PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 17

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

May 8, 2000

Doing My Civic Duty

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

  • Jury Duty
  • Governor Bush and The Disabled
  • Instructions for Life
  • More on Elian

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft Settlement: Not Enough

Web Site of the Week

  • Ananova


  • The Top 15 Reasons to Send Elian Back to Cuba
  • The Top 14 Reasons to Keep Elian in the USA


  • Return To Me
  • I Dreamed of Africa
  • East-West


  • San Francisco: What's Up With That?

General News

Jury Duty

(Hey, wanna see a picture of Marlow? She's just to the right of Number 9 in this shot)

My heart goes out to everyone in the world--sometimes including myself--who has to write instructions that need to be followed by members of the general public.

I remember when I was running the WINDOWS Magazine CD-ROM, a quarterly CD-ROM, trying to write installation instructions that could be followed by anyone and misconstrued by no one. With each passing quarter, the instructions got longer and longer, as the buying public proved the old industry saying, "there is no such thing as idiot-proof software because idiots are so ingenious." It was as if hundreds of thousands of people were looking for every possible way to misunderstand what I wrote.

I am put in mind of this experience by the beginning of my jury duty experience. I received an envelope several weeks ago requiring me to appear for jury duty on May 3--the date was visible through a window on the envelope. I made arrangements to be away from work if required. I ducked jury duty a few times when I was younger, and I no longer feel comfortable doing that.

I opened the envelope for the first time on Monday. Imagine my surprise when I discovered, in large red letters, in at least five different places on the notice, the requirement to turn in the juror's affidavit within five days of receipt of the notice. That would be, oh, two weeks ago. In smaller type, it said you were automatically assumed to be coming, even if you didn't return the affidavit. Panicked, I called the office. After only 25 minutes on hold, I reached a bemused clerk. "We get a lot of calls like this," she said. She "qualified" me by phone.

On May 2, I called the automated system at 5:30 p.m., and was told to call again on May 3, between 11:30 and noon to see if I had to serve at 1 p.m. or later. Damn, I have baseball tickets…

Turned out OK though, because I called at 11:30 and they didn't need me. Got to the game just a few minutes late.

Gov. Bush and The Disabled

Richard Dalton pointed this out to me. Click on the headline to see the full story.

APRIL 19, 2000
Criticism of your stands on disability issues is mounting. But sadly, you won't address it. Don't you care?

Dear Governor Bush,

Five months ago, I approached you, Vice-President Al Gore, former Democratic Senator Bill Bradley, and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to learn where the candidates stood on issues affecting people with disabilities. In less than a month, Gore agreed to an interview, and on Dec. 31, he spent 30 minutes with me answering questions (see BW Online, 1/5/00,
"Q&A with Al Gore: Using Technology to Connect the Disabled"). The interview was widely read and widely disseminated on the Internet.

Senator John McCain's staff told me, "Ride the Straight Talk Express," so I did, going to New Hampshire to ride the bus with the GOP challenger. I will always remember walking side-by-side down a long school hallway asking John McCain where he stood on disability issues. He was candid, forthright, and looked me straight in the eye. The interview was well received by readers, and again widely disseminated (see BW Online, 2/2/00,
"McCain: 'We Must Put the Disabled to Work'").

Former Senator Bradley's staff did not have any interest in disability issues. They said that right up front. You see how far it got him.

POSTPONED. As for you, Governor, your campaign staff urged me to prepare for an interview in Austin during the third week in January. I did that. The interview was postponed until after the New Hampshire primary. After New Hampshire, the interview was put on the schedule again, but postponed until after the South Carolina primary. After South Carolina, it was postponed until after Michigan. Then, it was postponed until your staff could educate you on disability issues.

A date was set and then canceled because you were out raising money. Another possible date was set, but the meeting was called off. Yet another interview was canceled because you were campaigning and raising money. Seven times, Governor, your staff has scheduled an interview and then canceled it at the last moment. Seven times.

Then, after all that, the Bush people just told him it wasn't going to happen. Doesn't bespeak well of Dubbya's positions--if any--on disabled issues.

Instructions for Life

Forwarded by a friend:

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs:
Respect for self
Respect for others and
Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

More on Elian

This analysis was offered on the "oldtimers" mailing list I subscribe to that includes current and former UPI reporters. It rings true.

