PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 2 No. 29

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

August 9, 1999

A Living Or A Life?

I have a day job, so I need to make it clear to anyone who comes here that the opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of my employer, my family, or your great-aunt Mathilda. Offer not valid in Wisconsin. You must enter to win.

Table of Contents:

General News

  • After The Buyout
  • The Last Laugh

Computer Industry News

  • Briefs: Bad News for SGI, Microsoft

Web Site of the Week

  • The Onion


  • Supposedly Real Air Force Humor
  • Rejected Superheroes: Paul Makes The Top 5 List


  • Briefs: Runaway Bride, The Thomas Crowne Affair and Mystery Men


  • None to speak of

General News

After The Buyout

An old professional friend of mine was recently bought out (there's a lot of that going on these days in the computer industry), and his package was big enough that he seriously doesn't have to work another day in his life. I wrote to ask what he's doing next. He wrote back saying a) he stopped in at from time to time, b) he wasn't sure what to do next and c) what did I suggest? Here's my answer (with a few elisions to protect his identity:

Thanks for stopping in at In a few weeks, my hand should be visible at since management just asked me to run that site as well.

As for the question of kicking back, my friend [a reader of this newsletter] gave himself a year after he was bought out. Might not be a bad idea to experience the family in all seasons before putting your nose back to the grindstone.

If it were me deciding what to do next (and unless the IPO of our Internet properties goes very well, it never well be), I'd consider devoting my life to philanthropy, something I have been prevented from doing by the need to make a living. Schindlers, through history, have worked like dogs, stayed in the harness until the day they day and typically die in debt. It appears possible I will be the first one in history to break the pattern (and with two daughters, quite possibly the last).

Michael Pritchard, once a fast-rising comedian and now devoted full time to helping youth in trouble, put it well in the SF Sunday Examiner and Chronicle today: "You make a living from what you get from others, but you make a life by what you give to others.''

I am seriously considering high school teaching as my next career. I've already taken the CBEST test (and, I am proud to say, passed it handily), the minimum requirement for an emergency teaching credential in California. In a few years, the teacher shortage here will be an emergency.

Frankly, if the Byte (and now Winmag) jobs hadn't come along, I'd have probably considered bailing. I'm intrigued and committed enough now to stick around for a while and see if I really have what it takes to be an editor. But after 20 years of expecting to do this job for 40 years, that's no longer what I expect.

The Last Laugh

OK, let's see a show of hands. Is there anyone reading this who didn't know that it is illegal to tape record telephone conversations under some circumstances? I didn't think so. As it happens, this is an area where the states are allowed to make the laws. While it is perfectly legal to record a conversation in California with the consent of only one party, it is a felony to do so in Maryland unless both parties know the recording is being made.

As far as I know, there is a tiny bit of ambiguity when you cross state borders (a Californian calling a Marylander), but even when it isn't illegal, it is a sleazy tactic.

As it turns out, while ignorance of the law is generally no excuse, it is an excuse in Maryland when it comes to wiretapping. Regardless, Linda Tripp knew it was illegal to wiretap Monica Lewinsky. She had been told. There are witnesses. She knowingly broke the law. I broke out the champagne to celebrate when this sleaziest of "friends" was indicted recently in Maryland.

Kenneth "Torquemada" Starr, initiator of some of the most baseless and politically motivated prosecutions in American history has not weighed in yet on the subject of Tripp's indictment. Of course, he's already rewarded her betrayal of her friend with federal immunity, but his slimy deal doesn't bind Maryland prosecutors.

Among Starr's gaffes, of course, was the most baseless prosecution of the century, the Clinton impeachment. He acted as the extra-constitutional grand jury and prosecutor--his hand was up Henry Hyde's butt as surely as Frank Oz's hand is up Miss Piggie's. Were Starr to comment honestly, he would no doubt say, if he weren't the handmaiden of the Republican right--"the law is the law. This is a clear violation. It must be prosecuted." He proved to us that motivation doesn't count, so let's hoist him and his buddies on their own petard. I can't wait for the trial.

While we're on the subject of good news from the political world, let me dance a jig of joy at the latest Newt News. Old Newtie's been keeping a low profile, raking in the dough from the lecture circuit since he took the fall for the R's bonehead impeachment strategy (looking forward to those chickens coming home to roost). Word came last week that he's divorcing his second wife.

Now I wish ill of no man when it comes to marriage. I'm proud of my 20 years and hoping for 20 more. But Newt dumped his first wife in the ugliest possible way: cheated on her, served her divorce papers in the hospital while she was recovering from cancer and stiffed her on child support. All this happened before he was in the public eye, so a lot of people either haven't heard of it or don't believe it.

Well, character tells, and he's not exactly being a loving husband to his second wife. And this time, we're all watching. The statement from his office called it a mutual decision. The statement she made was "I'm sorry Newt decided he had to do this." It doesn't get much clearer than that. Hey, Newt: if she doesn't want a divorce, don't lie to us and say she does! But then the real difference between Newt and Bill is that when Bill lies, he gets caught.

Computer Industry News

Briefs: Bad News For SGI, Microsoft

It's an all Craig Reynolds section this week. My faithful correspondent turned in these two items:

SGI put out a bunch of press releases today about new Intel-based servers and support for Linux, but it looks like this from CNET (which was not based on an SGI press release) was the SGI story of the day:

SGI cutting back key projects

I guess its not over til its over, but this has a strong end-of-an-era smell to it. Not a surprise but still a shock.


This is amusing. Because of a bug in MS Word, lawyers using it have been submitting legal briefs which violate the rules covering such documents. A three-judge panel recently told Microsoft to fix their bug.

