PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 29

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

August 7, 2000


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

  • Doing Things Together
  • The Trouble With Copyright
  • The Counter On This Page

Computer Industry News

  • None this week

Web Site of the Week

  • Tom Lehrer: The Political Musician That Wasn't


  • The Top 16 Things Overheard at the Pitt-Aniston Wedding
  • The Top 16 Things Overheard at the Republican National Convention


  • Space Cowboy


  • The First Rain of Summer: Dalton, Nadel, my anonymous political observer.

General News

Doing Things Together

Of course there are certain activities that are best enjoyed along, such as reading, and others in which the presence of a crowd enhances the experience--watching a play or movie.

I was put in mind of this truism this week as we've had company, first Ryan Smee, Marlow's boyfriend from Columbia, then an overlap with my mother, than a few days with my mom.

With Ryan, I shared a dim sum lunch and a tour of the cable car museum. Of course one can eat dim sum alone. But the essence of the experience is variety, and the minimum serving size is three dumplings, when there are two people you can sample a wider variety of food without either pigging out, throwing food away, or dragging it around for the rest of the day. I have been meaning to go to the Cable Car museum for years, but Ryan's interest is what finally put me over the top. In both cases, and in general when sharing experiences, it was nice to have someone to discuss the experience with, as it was going on.

Thursday night, I invited David Sims, my friend and former boss, down from his aerie in Santa Rosa to join me at an SF Giants game. I haven't been to a baseball game alone… well, ever, that I can recall. What fun would that be? I mean you could discuss the game with total strangers, but why not discuss it with someone like Dave, who is smart and funny. He also took digital pictures, visible here (an utterly charming site. You may have to go backwards to get to August 2 by the time you read this).

We went to see Space Cowboys as a family (Vicki, the girls and my mother) on Friday night, and to see Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead on Sunday at the California Shakespeare Festival.

[I am acutely aware, every time I attend an event with both daughters that each time I do so might be the last for weeks, months, or years. Both are gradually working their way out of our lives--Marlow faster, at college, Rae as quickly as she can in high school.]

Plays and movies are odd communal events. During baseball you may natter continuously if that be your pleasure. At a play or movie, you may whisper an occasional comment, but for the most part you remain silent. Still, it is a shared experience, which can be savored and discussed jointly, both before and after. I love the intellectual byplay with my daughters (and in this case, my mother and my wife) on such occasions.

Saturday, Vicki and I experienced one of the sublime moments available to a couple who have been married 20 years or more--we sat together reading in the library of our home. Two pools of light. Comfortable in and comforted by each others' silent company.

The Trouble With Copyright

Whatever are we to make of copyright in a digital world? I received a vaguely threatening letter from an editor whose promotional newsletter I had reproduced, in part, in my column a few weeks ago. I took one whole item and ran it here, complete with the editor's name and e-mail ID and the URL of his web site.

I immediately pulled the material from my site and wrote him what I admit was a snippy letter. He wrote back withdrawing his objection, but since discretion is the better part of valor, I shan't mention his name, I won't be returning the content to the site, and I have no intention of ever running a plug for him or his site again.

I know when you assume, as we used to say at UPI, you make an ass of you and me, but, silly me, I assumed that, despite the copyright notice on his email newsletter, this editor hoped and intended that it would promote traffic to his site. Personally, I can't see the difference between a broadcast email and a plug in my column.

Maybe I just quoted too much of the item. It was, again, an item from a newsletter, not a whole story from the site. On a few scattered occasions, I have reprinted whole articles, when they aren't on a web page or might be difficult or expensive for you to find. In general, I try to abide by the rules of "fair use" which allow for brief quotations, especially in a non-commercial context, or when used for comment or criticism.

But frankly, this whole copyright can of worms on the Internet gives me a great big headache. And don't even get me started on plagiarism.

Well, anyway, thank heavens for the Internet, where the ink never dries and it's never too late to rewrite history.

