PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 18

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

May 15, 2000

Marlow's Home!

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

  • Movie or Reading
  • Letter From New York
  • Private Eye, The British Magazine
  • Al Gore, Joke Thief

Computer Industry News

  • Microsoft Innovation
  • Dumb Virus Coverage

Web Site of the Week

  • Too Damn Many Swooshes


  • Vocabulary for the 00s
  • State Mottoes


  • None


  • Food for Thought

General News

Movie or Reading

On several occasions recently, I've had to choose between going out to see a movie I am mildly interested in seeing, or sitting at home reading. I have an unusually large backup of books I am interested in reading, so I chose reading. While the two pleasures are quite different, I find I can really enjoy an evening at home, curled up with a good book. A sign of age? Perhaps, but not one I fear. I think the 27 films I've seen this year (and the two I plan to see this weekend) are a goodly number.

Letter from New York

Marlow writes of her last week at school:

I had a phenomenally cool day and I never got farther than four blocks from campus.
I started by waking up at the crack of dawn to finish studying for my Anthropology exam. It turned out to be all multiple choice. It started at 9 and I got out a little after 10. I was way over prepared, but that's a good thing because I didn't do so hot on a couple tests earlier in the semester, and I'd like to get an A, which it looks like I will.
…Then I had a racquetball game at 2. It was the championship women's game. It was me against this girl from my class Nicole. She's really cool, unfortunately she's a senior and she's graduating in a week. She has a twin sister. She kicked my ass. Actually this was better than the last time I played her. We split games last time, but then she killed me in the last game. This time I held my own in both games. We played a third game just for fun, since we were already there and all. I won by two points.
It's a park behind St John the Divine. It's really cool. I didn't know anything existed back there. I guess I should start from the beginning though.
Reina took us through the cathedral proper to the back left were we exited out of this non-descript door into the area where things are still under construction. We circled around behind the steps we walked down and there was another door. It led under the cathedral, more specifically under the chorus.
There was a stage set up and all kind of random artifacts and cornerstones and what not. Apparently there's a dance troupe that performs down there. There were a couple people around, but when you couldn't see or hear them it felt all cool and secretive.
We exited the way we came in when we were done exploring and Reina lead us around another part of the cathedral past school children in matching white polo shirts and navy blue shorts. Apparently there is a "Cathedral" school associated with St John. I couldn't tell if it was elementary school or more of a day care kind of thing. They were really little kids.
Anyway, Ryan and I were already impressed by everything, then Reina insisted we come to see the Rose Garden. It was like walking though a book, The Secret Garden to be exact. It was so cool. We ended up in this overgrown lush garden we never knew existed. We haven't asked Reina about it yet, but we're both pretty sure she's a nymph.
She actually had some more errands to run so she left us to explore by ourselves and ran off. But she wasn't gone for more than five minutes when we heard her call to us. We joined her where she was standing to find a peacock in full display. It was really awesome. He was displaying for every bird that came his way- be it pigeon or sparrow, there are no peahens as the cathedral. It was comical, and yet vaguely depressing. It really was a beautiful bird. Blue neck, green feathers. And he even rattled them so they made a cool noise and swelled them occasionally so you got the full effect as it moved from a semi-dome to a fan shape.
…We walked back to campus together and I came back here to study for my last final. Instead I ended up watching Moonlighting with Gil in the common area. What a great show! Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd? How did that show ever go off the air, it was brilliant. I watched two episodes and I'm in love.
… We went and saw Gladiator the night before for the air-conditioned movie theater, but last night I suggested we just go to Butler Library. It was really crowded with finals studiers. So we decided to try and get into the stacks where it's never as crowded, but also not as comfortable. (see Ghostbusters) The stacks were locked, but we went up to the ninth floor anyway.
We got a pleasant surprise when we went up the last flight of stairs to find that the door to the roof was open. It's normally got an alarm on it. We went out on the roof and looked down over the whole campus. It was really cool. We had a great view of Low, the plaza, the steps, south lawn, Van Am Quad, Furnald, etc. Basically we could see everything. And on the other side we had the Greeks and the city of New York stretched before us. It somehow seemed consistent with the adventures behind St Johns earlier in the day. We went around the perimeter and tried to get into the hut on the roof, but it was locked. Eventually we made our way back down.

Private Eye, The British Magazine

I subscribe to the British humor magazine Private Eye. I ran into it on my trips to England back in the 70s and 80s. I loved it. After my last trip, in 1985, I realized, "Hey, I don't have to be in England to read this." At about the same time I realized I didn't have to be on an airplane or in a doctor's office to read the New Yorker, and I have been subscribing to both ever since.

I have often wondered why America can't sustain a long-running political humor publication like this. I subscribed to National Lampoon from start to finish--actually through all three of its failures.

I was also a subscriber of Spy, which consciously modeled itself after Private Eye, down to its habit of giving people nicknames like Max "Hitler" Hastings of the Telegraph and Andrew "Brillo Pad" Neill, former editor of the Times. (Now that United News and Media owns my company, I live in minor dread of meeting our chairman, Lord Hollick, and being unable to shake thoughts of his unflattering Private Eye nickname, which I shan't repeat here.).

Like National Lampoon, Spy burned white hot, then sputtered out, suffering not one but two deaths. Why oh Why, as Private Eye itself would ask, can't America support a humor magazine other than Mad? Well, of course, the Brits had Peter Cook (as in Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, as in Bedazzled) underwriting their humor habits for decades, a role now undertaken by his widow, since Cookie has gone on to meet his maker. Maybe underwriting vicious satirical humor is a role Bill Gates could take on as a second career.

I kid.

