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 30, 2006: P.S. A Column On Things

January 30, 2006 Vol. 8, No. 5

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Groundhog Day (The Movie) and Buddhism

Political News

  • Bush Spying, Bush Muddled, The End Of The American Republic This Week, Internet Kind Of People: Do Dems Want Them?

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • The Top 16 Signs Your Showbiz Career Isn't Taking Off
  • Bush Is A Saint

Movies

  • Neal Vitale Reviews: Casanova, Constant Gardner, Hustle and Flow

Letters

  • Art House Problems, Some Canadian Links, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Groundhog Day (The Movie) and Buddhism

Welcome to another perennial item. I run this one every year in conjunction with Groundhog Day, (the 34th funniest American film of all time, according to the American Film Institute) since the Bill Murray movie of the same name is my favorite movie of all times. This is the fifth time I've run this item!

I went to a showing of Groundhog Day sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center on Friday, Aug. 10, 2001, held in the Trustees' Auditorium of the Asian Art Museum in Golden Gate Park (relocating in October 2002 to the old SF Main library in the civic center).

I have so much to say about this exciting, exhilarating, eye-opening experience that it is now a subsite titled Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me, which includes a description of that seminal showing, commentary, and links to other sites that deal with the connection. While noticing the connection between this movie and Buddhism is not particularly profound, it was news to me, and the nuances were explored in a particularly exciting fashion during the Zen Center presentation. My set of pages are rapidly gaining ground as the authoritative center for GHD/Buddhism commentary on the web. I brush it up and add new material regularly, so if you haven't been there in a while, take a look.

If you love the work of GHD writer Danny Rubin as much as I do, check out his web site which includes a bio, a list of his works in progress (exciting) and a list of his sold films (also exciting).

I can't wait for his next released film. Go Danny!

In the meantime, note that the University of California has published a Groundhog Day book, by Ryan Gilbey.

11am

Political Notes

Bush Spying, Bush Muddled, The End Of The American Republic This Week, Internet Kind Of People: Do Dems Want Them?

U.S. accused of spying on those who disagree with Bush policies
BY WILLIAM E. GIBSON
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
[last paragraphs]
"Neither you nor anybody in that (Quaker) church had anything to do with terrorism," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla. "The fact is, the Truth Project may have a philosophy that is adverse to the political philosophy and goals of the president of the United States. And as a result of that different philosophy, the president and the secretary of defense ordered that your group be spied upon.

"There should not be a single American who today remains confident that it couldn't happen to them."

***

No Comment Required:

Office of the Press Secretary: The White House. "President Discusses Strengthening Social Security in Florida." 4 February 2005.

Question: ...How is it the new plan is going to fix that problem?

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)

***

Raw Story: No tomorrow.... If all goes as planned, in a week or so that Republic will finally escape our grip. When the Senate votes to affirm Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the central tenet of our government - the separation of powers - will take a blow from which it will likely never recover. In its place a de facto monarchy will solidify and expand, and our Constitution will join the Geneva Convention as a quaint anachronism. And the Republic we have kept for two hundred years will join its Athenian and Roman predecessors as good ideas whose time has passed.

***

Washington Post: Blogs Attack From Left as Democrats Reach for Center

It is possible that the real attitude of the people who have been running and ruining the Democratic Party was inadvertently revealed in this comment:

The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

Here's the response from firedoglake.com:

I'm going to let James field this one. His comments are here:
If your name is accompanied by the words "Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign," then you deserve a warm glass of shut-the-hell-up.

Briefs

Impeachment Watch

Alito Watch

8:00

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

by Craig Reynolds

Pixar takes over Disney: OK, I know that technically Disney purchased Pixar, but the way Pixar's brain trust ends up in several key positions at Disney its easy to see it the other way: Disney-Pixar merger pact lays out conditions.  Steve Jobs goes to the Disney Board of Directors.  Ed Catmull (who I'm proud to say I've known since 1978) goes from president of Pixar to president of the combined Pixar and Disney Animation Studios. John Lasseter will be Disney's Chief Creative Officer. "Jobs said that most of the discussions with Disney focused on managing the cultural issues between Pixar and Disney.... 'We think we understand how to keep Pixar being Pixar.'"  Some have compared the current situation to when to some extent "NeXT took over Apple".  In a related development, plans for a non-Pixar Toy Story sequel are scraped: 'Toy Story 3' to Be Retooled at Pixar-Sources.

Google news: after the Feds contend "all your query are belong to us": Senator seeks information on subpoena of Google.  Now everyone is talking about how to be more anonymous in your searching: Keeping Secrets ("A simple prescription for keeping Google's records out of government hands"), Privacy for People Who Don't Show Their Navels and How to Foil Search Engine Snoops.  But their short-lived reputation for sticking up for the little guy against government abuses dissolved: Google censors itself for China (see for example this image search for "tiananmen" on google.com and google.cn). Their rationalization was "While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information...is more inconsistent with our mission". Well, isn't that convenient?  At least they can still push around Baby Bells: Google to BellSouth: Go Tier Yourself a New One.  Google team with Lenovo Group and Sun: Tech Giants Take on BadwareGoogle News is "out of beta." Finally How to add a Google Map to any web page in less than 10 minutes.

