remember how or when I washed my clothes when I lived in Student House, or Winthrop or Hartford. There were washing machines; I don't think I ever had to use a coin laundry. But what happened to all this mundane hours? They're gone. If not for my photos and my journals, my relationships with my first three girlfriends woul also mostly be a blank--and consulting the journals has taught me that I have forgotten much of what transpired and remember incorrectly much that did. Without my journal, I would never have recalled the touching tenderness MW showed MC on our joint train trip to NYC in the spring of 1971, a moment I'd rather not lose.

Another thought on the transitory nature of last week--I don't really know if something important happened or not. In five decades of life so far, I can think of very few occasions when I knew that my decision, or lack of decision, or an action taken by someone else would make a permanent impact on my life. When Dave Jack laid me off at KLIQ, I knew I'd never be a talk show host. When S, my first fiancée, told me to chose between her and the school newspaper. I chose the newspaper. When Tony Sinskey, my freshman advisor, told me I was in the twilight of a mediocre academic career, I decided to ignore him, and I knew the consequences would be life-changing. When Vicki accepted my marriage proposal. When FP laid me off from my last computer journalism job, I knew at that instant that my life was changed forever.

Those, however, are the exceptions. For the most part, the momentous and the trivial feel the same when they are taking place. It is only in hindsight that we are privileged to know which is which. And sometimes even hindsight fails, as causal relations are disguised from us; we never know what moment was the turning point, the tipping point, the straw that broke the camel's back. We find that we've made a dramatic left-hand turn, but don't know when or why it happened. So, last week could have included the most important decision of my life, and I don't know it yet and may never now it. That is one of the many things about life that gives me the whim-whams.

The other thing we never know, of course, is which visit is the last one. Perhaps I will never see Dr. S again. I didn't know which conversation with my mother and father in-law was going to be the last until after the fact. I didn't realize when I was having my last conversation with my mentor, Edwin Diamond. Same with my good friend, Richard Parker. Only a very few times in our lives do we know when we are saying goodbye. Which is why, as a matter of policy, I make certain that everyone I really love in life always knows how much I love them.

11am

Darfour Genocide

Richard Dalton writes: "This is from a friend whose judgement I trust without reservation in areas of social concern."

I've asked before; I'm pleading now. Today please make the time to call
your two Senators and your Congressional representative, expressing your
desire for the American government to help stop the genocide in Darfur.
To read more about this human slaughter and how
you personally can help stop it, go to
http://www.savedarfur.org.

All you have to do is make one call. To find out the contact info for
your Senators and Congressman, go to
http://www.congress.org, or you can
call the U.S. capital switchboard at (877) 762-8762 or (202) 224-3121.
To make your case stronger when speaking to your
Congresspeople or their aids, you might want to make these points:

1) The U.S. should help build the African Union Security Force
(Congress recently cut out the $50 million dollars from the federal
budget that would have been used for this purpose).

2) There needs to be an expanded U.N. security force in Darfur

3) The U.S. should support a no-fly zone to protect civilians

4) The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act should be passed in the
House of Representatives

5) We want President Bush to talk about this issue whenever and however
possible, to awaken the American people to the horror of this
situation and to our moral responsibility to address it.

It has been said that if one hundred people in each Congressional
district in the U.S. had contacted their representatives about the
Rwandan genocide, then that would have generated the political will to
stop it. The Rwandan horror is being repeated today in the Sudan, and
the U.S. is not yet doing everything we can to help. Not even close.

Dante's famous quote resonates: "There is a special place in hell
reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, remain neutral."
Genociate in the Sudan is a moral crisis of the first degree. And we
can stop it. Amen.

Please help spread the word.... Thanks.

10:00

Political Notes

What Bush Meant, Time for Bush to comment on Plamegate, Iraq then and Now

The article you may have difficulty finding in the newspapers of Thursday, December 1, 2005:

In a speech to a captive audience at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, yesterday, George W. Bush confirmed that the policies he has advocated in Iraq have been a total disaster. The audience applauded politely. In May 2003, Mr. Bush said the mission had been accomplished. Yesterday Mr. Bush indicated the mission could not possibly have been fully accomplished in May 2003 because he was now announcing that he was just developing a plan for victory. Mr. Bush did not address the issue of whether in May 2003 he was deliberately lying, mistaken, or merely totally out of touch with reality. Mr. Bush also did not address the issue of whether he is currently (or has at any time since 2001 been) under the influence of any medication or other substance which would distort his view of reality.

***

George W. Bush has consistently refused to comment on the exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security caused by the indicted Scooter Libby and the as yet unindicted Karl Rove on the grounds that the matter is before the courts. However, after recently resigned Rep. Randy Cunningham (R. - Cal.) pled guilty in late November, 2005, Bush attempted to influence a pending judicial matter - the issue of Cunningham's sentence. Bush said he thought Cunningham should be seriously punished. Having established he has no compunctions about commenting on pending judicial proceedings, it's time for Bush to tell us what he knew and when he knew it about every aspect of the Cheney-Plame-Libby-Rove Affair.

***

The public has been led into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information... The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows... We are today not far from a disaster.

- T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) The Sunday Times of London, Aug. 22, 1920

Briefs

Plamegate

  • BBC: The Gullible One [Judith Miller] admits she operated on the basis of assumptions, not facts, in reporting for the Times. Analysis of Judy Kneepad's BBC apology from Theleftcoaster.
  • Remember, Plamegate was all about the fake documents from Niger. So, it is fair to ask: how big was the circle? Will the FBI (Feeble Bureau of non-Investigation) find that the path of the forged documents was CIA (at Cheney's request) to Cheney to Libby to Feith to Ledeen to Italians to Libby to Cheney to CIA to State of the Union or will they find the path was Bush to Rice to Hadley to CIA (at George's request) to Cheney to Libby to Feith to Ledeen to Italians to Libby to Cheney to CIA to Hadley to Rice to State of the Union)?