They just want to run Miami like they used to run Cuba. There, they pissed off so many of the folks they considered their 'inferiors' that Castro and his boys actually mustered enough support to oust their man Batista and run their arrogant asses off the island. In the process, [Castro] grabbed all their property and usurped the arrogant ass role. (though his arrogance is doctrinal so, of course, he doesn't dress as well.)
Remember, the generational dream for a lot of the Cuban Americans is to go back and take over again, reassuming their wealth and power. That's why normalization of relations raises their hackles. They don't want normalization of relations. In fact, they would really like to provoke a war -- a US invasion and capture of the island, and of course, its hand over to them. They're a lot like the Czarist aristocracy in the years after Russian revolution. They want it all back.

I would like to add again that I think Castro is an evil, vile dictator who is doing awful things to his people. There is some question about whether he's worse than Batista, but no question he is evil incarnate.

Computer Industry News

Microsoft Settlement: Not Enough

OK, by popular demand, here's my take on the government remedy. It's about right, and may work, but if anything, it isn't quite enough. It certainly isn't the end of the world, which you'd think it was from the way Microsoft is screaming and yelling. I guess no one in Redmond ever heard the story of the boy who cried wolf.

Microsoft did violate the antitrust laws, as a preponderance of people who have spent 10 minutes in the business not on their payroll is aware. They have an operating system monopoly. That's legal. They used it to gain power in the browser market. That's illegal. They used it to stifle innovation. That's illegal too--and it makes their touch-feely TV commercials about, "We just want to be left alone to innovate and help all of you" rather hypocritical.

The two-company split proposed by the government is a reasonable and proportional response. It just may not be enough. The other choices were to do nothing or "structural remedies" are both much worse ideas. I am not yet convinced that the operating system/application company split is the best idea.

Two companies wasn't the only remedy available; the government could have asked for three "Baby Bills," each with a full range of products. That would have run the risk of a splintered Windows operating system and more consumer harm than benefit. There's a proposal brewing in Washington, D.C. for a friend of the court brief proposing splitting Microsoft into 14 companies. That would certainly end the firm's monopoly power.

The DOJ proposal isn't the end of the line on proposed remedies. Microsoft, of course, gets to propose one, but they will almost certainly propose a remedy of no remedy at all. Several groups of attorneys and economists will probably bring alternative proposals to the court as well. The game is not yet up, and the best remedy may still lie ahead.

Web Site of the Week


The simulated digital newscaster of the future. Interesting and amusing, and maybe she will replace Dan Rather. After all, you'll never wonder if she's about to snap and start spraying the studio with machine gun bullets--a concern I always have when I watch Dan, who seems to me to be just a little too tightly wound for his own good.


The Top 15 Reasons to Send Elian Back to Cuba

OK, it's a three-way tie for 13th, but at least I'm back on the list again after a too-long absence. And at least one reader thought my entry should have ranked higher (thanks Barry!)

May 2, 2000
15> To allow hundreds of Florida lawyers to go back to their REAL work -- bilking seniors out of their life savings.
14> To squelch that nagging feeling that he left the iron on.
13> He can't hit his weight, his curveball is erratic, and he runs the bases like a six year old.
12> Siding with Castro for this long is starting to give majority of Americans a rash.
11> Forgot to say "Simon says" so he's gotta start all over again.
10> Cuteness quota here already at dangerous levels until the Olsen twins turn 30.
9> One well-timed travel embargo and 60-70% of the U.S. media is stuck in Havana.
8> Hey, someone has to go forth and spread the Gospel of Pokeman.
7> Michael Jackson seen lurking in the vicinity with a suitcase full of stuffed monkeys.
6> Just to piss off Gloria Estefan.
5> So Miami diner owners can create an "Elian on a Raft" special with a clear conscience.
4> 'Cause that little Commie sissy's afraid of guns!!!
3> It's required by the Coast Guard's catch and release program.
2> Needed for the role of Tiny Tim in the Cuban Thespians Guild production of "An Easter Carol."
and's Number 1 Reason to Send Elian Back to Cuba...
1> Just on the off chance that Marisleysis' head might explode on live national TV.
[ The Top 5 List ] [ Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]
Selected from 130 submissions from 50 contributors. Today's Top 5 List authors are: -----------------------------------------------------
Peg Warner, Exeter, NH -- 1 (9th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 13
Matt Siske, Dayton, OH -- 13
Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, VA -- 13 (Hall of Famer)

The Top 14 Reasons to Keep Elian in the USA

Two in one week! Check out No. 10--one of my Macarena submissions!

