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

April 10, 2006 Vol. 8, No. 15

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Manzanita, Oregon

Political News

  • The President Made Me Do It

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Humor

  • The Top 17 Signs Your Mom Is Actually Your Dad
  • The Top 14 Evangelical Christian Wrestlers

Movies

  • Ice Age 2

Letters

  • Lasusa Links, Numerical Oddity, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Manzanita, Oregon

I spent last week on the Oregon coast. Normally, I stay in beachside motels there, or sometimes in a rental home near Salisham Lodge, but friends of the family recently purchased a beautiful home a few miles north of Manzanita, Oregon, and they graciously allowed me to use it. Alas, the phone wasn’t turned on yet. Horrors—a week without Internet access. No one in the nearby housing development apparently has Wifi. My cellphone doesn’t work here either. This may be the most relaxing vacation I’ve taken in ages. My goal was to read at least two books and see 4 old movies a day. It was a rigorous schedule, but I felt I was up for it. (I actually saw a total of 6 movies, not 16, and finished only one book, The DaVinci Code—now I’m ready for the movie!)

One distraction: there is Wifi and a Cybercafe in Manzanita (open 10-4). On the other hand, nearly everything else in town was closed Monday and Tuesday, which reduced the temptation to bop into town, and increased the likelihood that I would make most of my own meals and so avoid gaining weight.

Another distraction is the view. I can see about five miles of Oregon coast from this perch, and since I enjoy looking at and listening to the Ocean more than I enjoy spending time in it, this house is close to perfect.

I feel my batteries recharging already, and it is only Tuesday as I write this. Alas, my gosh-darn Palm III Palm Pilot lost its mind during the trip up here, so I couldn’t call anyone even if I did have a working telephone. Is God trying to tell me something about relaxing??

11am

Political Notes

The President Made Me Do It

Papers: Cheney Aide Says Bush OK'd Leak

It was George (and Dick) who authorized the leaks, as was intuitively obvious to the most casual observer at the time. As PSACOT has previously reported both George and Dick were and are clear and present dangers to the national security and have caused exceptionally grave damage to national security, Arguably, without a formal written declassification order, the material is still classified. Further, the people to whom the disclosures were made did not have appropriate clearances or a need to know for a reason benefiting the nation as opposed to a private interest. See also:

· Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) Letter to Bush about Classification Issues from Plame Investigation

· Filing in US v. Libby: Govt's Response to Defendant's Third Motion To Compel Discovery, see esp. pages 19 and 20.

***

Briefs

· Daily KOS: Bush to Resign for Health Reasons?

· Free Press.org: Shocking Diebold conflict of interest revelations from Secretary of State further taint Ohio's electoral credibility

· Truthout.org: The Tethered Goat Strategy, By Sidney Blumenthal from the Guardian newspaper. Amazingly, the State Department continues to find new ways to foul up Iraq.

· Kerry introduces resolution calling for Iraq pullout this year

· Gonzales suggests that Bush has the authority to order warantless wiretapping of calls, emails

8:00

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

by Craig Reynolds

Apple gives Windows the boot: tech tongues have been wagging since Apple released a public beta of Boot Camp a pre-release feature of Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) that will allow you to dual boot your Intel-based Mac to Windows XP. (MS software definitely NOT included -- BYOWXP.) The GUI of this "ALT reality" is pure delicious Applesauce, I am confident that never before in the history of computing has there been an easier way to re-partition a live disk. Probably the main motivation for Boot Camp is to encourage fence-sitting "switchers" who want to use Macs, but have a few Windows apps they just can't do without. Virtual PC used to be the best bet, but that became a victim of the move to Intel based Macs (but see Parallels Workstation 2.1 Beta). Certainly there is no risk that Mac users will boot XP then forget to came back (as IF!). There is a typically well-reasoned analysis of Boot Camp and its implications at Daring Fireball. Back when Intel-based Macs were first introduced, there was a lot of speculation about whether the new OS X could be run on non-Apple hardware. Boot Camp is definitely not that capability, but Cringely suggests it might be down the road.

The X-ray observatory never blinks: This struck me as such a very clever idea: normally telescopes alternate between observation and "slewing" into position for the next observation. These two states are mutually exclusive and in fact the instrument is traditionally shuttered during the slew to protect the optics. But operators of the space-based XMM-Newton X-ray observatory realized that keeping the shutter open and recording the data during slew allowed them free sky survey time. This lets them find dynamic phenomena that might otherwise be missed: Telescope profits from 'downtime'.