8:00

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

by Craig Reynolds

Sony-BMG DRM reverberations: BusinessWeek describes the debacle as For Sony, a Pain in the Image.  There are now major lawsuits filed in California, Texas and New York.  Roundup of outrages: Does Sony's Copy Protection Infringe Copyrights? (more here and here), Sony, First4 Knew About Rootkit Issue in Advance, News.com asks: Who has the right to control your PC?, Sony insider: DRM is discredited at Sony, Sony BMG - malware feature comparison and Sticky Tape Defeats Sony DRM Copy Protection.  The last word goes to FoxTrot.

Google backlash: the company whose credo is "don't be evil" is getting less and less popular as it grows: Big Google Becomes Big Target, Who's Afraid of Google? Everyone. and Cringely on: Google-Mart See also: Google Video of the Day, a blog that recommends several selections each day.

iTunes: Joel Spolsky's Price as Signal is a great analysis of why the music labels want to change iTunes' winning "any song for 99 cents" policy.  The music barons may want to control iTunes, but since Apple's operation is on its way to becoming the leading music retailer (Apple's iTunes edging out music stores) it seems Steve Jobs can call his own shots.  Also: iPod DRM faces another reverse-engineering challenge.

Video on demand revisited: as recently discussed here, there is a spike of renewed interest in "video on demand".  It was seen years ago as the killer app for interactive cable TV which never panned out.  Now with web-based access and delivery, video iPods, Tivo-to-iPod, etc., it is quite the trendy topic again: Wherever, whenever video in spotlight for 2006 and Phone and Media Firms Haggle Over Video on Demand.

Malicious bibliography on Wikipedia: it is easy to sympathize with the plight of John Seigenthaler Sr. (of the Kennedy administration, father of the NBC correspondent) who was apparently the target of a deliberate smear via an article in the open source encyclopedia, as he describes in A false Wikipedia 'biography'. However in his anger I think he overstates the problem when he says "I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool."  He says his experience refutes the view that Wikipedia's "community of thousands of volunteer editors ... corrects mistakes within minutes." But keep in mind that the likelihood of an article being corrected is proportional to its readership.  A false statement inserted into the article about President Bush would be fixed in minutes.  An error in an article about John Seigenthaler Sr. apparently takes about 132 days to be noticed.  How much harm was caused by this malicious article? It would be important to know just how many people accessed this Wikipedia article during those 132 days. I suggest the number is probably very, very low -- and hence so is the harm done.

Technobits: Baking privacy into personal data --- Search Inside the Music --- Olive oil's heart effect located --- Probe 'gathers asteroid material' --- Browser Face-Off --- The 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities (mostly Windows oriented) --- Free 1200-page physics textbook --- A Sense of Scale a visual comparison of various distances --- self-referential Dilbert --- beautiful Crab Nebula Mosaic from HST.

7:00

Humor

Nonw

6:50

Movies

None

6:00

Letters

Coquet on Bush's Disconnectedness, National Debt, CPB; Malchman predicts Warner entry, Dan Grobstein File

Steve Coquet found this in National Journal via Doonesbury's daily briefing. He added his own emphasis:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff says" Bush "was 'too aloof, too distant from the details' of post-war planning, allowing underlings to exploit Bush's detachment and make bad decisions," AP reports. "In an Associated Press interview Monday, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees after Sept. 11 arose from a coterie of the White House and Pentagon aides who argued that 'the president of the United States is all-powerful,' and that Geneva Conventions were irrelevant. Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. [emphasis mine]

My question: Isn't someone in his position, or any competent adult, expected to have a certain sense of proportion, a certain sense of right and wrong, which render such advice absurd on the surface and cause him to dismiss, if not the giver of it, at least the advice itself? [ed: Well, yes.]

Also from Steve:

"I place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."

-Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect and author (1743-1826)

It should be tattooed on the forehead of every neocon so that they would have to look at some truth while talking to each other.

Finally, he suggests, check out the CPB Scandal, which is ongoing.

Dan Grobstein File

  • 'Tis A Sign: On the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court accepting arguments for the frivolous lawsuit "Bush vs Gore", the Supreme Court's facade crumbles.
  • Napster UK ad. Quote: "It must be interesting to live in a country where a tushie shot doesn't send the entire nation into apoplectic seizures" (You thought Janet Jackson was bad?)
  • How To Spot A Terrorist (with pictures, ironically, of the President)

5:00

You are visitor number


since Oct. 16, 1998.

To obtain a reminder when I post my weekly electronic column,
or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism, email me. (pes-at-sign-schindler-dot-org)

Paul Schindler Home Page PS...ACOT BACK ISSUE archives
Journalism Movies Journalism Quotes
You COULD Pay For This Column Journalism Books
Larry King: Letters From Europe Kevin Sullivan on Teaching
My Prarie Home Companion Script Groundhog Day: Best Film Ever
Women in Journalism Movies Larry King: British Journalists
Edwin Diamond: An Appreciation Tales of Teaching

Page forwarding code courtesy of:
BNB: HTML, free CGI Scripts, graphics, tutorials and more- for free!

FavIcon (displayed in browser address box) courtesy of:
Richard Sleegers


Blog-rolling (My Friends' Weblogs):
Jim Forbes' Forbes on Tech
Jim Powell's The Office Letter