PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 36

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

October 2, 2000

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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

  • Marlow on Warren Buffet

Computer Industry News

  • idealab! Can't! Take! A! Joke!
  • Microsoft and Its Lawyers
  • More Smart Talk About MP3

Web Site of the Week

  • Covert Operatives


  • The Top 16 Ways Anna Nicole Smith Will Spend Her $449 Million
  • Blind Faith


  • Almost Famous


  • Embracing Leading Edge Bandwidth; The Fantasticks

General News

Marlow on Warren Buffet

I saw Hillary speak this morning. She, Warren Buffet, and Robert Rubin were all speakers for a Business School/Campus Democrats lecture series. They sent out a phone message last night. I couldn't get anyone to go with me because it was at 9 in the morning (people suck) but I'm glad I went by myself. I think the speakers were told they'd only be addressing grad students so the speeches were more economically substantive with less flare, but it was still interesting. I had to leave before the end of Q&A to get to Anthro, but it was a good series. I'm not sure exactly who Warren Buffet is, but he was really funny and gave good arguments in favor of the death tax.

Interesting to see that Warren Buffet can impress someone who doesn't know he's America's smartest investor and one of the richest men in the country.

But I wish she'd said more about his arguments for the estate tax/death tax, because I haven't heard one that makes any sense since the passage of the 16th amendment in 1913, legalizing the income tax. All of the money's already been taxed once folks, and while I find most Republican drivel vile, I think they're right when they say death should not be a taxable event.

Computer Industry News

Idealab! Can't! Take! A! Joke!

From the ever-vigilant Craig Reynolds:

Apparently Idealab was annoyed when its front page was parodied by FuckedCo as reported by Wired. I didn't realize it at first but apparently the parody replaced the client company logos on Idealab's page with those they consider "fucked".

Microsoft And Its Lawyers

This came from Infobeat, and I'm not sure the person who sent it to me wants to be identified. Makes interesting reading, I think:

The U.S. Supreme Court gave Microsoft a victory on Tuesday, agreeing with the giant software company that its appeal of antitrust violations should first be heard by a lower appellate court. Of the nine high court members, only Justice Stephen Breyer dissented from the full court's action. He said the case "significantly affects an important sector of the economy." Chief Justice William Rehnquist declined to recuse himself from the Microsoft case, even though the company has hired a law firm in Boston for which his son works. Rehnquist's son is working on a private antitrust case for Microsoft.

More Smart Talk about MP3

Larry Yaeger is an old friend of Craig Reynolds. They met through shared interests in computer graphics and artificial life.

I wrote:

Brilliant speech. Dramatically increased my opinion of Courtney Love, and explains the problems with the music industry quite clearly and succinctly.

Larry Responded:

As far as addressing Napster vs. CD sales, Jupiter Communications, a very reputable data acquisition and analysis firm, has documented the fact that Napster users are 45% more likely to purchase CDs than non-Napster users..
And even the old, biased report paid for by the recording industry to shore up their claims about losses due to Napster, that claims that CD sales have dropped 4% since 1998 near college campuses (hotbeds of Napster activity), openly acknowledges that sales dropped 7% during the same time period near the 67 colleges that have banned Napster. So there are clearly other market forces at work and their own research indicates that Napster has shaved off almost half of the drop in sales that they would otherwise have seen. Yet they persist in shooting themselves in the wallet. Idiots.

Craig adds:

I tracked down the original of the article that was quoted at the mynapster forum site.
Here's a CNet story about the Reciprocal study: Interestingly it does not pick up on the point you made that the dip in sales was less near the schools where Napster is allowed.

Web Site of the Week

Covert Operatives

The Internet is full of great short films. Marlow tipped me off to this one. Stop motion animation with GI Joe dolls. Very droll.


The Top 16 Ways Anna Nicole Smith Will Spend Her $449 Million

Who's Number Four!
September 29, 2000
A federal judge Wednesday awarded former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith $449 million in damages in her court case regarding her late husband's $1.6 billion estate. Smith was 26 when she married 89-year-old oil baron J. Howard Marshall, whom she met while working in a Houston topless bar. Fourteen months later, he was dead -- go figure! Smith says before Marshall died, he made a promise to leave her half of his estate.
So now Anna Nicole has all that money, and TopFive wonders what she's going to do with it..
16> Fund a new internet startup:
15> Purchase a fifteen second spot during the Super Bowl to say, "Hey, America! Who's the moron now?"
14> Use 1.8 billion quarters to call someone who might care.
13> Put it with the rest of her savings, for a grand total of $449,000,216!
12> See a hypnotist to remove all memory of former colostomy bag duties.
11> Just like any one else in her profession would... one vial of crack at a time.
10> Hire the top medical specialists in the world to discover the source of that nagging lower back pain.
9> $448,995,500 for acting lessons, and one new pair of Pradas.
8> New scaffolding for her Wonderbra.
7> Get the money in small bills and hide $224.5 million under each breast.
6> (1) Squeeze into a new tube top and slather on some makeup; (2) Go see how Bob Hope is feeling.
5> Upgrade from Big Beef Burritos to Big Beef Burritos Supreme.
4> Buy some realistic sized breasts -- for every woman in the U.S.
3> Hire a squadron of maids to get that "old man smell" out of the bedroom.
2> Prove that bastard Hawking wrong once and for all!
and's Number 1 Way Anna Nicole Smith Will Spend Her $449 Million...
1> Catch her breath, then go down on the judge again.
[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2000 by Chris White ]
Selected from 116 submissions from 44 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Mark Weiss, Austin, TX -- 1 (9th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 4
Chris White, Irvine, CA -- List owner/editor