Canonical MIT/Caltech hack: MIT likes to think it has a friendly rivalry with its Cambridge neighbor Harvard, while Harvard mostly ignores MIT. Similarly MIT is generally ignored by what it considers its west coast "rival" Caltech. MIT also has a rich history of hacks. So it must have made the MIT geeks' hearts swell with pride to be the target of several hacks by Caltech in 2005. Finally, some "respect"! Now MIT hackers (aka the Howe Et Ser Moving Company) have pulled off a 3000 miles transplant of Caltech's 130-year-old 2-ton Fleming cannon (more here and here). The big gun appeared Thursday morning, just in time for the start of Campus Preview Weekend. Note the exquisite workmanship on the "brass rat" (the MIT class ring) that adorns the barrel.

Technobits: Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room --- Seeking changes to the DMCA --- openDRM: not quite as odious as proprietary DRM --- from Mr. PGP, really secure VoIP: A Pretty Good Way to Foil the NSA --- Intellectual Property Run Amok --- Firefox breaks 10 percent, Safari comes in third --- MIT Researchers Build Tiny Batteries With Viruses --- Arctic fossils mark move to land --- spicy chemotherapy --- How Islamic inventors changed the world.

7:00

Humor

The Top 17 Signs Your Mom Is Actually Your Dad

I am more or less proud to say No. 14 is mine…

April 3, 2006
NOTE FROM CHRIS:
An Arizona mother charged with abducting her two children was accused of posing as a man while on the run, and authorities say the heavyset woman with cropped hair and a slight mustache even went as far as to have the kids call her "Daddy."
We've decided to flex our comedic muscles and take a look at things from the opposite angle, using an inverted humor prism to ascertain...
Okay, I screwed up and worded the topic backwards. Sue me!

17> Every Mother's Day, it's yet another dinner at Hooters.
16> Your "Happy Birthday!" message is perfectly written in the snow.
15> Constantly bitching at herself about leaving the toilet seat up.
14> She insists you use air quotes when you call her "Mom."
13> You try to borrow a tampon from her purse, but all you find inside the plastic container is a Slim Jim.
12> She claims her weekly visits to the Platinum Pussycat club are to pick up breast-feeding tips.
11> "Son, that Pamela Anderson seems like one great catch!"
10> After a bad day at the office, she eschews a pint of Chunky Monkey in favor of a pint of Jim Beam.
9> You ask her to sew a button on your shirt and she reaches for the nail gun.
8> Refers to Brad Pitt as "that pansy."
7> Her lavender pumps point *toward* the toilet when she pees in a public stall.
6> None of the other third-graders get Doritos, pickle spears and Bud Light in their school lunch.
5> The only monthly visitor she ever has is a $50 stripper.
4> Her purse perfectly matches her shoes. But at the same time, her five-o'clock shadow perfectly matches her mono-brow.
3> Refuses to watch "Desperate Housewives" because "those broads get on my nerves."
2> Caitlyn's mom sells Mary Kay Cosmetics. Your mom sells Larry's Bait 'n' Tackle.
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Sign Your Mom Is Actually Your Dad...
1> When you run to her and excitedly announce that you just starting bleeding "down there," she shudders and hands you a box of Band-Aids.
[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ] [ Copyright 2006 by Chris White ]
===
Selected from 102 submissions from 38 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
--------------------------
Sandra Hull, Arlington, VA -- 1, 9 (45th #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA – 14

6:50

The Top 14 Evangelical Christian Wrestlers (Part II)

When you’re hot, you’re hot, says No. 9… (Number 13 with Part I: “Whalin Jonah”)

April 7, 2006
14> The Rock of Ages
13> Punch and Judea
12> The Sermonator
11> The Angel of Merciless
10> The Ouchbishop
9> Stone Cold Moses
8> The Bible Thumper
7> The Youth Minister -- of Pain!
6> Judas Iscarrion
5> Punches Piledriver
4> Painin' Abel
3> John the Whaptist
2> The Bad Samaritan
and Topfive.com's Number 1 Evangelical Christian Wrestler...
1> Jesus That Hurt
[ The Top 5 List www.topfive.com ]
[ Copyright 2006 by Chris White ]
=============
Selected from 127 submissions from 45 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
------------------------------
Paul Wiley, Westtown, NY -- 1 (2nd #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA – 9

6:40

Movies

Ice Age 2

2.5 stars

What can you say about a film where the median age of those watching (in Seaside at 6:30 on a Monday) was 8, and which features a fart joke? I think it is clear the movie was aimed at me only tangentially, as a lover of animation. As with nearly all commercial animation, in a tradition started by Warner Brothers in the 40s, Ice Age 2 operates at two levels, the obvious level for the tykes and a winking, coded sophistication for the adults. Alas, whereas Bugs usually balanced the two levels, Blue Sky Studios, in conjunction with the now-defunct 20th Century Fox Animation Studios, leans too far down. There was another school of animation of course, the Disney school (followed by the likes of Mickey Mouse, and MGM’s Tom and Jerry). Such cartoons had no edge and were as subtle as a two by four, simple and as obvious as Huckleberry Hound. Ice Age 2 involves global warming and extinction and is, as they say on TV, “ripped from the headlines,” but it seems listless—simply a reason for the characters to move around with a deadline. I recall that for years it was difficult to animate water and fire. Clearly, the latest generation of computer animation can handle them, since water is a co-star of the film while fire is a featured guest star.