May 3, 2000
14> Millions already spent promoting new national motto: "America -- Overthrowing Castro One Rugrat at a Time!"
13> Have Donato catch four more, and we can do our own version of Menudo.
12> George Lucas has already cast him in "Episode II" as El-El, a character "just like Jar-Jar only 95% less annoying."
11> Summertime shots of Marisleysis romping on the beach in her bikini if the boy stays. Narf!
10> The U.S. Olympic Macarena Team needs an anchor.
9> The NY Yankees still need a Cuban shortstop to collect the whole set.
8> That curly-haired girl in the Pepsi commercials needs a date for the MTV Movie Awards.
7> He's just been signed to star in the new Latino sitcom, "Elian in the Middle."
6> Somebody's gotta draw "Peanuts" for the next 50 years.
5> Away from the clutches of Castro, he'd be free to do whatever his relatives tell him to do.
4> Kathie Lee's got a supervisor position waiting for him.
3> There's gonna be a Bronco chase somewhere down the line, no?
2> Throw in a few magic dolphins and PRESTO! Instant Sea World exhibit!
and's Number 1 Reason to Keep Elian in the USA...
1> Haley Joel Osment's already 12, and he ain't getting any cuter.
[ The Top 5 List ]
[Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]
Selected from 130 submissions from 49 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Jonathan D. Colan, Miami, FL -- 1 (18th #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 10


Return To Me

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.

Well, I guess this is what makes horse races. Rae and I saw Return to Me and concluded that the central conflict was so weak and unlikely that it could barely stagger across the screen. I don't think it's a spoiler to tell you that Minnie Drive receives David Duchovny's dead wife's heart. We found it extremely unlikely that a woman would have so much trouble telling the man she was dating that she'd had a heart transplant.

When we got home, however, Vicki told us that it was, in fact, quite likely, that transplant patients often feel guilty, and would quite likely feel uncomfortable around the husband of a donor.

In any case, there's a sentimental open and a sentimental conclusion, and in between is about 100 minutes of mildly entertaining, highly predictable PG-related movie-type material. Bonnie Hunt dreamed up the story, co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film, and also does a nice turn as the female co-star. There are some lovely secondary performances in this lovely secondary film. Sweet, mildly entertaining, not spectacular.

I Dreamed Of Africa

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Sometimes the critics are right. Beautiful scenery. Boring slow-moving plot. Why is it the Europeans do this sort of thing so much better than us? Rated PG-13 for about 10 seconds of SBE (side breast exposure) by Kim Basinger, who is certainly part of the scenery throughout. Also, some dorsal nudity by Vincent Pérez. Plus some gory dead animal scenes. I am sure Kuki Gallmann's life was very interesting. The movie based on her book isn't, really. Beautiful scenery though. A little long at 114 minutes.


You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.

If isn't every day you see a film spoken in French and Russian with English subtitles, co-produced by Bulgaria, France, Russia and Spain. East-West is such a film. You've probably never seen any of these people before, but they tell a compelling story. If you've forgotten, for even a moment, why we fought the cold war, this movie will bring it home you in very human terms, as it demonstrate the total inhumanity of the Soviet Union. Frightening cruelty, committed thoughtlessly against the innocent. A very scary film that is, in the end, uplifting because of the central love story.

Interesting to see this film the day after seeing I Dream Of Africa. The first hour of this film is like reading a bus schedule or watching paint dry. Things happen, but they don't hang together and there doesn't seem to be much of a plot. By the end of the film, your breath is taken away. Sometimes, a great ending is worth waiting for. At exactly 120 minutes, it's on the edge of too long, Maybe reading all those subtitles kept me from noticing the length. Gosh, spoken French sounds beautiful.

Rated PG-13 for violence and brief sensuality. And they do mean brief.

If you don't mind subtitles, never had much use for Stalin and want so see an implausibly wonderful romance, give this film a shot.


More on SF

My friend David Lazar wrote:

I was in SF this weekend, but I was so busy with work (and following my client around on a very nefarious pub crawl) that I didn't get to call you.
Impressions of SF...I have never seen that many panhandlers, whores, drug dealers, street people and various deviants in one place in my life - and that is coming from someone who experienced NYC in all its glory in the 1970's. As is said today; "What's Up With That!"
Besides that, SF is very nice. (And I really am a very tolerant person.)

I know David pretty well, and he is pretty tolerant. Maybe I've just gotten used to it around here (and as I wrote back to David, I remember New York being worse in the last 70s and early 80s than SF is now). But I wonder if anyone out there has some theories on this. Maybe it's the better weather out here? Funny thing is, a lot of people say Mayor Willie Brown is being too hard on the indigent, moving them out of tourist areas. I doubt David spent much time in the neighborhoods.

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