DRM: the Broadcast Flag did not fly as an FCC rule, now Hollywood's lackeys are trying to push this nosebleed concept through the legislature: New Senate Broadcast Flag Bill Would Freeze Fair Use.  What do you expect in the The Year of Living DRMishlyJ. Alex Halderman and Ed Felten have been reverse-engineering the Sony BMG malware and report at Freedom to Tinker: CD DRM: Attacks on Disc Recognition (via).

Technobits: a schism in Open Source? I won't convert Linux to GPL 3, says Torvalds --- UN body backs $100 laptop for world's kids --- Internet serves as 'social glue' --- Can video iPod lead to DMCA reform? --- Not All Web Recommendations Are Welcome: Like This? You'll Hate That --- can't do better than a DVD in my living room?!  What Business are theaters in? --- internal surgical robots --- Intel shows test chips made on future processes --- Court Will Hear BlackBerry Case Next Month --- Demystifying the eBay Selling Experience --- Freezing cold Earth-like planet is discovered --- Strange setup: Andromeda's satellite galaxies all lined up --- Again?!  With all of their innovation in software and hardware, surely Apple need not produce lame derivative commercials?: Indie band cries foul over Apple's new Intel ad

7:00

Humor

The Top 16 Signs Your Showbiz Career Isn't Taking Off

As they say in the lottery, you can't win if you don't play. It has been a long time since I contributed to a list, and I made it... just barely.

16> People Magazine refers to you as a "simple man's Adam Sandler."

15> You only release one video every other year or so, and it's always from the same Tora Bora cave.

14> You've been crashing on Leif Garrett's sofa since 1997.

13> You let Tom Cruise knock you up.

12> Your Ruben-Studdard-in-drag *killed* in C-block, but those narrow-minded producers wouldn't let you get anywhere near Simon, Randy and Paula.

11> Sure, gay cowboy movies are the rage, but the shot-on-video one for which you're auditioning is titled "PokeBack Mountin'."

10> You're beginning to think Mr. de Mille wasn't serious about bringing you back on board for the "Ten Commandments" sequel.

9> Citing "chemistry," they team your dummy up with a different ventriloquist.

8> Tom Cruise: "Interview With the Vampire." You: interview with the floor manager at Bargain Barn.

7> Simon Cowell says, "You suck!" -- using his butt cheeks.

6> Your act? Covering Milli Vanilli songs at a karaoke bar. Your act's name? Milli Vanilli.

5> Best role on your resume: Homeless Man's Butt Double.

4> The producers decide that credibility dictates someone else play the part of you in "Andy Warhol's '15 Minutes' Theory: The Exception."

3> Despite your best attempts at conveying sincerity and honesty, your audience remains unconvinced that those are, indeed, today's specials.

2> The only people who want to record you are in the Bush Administration.

and Topfive.com's Number 1 Sign Your Showbiz Career Isn't Taking Off...

1> Your already-small role in "The Lance Armstrong Story" is being trimmed in favor of more shots of a cancerous testicle.

[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ] [ Copyright 2006 by Chris White ]

Selected from 129 submissions from 46 contributors. Today's Top 5 List authors are: Brad Simanek, Cedar Rapids, IA -- 1 (37th #1/Hall of Famer)

Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 14

6:50

Bush Is A Saint

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Methodist Church outside Washington. Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said to him,"We've been getting a lot of bad publicity among Methodists because of Bush's position on stem cell research, the War, and such. I'll gladly make a contribution to the church of $100,000 if during your sermon, you'd say the President is a saint."

The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and said, "The Church is in desperate need of funds. I will do it."

Bush pompously showed up that following Sunday, looking especially smug, smirking for his photo ops, while strutting his way, cowboy-style, into the church.

As the sermon started, the Bishop began his homily:

"George Bush is a petty, self-absorbed hypocrite as well as a nitwit. He is a liar, a cheat, probably still a drunk, and a low-intelligence sneaky weasel. He has lied about his military record, and then had the gall to put himself in uniform on a military jet, landing on a carrier, and then posing before a banner stating 'Mission Accomplished.' He invaded a country for oil and money, all the while lying to the American people about the war, with nary a care for the thousands of lives it has taken and continues to take. He is the worst example of a Methodist I've ever personally known or known of.

But compared to Dick Cheney, George Bush is a saint."

6:45

Movies

Neal Vitale Reviews: Casanova, Constant Gardner, Hustle and Flow

Casanova - 3 stars

This lightweight, vaguely Shakespearean comedy of mistaken and misappropriated identities is a pleasant, pretty diversion that unfortunately devolves into slapstick and overly broad farce. While there are far worse ways to entertain yourself these days at the multiplex, Casanova is surprising in that it is the work of Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom. Perhaps setting a film in Venice was reward enough, as this film does not compare with his best work, The Cider House Rules and Chocolat.