Court Has a Nasty Word for MS

Web Site of the Week

The Onion

Simply one of the funniest humor sites on the web, week in and week out, especially because of its spot-on parody of newspaper writing style. For a big dose of this clever conceit, buy a copy of Our Dumb Century.

I was reminded of the site by a note from a friend who recommended this interesting view of the Sony robotic dog.

A parody that simultaneously makes fun of USA Today and the robotic dog concept!


Supposedly Real Air Force Humor

As I have noted before in this space, it makes made-up stuff much funnier if you claim it is real, so take the claim of this author with a grain of salt. Still, these grack me up every time I read them. Even if they are phony, they funny.

"Squawks" are problems noted by U. S. Air Force pilots and left for maintenance crews to fix before the next flight. Here are some actual maintenance complaints logged by those Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews:

> (P) = Problem
> (S) = Solution
> (P) Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
> (S) Almost replaced left inside main tire.
> (P) Test flight OK, except auto land very rough.
> (S) Auto land not installed on this aircraft.
> (P) # 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
> (S) # 2 propeller seepage normal - # 1, # 3, and # 4 propellers lack normal seepage.
> (P) Something loose in cockpit.
> (S) Something tightened in cockpit.
> (P) Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
> (S) Evidence removed.
> (P) DME volume unbelievably loud.
> (S) Volume set to more believable level.
> (P) Dead bugs on windshield.
> (S) Live bugs on order.
> (P) Autopilot in altitude hold mode produces a 200 fpm descent.
> (S) Cannot reproduce problems on ground.
> (P) IFF inoperative.
> (S) IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
> (P) Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
> (S) That's what they're there for.
> (P) Number three engine missing.
> (S) Engine found on right wing after brief search.
> (P) Aircraft handles funny.
> (S) Aircraft warned to straighten up, "fly right," and be serious.
> (P) Target Radar hums.
> (S) Reprogrammed Target Radar with the words

Paul Makes Top 5

For space reasons, I have left off the full credits, but you can find them at the site.

I submitted No. 4 on this list

[ T H E T O P F I V E L I S T ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White All rights reserved. Do not forward, publish, broadcast, or use in any manner without crediting "The Top 5 List at" ]
August 6, 1999

The Top 14 Rejected Superheroes

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White ]

14> Amazing-Knowledge-of-the-Constellations Man

13> Oral Girl

12> The Haberdasher

11> Knows-the-Second-Verse-to-the-Star-Spangled-Banner Man

10> Halitosia

9> Decorative Gourd Man

8> Omelet Makin' Man

7> The Sniveler

6> PMS Woman and her faithful sidekick, Yeasty Girl

5> Talks-To-Himself-And-Gives-Everyone-The-Willies Lad

4> Beautiful From The Neck Down Woman

3> Captain Lithuania

2> Scalding-Hot-Chicken-Soup-Upside-The-Head Man

and's Number 1 Rejected Superhero...

1> The Cuddler



If there were facts, they would be here, (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).

I knew I'd start running out of time with the new job, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon. Well, there was also the weekend trip to the Mother Lode taken by Marlow, Vicki and I this weekend. We hiked around Pincrest Lake, saw the crafts fair in Twain Harte and stayed in the City Hotel in the Columbia State Park. We also saw the other Columbia College (in Columbia, California), a community college that awards associates degrees. We have a cute picture of Marlow by the sign.

While we were there, Marlow and I saw The Thomas Crowne Affair and Mystery Men at the Sonora five-plex. I only dimly remember the original Thomas Crowne affair with Faye Dunaway (who makes a cute cameo in this film) and Steve McQueen, but frankly Pierce Brosnan and Kristina Russo have quite a romp with the material--and yes, I am pretty sure that's his butt and her breasts you see. No foul language, a few seconds of non-pornographic on-screen sex and a quite clever caper film in between. Marlow and I both liked it.

Mystery Men, based on a comic book I have never seen, was not as funny as you would expect from a film with Ben Stiller and Janeanne Garofalo (especially if you have heard them on the radio promoting their new book or read excerpts). These two people are really funny, and capable of being funnier than they are in this ensemble-cast effort. The visual effects, of course, are without peer. Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), nearly unrecognizable in acne makeup and wearing somewhat normal clothes, continues to show his comic mettle in this film. W.H. Macy shows an unexpected aptitude for straight-face humor. Maybe he's the Leslie Nielsen of the new millenium. Hank Azaria, a voice talent on the Simpsons who had a minor role in Godzilla does an amusing turn as the Blue Raj, a fork-throwing "hero." I am sure the plot was true to the comic book. It just didn't make a very interesting movie. Some cute moments, not a movie. Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing essentially has a cameo, no matter what the previews suggest. Geoffrey Rush joins the long line of great actors who get to chew scenery in villain roles (extending at least as far back as Jack Nicholson as the Joker and extending to Rupert Everett as The Claw in Inspector Gadget, reviewed here last week.

Runaway Bride was the long-awaited re-pairing of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere with director Garry Marshall, the team that brought us Pretty Woman. It was an OK film (I can see why it was 10 years in the making--pretty difficult plot). I was struck by a comment Marlow made: "I don't like Julia Roberts anymore." "It's just a role," I said. "Yeah, but she picks the roles. She was mean to Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, then came back and he took her back, now she's mean to Richard Gere and comes back and he takes her back. First of all, in both cases, they should have told her to bugger off when she returned. Secondly, I just don't like people who act like that." Watch it Julia, make another film like this and you could be looking at a typecasting problem. Anyone can see this film; it is clean and relatively wholesome, and the ultimate messages about love and marriage are actually pretty sound. The question is whether it's worth $7.50. You might want to wait for the video.


None To Speak Of

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