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

March 6, 2006: P.S. A Column On Things

March 6, 2006 Vol. 8, No. 10

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Teaching tips: Movies and textbooks

Political News

  • Culture of Corruption Update, Listen to the Troops

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Next week...


  • None


  • My Oscar Picks


  • Funny Onion Piece, Dern Finds 23rd Qualm, Carroll Cat Column, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Teaching tips: Movies and textbooks

Busy, busy week. A couple of quick notes from the land of teaching.

Remember 16mm films? The AV Club? Throwing a sound loop? Well, most of you of a certain age will remember the films, at least. Expensive, difficult to show, requires a darkened room. Now, first with VHS (OK, but what if you forget to rewind) and DVD (nearly perfect), showable via LCD projector (if you are lucky enough to have one) in a dimly lit room, there is no excuse for a) not giving you and your students a break now and then with content-filled video and b) insisting the students either take notes or answer questions about the movie. No more passively sitting there and taking it in.

Textbook adoption. Every seven years whether you like it or not. Should we pick the textbook we like, or the one the students like? Teach up or teach down? Succumb to the blandishments of the well-organized sales team of one publisher, or the soft-sell of another. In our district, with its median home price in the $600,000 range and 90% Internet penetration at home, we have to look for a pretty high end product. We are pilot-testing the new books at each grade level and will make our choice soon. One choice we don't have: every approved textbook is aligned with the California State Standards--which, considering how dumb the standards are, is quite an accomplishment.


Political Notes

Culture of Corruption Update, Listen to the Troops

Huffington Post: The Full Disclosure Tucker Carlson Isn't Making.

Tucker Carlson is another exemplar of the Republican culture of corruption. His behavior, as cited in this article, is right up there with George Will using what may have been the the fruits of a criminal enterprise (the "missing" Carter briefing book) to prepare Reagan for a joint press conference (a so-called "debate") with Jimmy Carter in 1980. Rright after the joint press conference, Will appeared on ABC to give his view of the debate and Reagan's performance. He did not mention on air (and apparently did not disclose to ABC) that he had prepared Reagan to perform for the debate. Will's conduct is called, in some circles, a blatant conflict of interest. So is Carlson's.


  • One coment here at Firedog Lake: Due diligence in this Administration means counting the money before the bagman leaves."


Richard Dalton checks in:

While the results of CBS' polls showing another nosedive in Bush's performance ratings have gotten a lot of (appropriate) attention, another survey by Zogby and Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and International Studies should have gotten more attention than it seemed to. Zogby/Le Moyne interviewed 944 military "at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq." Some of the results: "An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College's Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq "immediately," while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay "as long as they are needed."

The whole press release is well worth reading.



While I am not in a lather about Dubai Ports, other people are:


  • Details Emerge in Latest Plame Emails: The contents of the emails are said to be damning, according to sources close to the investigation who are familiar with their substance. The emails are said to implicate Cheney in a months-long effort to discredit Wilson - a fact that Cheney did not disclose when he was interviewed by federal investigators in early 2004, these sources said.


Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Coming soon...






Oscar Picks

OK, now you know whether I was right or wrong. Ignore the posting time; that just makes the column come out in the right order. Here are my picks, filed at 10am on Sunday. In each category, I picked the one I thought should win (m), and the one the Academy (a) will pick, in my opinion


Best picture:: Me: Capote, (A) Munich
Director: (m) Miller for Capote, (a) Spielberg for Munich
Best Actor: (m) Hoffman for Capote, (a) Howard for Hustle and Flow
Best Actress: (m) Huffman for Transamerica, (a) Knightley for Pride and Prejudice
Supporting Actress: (m) Weisz for Constant Gardner, (a) Williams For Brokeback
Supporting Actor: (m) Dillon for Crash, (a) Giamatti for Cinderella Man
Animated feature: Wallace And Gromit

And, since I was able to see all the nominated animated and live-action shorts (thank you Landmark Cinemas; I hope you now do this every year--go see them this year and in future years if you can), I am able to predict:

Live Action Short: Our Time Is Up

Animated Short: Badgered (but projection difficulties prevented me from seeing Pixar's One Man Band, and doesn't Pixar have the patent on this category?) By the way, two of the nominated films were apocalyptic. What is it about the Apocalypse that makes it so darn tempting to animate?



Funny Onion Piece, Dern Finds 23rd Qualm, Carroll Cat Column, Dan Grobstein File

A reader suggests Life Is Too Precious To Be Enjoyed at The Onion; I agree, it is funny.

Daniel Dern found the 23rd Qualm: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war,
I will find no exit, for thou art in office."

Jon Carroll does it again: a terrific cat column I call Blame it on the Siamese (his columns do not have headlines anymore).

Dan Grobstein File

Dan went to a Town Hall forum on impeachment. Here's his report:

They all think there is a case for impeachment: warrantless wiretaps, lying us into war, illegal detention and torture. The president believes that he is above the law. He has admitted to an impeachable offense (the illegal wiretapping). The executive branch believes that it doesn't need the legislative or judiciary branches. There is no statute of limitations in the law if somebody dies from torture so these guys will be looking over their shoulders for years. John Conyers has introduced legislation to set up a select committee to look into the impeachment issues. He needs more co-sponsors. He and the others on the panel basically believe that the Congress needs to go through the basics to build a case just like the Ervin committee did. The key is Democratic party control after the 2006 Congressional elections. Nothing is likely to happen before that. Even though there will be much less left of Dubya's term at this point than when Nixon was investigated, it still needs to be done as a message to other presidents. If we don't do it, what will be left of our democracy to leave to our children? It isn't a partisan issue for the Congress to re-assert its authority. The news media believes that there is a Democratic branch of government and a Republican branch of government. It ignores the actual three branches setup. It ignores the scandals and the low poll numbers. John Conyers wondered what, if any, coverage there would be of the panel in the news media. Elizabeth Holtzman has a piece in The Nation about impeachment which is online. John Dean will have a new book out soon. John Dean doesn't feel that anybody in the White House is working on an impeachment defense at this time. Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation could help matters along. Elizabeth Holtzman brought up the 230 emails just given to him as possible obstruction of justice. She says that a court doesn't have to find anyone guilty for impeachment nor does a specific law have to be broken. High crimes and misdemeanors is what the Congress says they are. I was disappointed in Lewis Lapham. I expected a more concise contribution from him. He wandered. John Dean and Elizabeth Holtzman were good. The two of them, moderated by Lapham would probably have made a better panel. These big panels are unwieldy and tend to wander. John Conyers kept coming back to his resolution. Michael Ratner wants more grassroots action and wants people to corner their congresscritter and tell them they want impeachment to go forward.

One question I thought of on the train home that I wished had been answered is "who do they think he was wiretapping?" Obviously there were domestic wiretaps and obviously they didn't want to go to the FISA court for the warrants. covered the same impeachment forum.

  • Huffington Post: Administration Business Deals. "How come whenever there's a big deal, one of them owns the company, or used to own the company, or used to run the company that owns the company, or used to run the company that sold part of the company to the company that's making the deal? And probably owns a lot of stock in the company (or the parent company or the company that invested in the company)?"
  • Washington Monthly: Universal Health Care. "But come the 2008 presidential race, every single Democrat running absolutely, positively must support in a persuasive way some form of genuine national health insurance."
  • BushCo Disgracing America


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