Blind Faith

Passengers on a small commuter plane are waiting for the flight to leave and they're getting a little impatient. But the airport staff has assured them that the pilots will be there soon and the flight can take off immediately thereafter.
The entrance opens and two men walk up the aisle, dressed in pilots' uniforms--both are wearing dark glasses. One is using a seeing-eye dog, and the other is tapping his way up the aisle with a white, tipped cane. Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin as the men enter the cockpit.
The door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing around, nervously, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.
The plane moves faster and faster down the runway and people at the windows realize that they're headed straight for the edge of the water at the end of the airport's property. It begins to look as though the plane will never take off--but will plow into the water!! Panicked screams fill the cabin, but at that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air.
The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly.
Soon they have all retreated into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.
Up in the cockpit, the co-pilot turns to the pilot and says, "You know, Bob, one of these days, they're going to scream too late, and we're all gonna die!"


Almost Famous

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

So Patrick Fugit, who plays the young Cameron Crowe (renamed William Miller for the film) is 18 playing 15 (and doing so quite convincingly, I might add). Before this, he did two Touched By An Angel episodes when he was 12, as well as a TV movie you didn't see.

What a gas this film must be for Cameron Crowe; recreating the time, when he was 15 in 1973 and went on the road with a band, renamed for the movie as Stillwater. Of course, you know this is a movie, and fiction, and Crowe didn't really lose his virginity to three groupies in a hotel room (he's admitted as much), but its till cool.

Jon Carroll, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, has written an interesting column musing on the nature of "based on a true story," since he worked for Rolling Stone and knew several of the people depicted in the film. One of his objections is that Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the editor of Creem, Lester Bangs, was not "a cardboard cutout, a rock 'n' roll Yoda." He also objects to the dearth of black musicians on the sound track.

Well, that's as may be, but the film is entertaining, well-acted (Frances "Fargo" McDormand is headed for another date with Oscar for her supporting role as Miller's mother) and zips along so well that you hardly notice it's a full two-hours long. Highly recommended.

Rated R for language, drug content and brief nudity. Don't take young children.


Embracing Leading Edge Bandwidth; The Fantasticks

My anonymous correspondent writes:

The weekly column is insightful, useful, and (after consulting last week's column) definitely embraces leading edge bandwidth.

Correcting some errors, and offering vastly more cogent analysis of The Fantasticks is Miriam Nadel:

I enjoyed the film more than I expected to, having seen it largely because I thought it was one of the least filmable musicals of all time.
But I wanted to correct you on a couple of points. First it's hardly a cast of newcomers. Aside from Joel Grey and Teller, Jonathan Morris (who played El Gallo, suffering in my eyes largely from not being a young Jerry Ohrbach) has done a lot of theater work in England, as well as a certain amount of television acting there. And Joe McIntyre (who played Matt) was part of some dreadful teen music band (New Kids on the Block, I think). He was definitely the weak link, in my opinion; actors in musicals should sing with some emotion. I know the part is one with a rather limited range, but former teen idols should have some experience with what puppy love looks like.
More importantly, the song that was "replaced" was NOT "The Rape Ballet". I'm amazed at how many people got this wrong. I can only assume they've never seen the real show. "The Rape Ballet" is the music that accompanies the actual abduction and, while it was modified to fit the carnival theme, it's never had lyrics per se. (There are some spoken words, which are El Gallo's stage directions to his band of abductors.) The song "It Depends on What You Pay" is the non-PC one. And the replacement ("Abductions, Abductions") was NOT written for the movie. It was written for the 30th anniversary tour of the show in 1990, precisely because Tom Jones was concerned about how people would react. Most people who like the show consider this deplorable, albeit understandable.
Incidentally, in addition to moving "Try to Remember" to the end (a good decision in context) and leaving out "Plant a Radish" (probably essential without getting into a buildup between the fathers the movie had no room for), there were a lot of changes to "Round and Round". I suppose that is no more mangling the score than has been done for any other musical, though. And I did like Jonathan Tunick's orchestration, with the minor exception of a few unnecessary choral bits.
Miriam Nadel

I should have mentioned in my review that I missed "Plant a Radish," always one of my favorite songs from this tuneful musical. Well, something's got to go when you cut a three-hour musical to a 90-minute movie.

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