Technically, this movie is brilliant. But it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

There were a handful of funny lines scattered among the 90 minutes. Of course, feature animation is the last outpost of Hollywood that observes a strict time limit, set by the attention span of children. If only Steven Spielberg had learned something from his long association with animated cartoons at Warner Brothers, War of the Worlds might have been watchable. I mean, Orson Welles told the story in an hour.

One other note: our family had the Disney Channel as soon as it was offered, back in the 80s, when it was a premium channel and consisted mostly of old Disney Cartoons. It was then that I made what I am sure is not a terribly original observation: that most early Disney cartoons had little or no dialog. Lots of music and sound effects, but few words. This clearly enabled them to be shipped overseas with minimal effort. It also forced the animators to do visual gags, rather then vocal gags, and no doubt contributed to the lack of edge in the Disney school of animation. Most cultural references are verbal (except, of course, the remarkable caricatures featured in the old Looney Tunes).

Well, back to Ice Age 2. The funniest bits in the film are the non-verbal bits with the squirrel and the nut (if you’ve seen the preview, or Ice Age, you’ve seen this little fellow). Maybe Ice Age 3 should be just 60 minutes, and consist entirely of the squirrel looking for the nut—a Roadrunner cartoon for the 21st century. Then the lack of sophistication wouldn’t matter, because the cartoon would be truly funny. Of course, it would be harder to write.

Wow, my reviews get longer when I’m on vacation, don’t they?

630

Letters

Lasusa Links, Numerical Oddity, Dan Grobstein File

Gathered by Tom Lasusa with a little help from his friends…The Programmable Soda BottleMuslim version of Playboy MagazineEyeglasses through the agesGrover is Bitter…Screw Global Domination. Lex Luthor's really real conquest is Peanut ButterI'm Not a Fan of Evian Water, but this commercial is pretty dang cool/cuteHappy Birthday, Mister Men BooksNeed a new Bladder? Go make it yourself!...Crab Vs. PipeSandi Thom, 24, performed her music via webcast for 21 days. Page views rose to 70,000.She just got signed by Sony... I know what you're thinking: "Tom -- why hasn't someone created an online comic strip about the PowerPuff Girls as young teenagers going to a new school where the student body is comprised of older versions of various other cartoon characters such as Dexter from Dexter's Lab and Samarai Jack is a teacher at the school and they fight a consortium of mysterious villains which include Invader Zim and oh yeah, the whole thing is done in Japanime style?" Why not indeed?

Here’s Tom Lasusa’s Friday editorial…

Did Judas Really Betray Jesus, or Did Jesus Ask him To?

Very interesting article. At first I thought, Wow. This could actually mean changing the way we look at Judas. He may in fact, have been the Catholic Church's greatest unknown hero. Wouldn't it be funny if in a few years from now, the church moved to canonize him?

Then of course I realized this won't ever happen -- the Church will denounce this. Why? Because just the idea behind it suggests that Jesus used 'cheated' to achieve his goal of being sacrificed. His announcement to the diciples that "One of you will betray me" wouldn't have been from some powerful, preternatural ability to forsee His fate, but rather from prior knowledge. Such a revelation actually humanizes Jesus -- makes him less spiritual and godly -- the church will never allow that to happen.

Last Wednesday, a number of you mailed me a numerical oddity, claiming it would never happen again. Actually, it may not happen again in your lifetime, but it actually happens every 100 years (thank you Michael Jantze, author of The Norm, for passing along Pat P’s rejoinder):

01:02:03 04/05/(19)06 (3 seconds after 01:02 on 040/5/06
01:02:03 04/05/(20)06
01:02:03 04/05/(21)06
01:02:03 04/05/(22)06

Dan Grobstein File

Dan writes:

I think that the end of the world is coming soon. This week we have news of the missing link, the gospel of Judas & windows running natively on the new Intel Macs.

All we need now is some good executive branch indictments and it will push us over the edge.

I googled the phrase “the end of the world is nigh,” and found this story from London’s Guardian Newspaper. From Sept. 7, 2001.

5:00

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