--Neal Vitale

The Constant Gardener - 5 stars

I had the pleasure of watching this film a second time through, in its current release on DVD. The beautiful and subtle use of color that marked The Constant Gardener in its theatrical release seems a bit muted in home viewing, but other wonderful details stand out even more sharply. In particular, I appreciated the sensuality and vibrancy of Rachel Weisz's performance, and Bill Nighy shines in a small role as a conniving, high-handed British politician. Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) has made an absorbing, intelligent, and disturbing film from John le Carre's novel; it is my clear choice as this year's Best Picture.

--Neal Vitale

Hustle & Flow - 3.5 stars

I missed this film in its theatrical release, but watched it recently on DVD. Hustle & Flow was the big story at last year's Sundance Film Festival, and it is an impressive and accomplished film. High-energy, filled with fine acting, Hustle & Flow is the story of a Memphis pimp trying to make it as a rapper. Terrence Howard (Crash, Ray) gives a breakout performance as DJay, who tries every avenue to follow hometown boy Skinny Black (well-played by real-life rapper Ludacris) to success in the world of crunk/dirty south ("sex-obsessed, cuss-oriented Southern rap," per www.urbandictionary.com). Anthony Anderson (Barbershop, Kangaroo Jack) and Taryn Manning (8 Mile, White Oleander, Cold Mountain) are very good in supporting roles, and Memphis-born Shaft-composer/singer Isaac Hayes has a nice cameo. Hustle & Flow is powerful, well-written, and eminently worth seeing, and you may find yourself singing "Whoop That Trick" for days. [Note - believe the ratings board when it puts an R on a film like this for "pervasive language."]

--Neal Vitale

6:00

Letters

Art House Problems, Some Canadian Links, Dan Grobstein File

Peggy Coquet checks in with this gem from Salon.

Cinema Purgatorio: The horrors of art houses. Art houses, the sanctuaries of cinephiles, have their own peculiar horrors. Despite their noble commitment to the movies, what happens there on a nightly basis is far more absurd than anything that happens in the multiplex.... After years of intensive study, LA Weekly's Scott Foundas may have discovered the height of art-house snobbery: laughing at an unsubtitled bit of dialogue in a foreign film.

She and her husband Steve have laughed. So have I, in both French and German.

David Cheatley of Essential Computer Services in Canada noted a small error in a recent column, then went on to offer several interesting links:

Stephen Harper [the new Canadian PM] has been working for the last 2 years at looking less like a conservative academic and more like a person who can relate to normal people. Here's some links:

The good thing about [last week's] election is that the government needs the co-operation of 2 parties to pass anything. And the choices go from left to centre: NDP, Liberal, and Bloc Quebecois.

Do you ever read Ironic Times? Here are 2 gems from previous weeks that I particularly liked:

    • If we face up to reality, the realists will have won.
    • A Year of Progress in Iraq: We've established democracy three times, stamped out all corruption twice, stopped abusing prisoners again and again, liberated Falluja repeatedly, trained Iraqi security forces successfully over and over, devised strategy for victory time after time and won the war on numerous occasions.

Dan Grobstein File

  • Talking Points Memo: Just a question. Back in 1988, then-Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) launched his jihad against House Speaker Jim Wright over his infamous book deal -- an arrangement which, while by no means kosher, seems almost quaint by today's standards. Wright was eventually forced to resign the speakership in May of 1989. Did Gingrich base his crusade on pushing for tighter rules on book deals?
  • Molly Ivins: Not. backing. Hillary. AUSTIN, Texas (Creators Syndicate) -- I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president. [be sure and check the end of the column]
  • The Late David Rosenbaum on Jack Abramoff. The late David Rosenbaum, the very well-regarded New York Times reporter who was murdered early this month near his home in Upper Northwest, wrote an excellent page A1 story about Jack Abramoff almost four years ago: back on April 3, 2002. "At $500 an Hour, Lobbyist's Influence Rises With G.O.P." By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM WASHINGTON, April 2 - In the last six months of 2001, the Coushatta Indians, a tribe with 800 members and a large casino in southwest Louisiana, paid $1.76 million to the law firm of Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist here. Last month, the Bush administration handed the tribe a big victory by blocking construction of a casino by a rival tribe that would have drained off much of the Coushattas' business.
  • Rules for Political Discourse, via Atrios.
  • Juan Cole: Top Ten Mistakes of the Bush Administration in Reacting to Al-Qaeda
  • Charles Pierce ad Prospect.com: Washington's Worst. In their atrocious new book, Take It Back, James Carville and Paul Begala never go beyond the Beltway.
  • Search Alterman's column for the word "Gore" for a first-hand testimonial to Al's personal qualities.

New York Times

5:00

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