The Counter On This Page

Some of you may have noticed that the counter at the bottom of this page was reset to 1 last week. It wasn't me! There were technical problems at the company that hosts this web page. They say they have everything under control. I just wanted you to know.

Computer Industry News

None This Week

Web Site of the Week

Tom Lehrer: The Political Musician That Wasn't

If you, like me, have always wondered why Tom Lehrer didn't hit it bigger than he did, check out this academic paper. The abstract at the top reads as follows:

Tom Lehrer could have been one of the musical giants of the '60s. He did most of his song writing in the 1950's and 60's, a time period Scheurer dubs the "new folk revival", and like other musicians of the day, Lehrer often had a message he wanted to bring to his audiences. In the mold of a political folk musician, his music was shunned by mass media; and a song of his was even once reprinted in Sing Out! Magazine, a publication that a few years later would be one of the first to spread the songs of Bob Dylan. But quite unlike contemporaries such as Dylan and Phil Ochs, who rose to fame on the wings of the New Left, Lehrer's song writing career was stifled by the changes of that era.


The Top 16 Things Overheard at the Pitt-Aniston Wedding

OK, 16th is last place, but I still made the list, for the first time in a while. At least July wasn't a shutout…

July 31, 2000


Actors Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were married in a $1 million ceremony in Malibu on Saturday.

16> "Stalking the bride or stalking the groom?"

15> "Excuse me, Mr. Pitt, but the rest of the 'Friends' cast is asking for five hundred thousand per song to appear on the dance floor."

14> "You know, if Brad's hair were a little longer, they'd BOTH kinda look like Kato Kaelin."

13> "Bridesmaids or not, that many women in seafoam green and 'Rachel' hairstyles is just plain creepy."

12> "Oh, look -- a caterer specializing in receptions for bingers and purgers!"

11> "Does this tux make my ego look big?"

10> "So beautiful, so stunning, so lovely... and Jennifer looks great, too!"

9> "Excuse me, Mr. Pitt -- the press has asked for a moment to organize their crews before the dancing bears and clowns come out so this doesn't turn into a, well, you know."

8> "Ms. Hayek, you put Mr. Norton down this instant!"

7> "If there be anyone who obj... uh, how about we skip this part?"

6> "And remember: If you don't leave your reception by midnight, you'll turn back into Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman."

5> "Call me 'Rachel' one more time and I'm gonna give you a Champagne glass enema, pretty boy."

4> "Can you hold that thought, Reverend? I *have* to take this call..."

3> "I, Brad, take thee, Jennifer, to be my... to be my... LINE!"

2> "And now Brad, place the ring on Jennifer's erect nipple and repeat after me..."

and's Number 1 Thing Overheard at the Pitt-Aniston Wedding...

1> "Wait, wait, WAIT!! *I've* got the looks -- I thought *you* had the brains!"

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]

Selected from 96 submissions from 36 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Mark Schmidt, Paris, France -- 1 (11th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 16
Chris White, New York, NY -- List owner/editor

The Top 16 Things Overheard at the Republican National Convention

I keep showing up, but I keep showing up low. Here, I ring in at 15. At this rate, I'll never make the hall of fame.

August 2, 2000
16> "Gingrich... Gingrich... I'm sorry, sir, but you're not on the list."
15> "Very important, camera operators: only shoot him from the front. When his dad sticks his hand up Junior's back, it makes his suit wrinkle."
14> "What are all these women doing here? They act like they've won the right to vote or something."
13> "Man, this spotted owl is delicious. Compliments to the chef!"
12> "Governor Bush, it's time to put your Play-Doh away and speak to the nice people in the auditorium."
11> "Is that an oil company in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?"
10> "And now, the winner of the GOP Most Valuable Player of the '90s Award... Linda Tripp!"
9> "Someone get that drink away from McCain before he brings up that 'campaign finance reform' crap again!"
8> "Sorry, sonny, but this table is for grown-ups only-- Oh! I'm sorry, Mr. Lazio!"
7> "Man, this is boring -- I'm heading over to Chuck E. Cheese's for the Reform Party convention."
6> "Well, at least when *our* guy asks for 'blow,' it doesn't involve an intern."
5> "Attention: We have another lost parent! Will Mr. and Mrs. Quayle please come to the Main Pavillion? Your son is here."
4> "Excuse me, but wasn't my registration packet supposed to contain a wad of NRA money...?"
3> "I thought they were waiters, too, but apparently they're a singing group called 'The Temptations'."
2> "Sure, I still believe in helping the poor, improving education and eliminating tax breaks for the rich -- I just really, *really* hate James Carville."
and's Number 1 Thing Overheard at the Republican National Convention...
1> "Philadelphia is called 'The City of BROTHERLY Love'?!? Did those Log Cabin guys have a hand in this?"

