PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 2 No. 38

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

November 1, 1999

Attachment is Suffering

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

  • Attachment is Suffering

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft, the NSA and You
  • Non-Compete: Not Worth The Paperů

Web Site of the Week

  • Perpetual Bubblewrap


  • Counseling Hotline
  • Deep Thoughts


  • Bringing Out The Dead
  • Fight Club (sort of)


  • Hyde Park, Hitler

General News

Attachment Is Suffering

I have been meditating quite a bit this last week on a piece of Buddhist wisdom that Vicki shared with me: attachment is suffering.

I find it applies in all kinds of ways. One shouldn't get too attached to one's home, or physical possessions, or friends (at work or anywhere else), or job, because they are all ephemeral. As Kurt Vonnegut puts it, "This too will pass." That applies to the good as well as the bad.

Of course, sometimes we develop attachments anyway, despite the certain knowledge that, someday, in some way, the attachment will cause suffering. We become attached to our animal companions, who almost always die before we do. We become attached to our children, even though they will move away and develop lives of their own. We become attached to our lovers and spouses, even though the end of that road is always shrouded in hope and mist.

I found myself particularly thinking of this as I mourned my now-broken attachment to the many, many, many talented people who have come and gone from my company, particularly in the last two years, but even over the whole 20 years I've worked there. A company comprised of the good people I have worked with, all of them staying, would be a killer. But it will never be. As one manager put it harshly, "stop mourning and get on with it." Cruel but useful advice. Mourn the past, as briefly as possible, then let it go and move on, because there are always good times ahead.

Computer Industry News

Microsoft, The NSA and You

This from Craig Reynolds:

Here is an interesting little tale:

Microsoft, the NSA, and You

I can't vouch for the organization that published it:

but it is a good story.

Yes, but as it turns out, Microsoft says it isn't true.

Non-Compete: Not Worth The Paperů

This is only tangentially computer-related; it is really about non-compete agreements, and their unenforceability (at least in New York, as in this case, and in California, where I've covered a few trials on the issue). All I'm saying here is, go ahead and sign one. It's almost not worth the paper it's written on, unless you're out in the middle of the country somewhere.

A friend writes:

Mark Schlack was Editor of Byte when they shut it down, right? Turns out he managed to beat a non-compete clause in his Earthweb contract when he moved to IDG's ITWorld. The headline from the article below is catchy, but the funny thing was they essentially argued:

1) Schlack didn't know anything that was competitive information;

2)'s marketing to "IT professionals" would make up only 2 percent of the company's revenues.

Hmmm, I'll be interested in seeing how that second one squares with the ITWorld media kit. ", the web site for IT amateurs!"

Internet Time Runs Faster, Judge Finds

Web Site of the Week

Perpetual Bubblewrap

A tip o' the Schindler hat to Roma Nowak who pointed this site out to me. I love popping bubble wrap, and found this quite enjoyable, although the sound effect is unrealistic.


Counseling Line

I'm still too busy to write for Top5 these days, so here's some other humor:

Hello, and welcome to the Counseling Center Hotline.

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly. If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you now. If you have multiple personalities, press 3,4,5 and 6. If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Stay on the line so we can trace your call.

If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship. If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a small voice will tell you which number to press. If you are a manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press - no one will answer anyway.

If you are dyslexic, press 96969696969. If you have a nervous disorder, please fidget with the star and pound keys until a representative comes on the line. If you have amnesia press 8 and state your name, address, phone number, date of birth, social security number, and your mother's maiden name.

If you have bipolar disorder, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep - or after the beep - please wait for the beep. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory, press 9.

If you have low self esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you.

Deep Thoughts

Never raise your hands to your kids.
It leaves your groin unprotected.

I'm not into working out.
My philosophy: No pain, no pain.

I am in shape. Round's a shape...

I'm desperately trying to figure out why
kamikaze pilots wore helmets.

I always wanted to be somebody,
but I should have been more specific.

Did you ever notice when you blow in a dog's face that he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car, he sticks his head out the window?

Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.

You have to stay in shape. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 today, and we don't know where she is.

The reason most people play golf is to wear clothes they would not be caught dead in otherwise.

Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together, without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.

I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there, picking the locks, they are always locking three.

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they are okay, then it's you.

Future historians will be able to study at
the Gerald Ford Library;
the James Carter Library;
the Ronald Reagan Library;
and the Bill Clinton Adult Bookstore.



Bringing Out The Dead

Facts courtesy of Internet Movie Database

Director: Martin Scorsese; Writers: Joe Connelly, Paul Schrader; Genre: Drama / Comedy / Horror; Plot Summary: Frank Pierce is a paramedic working Gotham's Hell's Kitchen. User Comments: A Big-Budget Art Film That's Definitely Worth a Glance.B+ Nicolas Cage: Frank Pierce; Patricia Arquette: Mary Burke; John Goodman: Larry; Ving Rhames: Marcus ; Rated R for gritty violent content, drug use and language. Runtime: 120.

Well, it is a drama/comedy/horror picture. This is one of the oddest ducks I have ever seen.

You know, you can go to a thousand movies and never see anything "cinematic" on the screen. Most movies are shot like television shows: very literal, realistic, linear, with every shot well-lit and properly focused. All the editing uses the same grammar established by D.W. Griffith at the turn of the century.

Then you go to an art film. You're never sure what's real and what isn't, and the lighting is weird, and the narrative isn't quite linear, and there's no story arc (in the case of Bringing Out The Dead there's almost no story).

Well, this is an art film with some big names and a big name director. It is disturbing, right at the brink of shocking. Nothing resolves. No one becomes a better person. Strictly episodic, and in that sense, I think of it as very European.

Cage plays a paramedic whose beat is Hell's Kitchen, the lower west side of Manhattan. He is losing it, a serious victim of burnout. The people he picks up keep dying and he doesn't care for that one bit. We watch him unravel. The movie is a telling indictment of stress, of night work, of drugs, of New York City.

By the way, it figures that an older director, steeped in the traditional methods of film-making (in fact, an NYU film school graduate, if I recall correctly) would be among the first users of digital effects in an art film that are 100% used in the service of the story, and not as some silly add-on.

Go see this film. Don't take the kids.

Fight Club, Sort Of

A brief note: Several people have advised me to see Fight Club. The film has frequently been paired with American Beauty (a film I liked) as a "definitive exploration of neutered American Officeworker Male rage" and sometimes also linked to Michael Douglas' 1993 film Falling Down, in which a defense worker on his way home goes postal. (which I also liked). Anyway, I'm not sure I can stand to look at it, but you should know that it has a resounding third-party endorsement.


Hyde Park, Hitler

Dan Rosenbaum builds on Ross Snyder's description of Hyde Park:

In case you thought the business of baiting politicians was something new, your brief about Hyde Park reminded me of the following:

One of the more vitriolic of Franklin Roosevelt's critics was a radio evangelist called Father Divine. In order to tweak the president, the preacher bought a place along the Hudson River, just a little downstream of Hyde Park, that had a cottage right on the river. He then painted the roof with big white letters FDR, for Father Divine's Residence....

On of my correspondents was upset that Hitler got dragged into the discussion of SensAtion last week. It was clear he didn't want his remarks reprinted, but I feel free to publish my response:

Been thinking about your rule about "leaving the room" when people start doing Nazi comparisons. I have heard something similar, called Godwin's law, "Once Hitler is mentioned, the conversation is officially over."

Although it is too late, I am sure, to save you as a correspondent, I have long disliked the coarsening of public debate, even in the smallest forums. Nothing is gained by ad hominum attacks or inappropriate yet inflammatory historical comparisons. I wouldn't post anti-Semitic, homophobic or racist remarks on my website, and I probably shouldn't let anyone drag the Nazis (or the Fascists) into a discussion either.

While a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, fairness and civilized discussion are not.

You could have chosen to say nothing and simply withdraw. By explaining your decision to drop out, you have furthered the cause of enlightenment, for which I thank you.

Actions have consequences. The commonweal is diminished when thoughtful voices are driven from our public discourse. I am not criticizing the person who compared Guiliani's art policy to Hitler's, just chiding myself for printing it.

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