Al Gore, Joke Thief

Al Gore has been using jokes from the Top5 list, the Internet humor cooperative I contribute to, without credit. In particular, he used a joke of mine that was a runner-up (it didn’t even make the list!) of Jewish Country and Western Songs:

"My Foot's On The Glass, Where Are You?"

For a guy whose whole knowledge of Jewish wedding customs comes from attending a half-dozen friends' weddings, I thought the joke wasn't bad. I told a reporter for the Chicago Tribune I'd write jokes directly for Al if he asked me. So far, no one's called.

Computer Industry News

Microsoft Innovation

Craig Reynolds brought this to my attention. I wrote the author and received his permission to reprint it here. Hat's off to Craig and everyone in the forwarding chain who did not strip off the source/credit information, an encouraging new trend I'm seeing in Internet forwards that may mean we'll get credit for our words in the new millennium, even if we don't get paid for them.

Alas, after I finished my column, I realized this section was way too long. So here are some excerpts; click here to read the whole thing.

Microsoft Has Long Carried A Big Stick To Bludgeon Innovators
by Phillip Robinson at Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
It is particularly galling to see how much of DOS, Windows and Office have come from other innovative companies and then to hear Microsoft talk about its technology savvy and how it needs to be free to innovate.
Microsoft ought to apologize and change its ways, though I get the impression that Microsoft has been getting its way for so long, has been told it's wonderful for so long, that the company literally doesn't understand what it's done wrong.
Newspapers and magazines ought to get off their behinds and start reporting on what's happening inside business, not just on the week's latest millionaire. And the rest of us ought to wonder why we feel so warmly toward a company that cheats its way to success.

Dumb Virus Coverage

Glen, a friend of mine in the computer business, was upset about the crummy coverage of the recent virus scare.

Glen Speckert

Why do they call these recent exploitations of Microsoft Outlook weaknesses "computer viruses"? They did not affect MacOS, BeOS, Linux, nor Solaris or IRIX. Only Windows and NT systems running Outlook. Yet this is almost never reported.
Why aren't they called "Microsoft viruses"? or "Microsoft Outlook viruses" ?
Just because they're a monopoly doesn't mean that they are synonomous with the term "computer". And Outlook is different than e-mail.
I didn't see a single "I LOVE YOU" from Eudora on a Mac.
It just seems amazing to me that reporters don't report the facts.
Seems like they should tell people that it's a Microsoft Outlook bug. Even knowing this fact, when I read some articles, they never mention it. In the technical articles, of course, it is well documented what the problem was. But listening to CNN or reading any of the press, one would never know.
The virus was very specific of what files it attacked. Files like "Win32DLL". These files really aren't found in any operating system but Windows. The method used to propogate was specific to Microsoft Outlook's address book.
The reason that it is important to call this a Microsoft Virus rather than a Computer Virus is that the general population will at least know that if they were not using Microsoft Outlook, it wouldn't have replicated from their e-mail. And that if they weren't using Windows, it wouldn't have hit them at all.
This would be incentive to move away from security challenged products.
But everyone knows that "Computer Viruses" are something that "everyone" must deal with... At least give the public the knowledge that they don't have to put up with it... Get off the Microsoft Bandwagon, and get away from the Microsoft Viruses.
In a post-monopoly world, there may be Mac viruses, or Java viruses (although the Java language has a very tight security model), and there will still be mostly Microsoft Viruses. But to simply call them all Computer Viruses only perpetuates the monopolistic mindset.
As an example over the next few years, only by reporting 142 Microsoft Viruses and 6 Mac Viruses and 7 Linux Viruses, will the public will get a sense of the security of each system, rather than reporting 155 Computer Viruses. The current most likely scenario is that 142 Computer Viruses would get reported.

Web Site of the Week

Too Damn Many Swooshes

Note that our very own CMP logo shows up here. A searing… well searingly funny… collection of overswooshed Internet logos.

This site, in turnm points at a satirical look at modern Internet branding and commercialization called Enormicon.


Vocabulary for the 00s

Not a Top 5 list I made, but unusually good humor emailed to me by a friend.

Early 00's Vocabulary

SITCOMs: What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids. Stands for: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

TOURISTS: People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. Example: "We had three serious students in the class; the rest were just tourists."

CHIPS AND SALSA - Chips = hardware, salsa = software. i.e.: "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa."

IRRITAINMENT - Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials, Ally McBeal, Monica Lewinsky, etc.

DEINSTALLED - Euphemism for being fired.

YUPPIE FOOD STAMPS - The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal: "We owe $8 each, but all anybody's got are yuppie food stamps."

ASSMOSIS - The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss.

BLAMESTORMING - Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who is responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps over everything and then leaves.

SALMON DAY - The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream, only to get screwed and die in the end.

CHAINSAW CONSULTANT - An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee head count, leaving the brass with clean hands.

FLIGHT RISK - Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave the company or department soon.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE - The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

UMFRIEND - A sexual relation of dubious standing or a concealed intimate relationship, as in "This is Bridget, my ... um ...friend."

MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the Couch Potato.

State Mottoes

New State Mottos (Part I)

New State Mottos (Part II)

These are REALLY funny Top 5 lists.. Here's a few samples:

6> Alabama: Like the third world, but closer.

4> Florida: Hey you kids, get off of my state!

13> Idaho: You Can Be Da Ho Next!

12> Washington: Come for the Protests -- Stay for the Coffee!


None this week

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


Food for Thought

This from Joe Brancatelli

From a David Crosby song on the otherwise awful new Crosby, Stills, Nash &Young album (Looking Forward) I'm trying to digest in the background today:

I am uncomfortable lying to a child
Seems like setting a trap for something wild
Seems like building you house on the sand
And expecting the ocean to let it stand...

Just seemed like a good sentiment for a rainy Saturday

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