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]

Selected from 100 submissions from 36 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Ann Bartow, Bartow, FL -- 1 (13th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 15
Chris White, New York, NY -- List owner/editor


Space Cowboy

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

Well, it ranked among the top four movies of the weekend… all of them trailing the critically declaimed but apparently popular-with-the-people Hollow Man.

But as much as I love Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue, I love the combination of Clint Eastwood, Donald Sutherland, Tommy Lee Jones and Jame Garner better.

The performances are first rate (not enough Garner though), the special effects are seamless, and the story is a dog's breakfast. Is this something like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle at play here? Can we have two of the legs of this stool, but never the third.

I laughed so hard I cried during the funny parts. Alas, I also laughed so hard I cried during the serious parts. The plot was like swiss cheese, but with more holes in it.

Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mail scored with the best snide reviewer line, when he said the movie adds up to no more than "a few laughs and zero suspense -- a bit like spending a night watching the U.S. Republican National Convention."

OK, there wasn't much suspense, but there was a lot of entertainment. Hey, it isn't a documentary; who expects reality? Anyone above the age of 13 will enjoy this film, and anyone above 40 will enjoy it more.


The First Rain of Summer

Just at the Times of London publishes "first robin of spring" letters from the home counties (those outside Greater London), I am publishing portions of a note from my friend Richard Dalton. He is recently transplanted from San Francisco to Falmouth, Mass. where he is already discovering the people are friendlier and the weather is different.

So how are you? We've survived a couple of weeks of rainy, muggy weather. Result is the lawns are all green instead of brown this time of the year…
Had a block party on [our street] yesterday. Lots of really good folks. Turns out half of them work at the [Marine Biology Lab] in Woods Hole. Party was co-hosted by… owners of the Main Street Irish pub [in town].

Last week, I asked who Miriam Nadel is. Turns out she's a friend of a friend. Word of this column is spreading.

Well, actually you don't really know me per se, but since you asked, I found your column via Diana Ben Aaron, whose sporadic web journal I ran across because she had corresponded with me re: things I wrote in my web journal, primarily regarding travel. Like Diana (and you) I am an M.I.T. alum, but I kept closer to my M.I.T. roots and work in the aerospace industry, at least when I'm not jaunting around to various obscure and remote corners of the world. (I have the distinction of having a passport that includes stamps from such places as British Antarctic Territory, Saint Helena and Ascension Island, as well as brand new Chinese and Mongolian visas for my upcoming vacation, which also includes even more obscure parts of Russia, notably Tuva.)

I'd heard the Dorothy Parker martini poem as a followup to the Flanders and Swann song "Madeira M'deir". Namely:
Madeira, m'dear, yes but one
Or two at the very most
for three puts me under the table
and four puts me under my host.

Is McCain at it again, asks one of my more observant correspondents:

Under the actions speak louder than words category, clearly the column this week must include a video clip, or at least commentary, on Sen. McCain's RNC appearance on 8/1 beginning at the end of the speech with the wave to the crowd in front of the podium, the wave to the crowd behind the podium, and then the true but unspoken message of the evening if not the convention.
Check the tape yourself. The hand signals (made famous during the police action which could not have been a war because it was not declared by the Congress) continued even after the Vietnamese let him go.

You may not be aware that McCain gave hand signals during a forced videotaped appearance while he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam.

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