PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 40

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

October 30, 2000

Belated Happy 2nd Birthday

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

  • PSACOT Second Anniversary
  • I Love The Northwest

Computer Industry News

  • Is Technology Dangerous?

Web Site of the Week

  • Winning The War On Masturbation


  • St. Peter and the HMO Manager
  • Controls your PC Should Have


  • Legend of Drunken Master


  • Gates Vs. Ballmer, Piccolos, Apples, Airplanes, Help A Worthy Toy

General News

Second Anniversary

The best newspaper columnists I know rerun items and columns on an annual basis. Why should I be any exception, just because I missed my own anniversary by a couple of weeks? This column turned two years old on Oct. 16, 2000—heavens, it doesn’t seem that long. Here, for those of you who haven’t seen it before, as well as those of you who have, is my anniversary item, amended as necessary so it makes sense.

It was two years ago this month that PSACOT was reborn in its present form. In the ensuing 52 weeks, I have written 48 columns (up from 45 in 1998-99), which means I have missed just over one every quarter. Not bad for an outlet which, as Vicki likes to remind me, I receive nothing but personal satisfaction.

Actually, it has been very satisfying. I don't know how many of you can remember back 24 months, but the genesis of this column is still clear in my mind, even it isn't in yours. It was the forced march to impeachment, rammed down America's throat by the rabid Republicans. Thus, I have something in common with Ted Koppel; my outlet was born in crisis, but outlasted the crisis and found a voice of its own over time.

I started PSACOT (by the way, many of you try to pronounce that acronym. Don't bother. It has no proper pronunciation) because I was afraid I was going insane, shouting back at the TV and the newspaper every night, composing little speeches in my head I’d give to Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich if I ever had the chance. Also, I my job had mutated, and almost without me noticing it, I wasn't really a professional writer any more, but more of an editor and an administrator. I love to write. Always have. Not once in a 25-year career can I remember a moment of writer's block.

So, I dusted off the name I used on my favorite college column, and started to write for you, my four-score readers. It's the ultimate in vanity publishing, a column about me, my family and my opinions on public affairs. (I understand there is a term for this… and e-something. Dear readers, what is that term?). But it simultaneously keeps me from yelling at the television and alleviates any desire I might have to write a Christmas letter, and isn't that a fine combination?

I like doing this, even if it does rob me of most potential conversational topics with most of you. I mean, when we meet, many of you say, "I knew that already. I read it in your column."

I hope you're enjoying reading this as much as I'm enjoying writing it. Thank you for being there.

I Love The Northwest

I was taking a morning walk the other day. The humidity was high, the temperature was about 50, and there was a little wind, gray clouds and a threat of rain. It reminded me very much of Portland, Ore., my home town, and Seattle, my second-favorite U.S. city (the town where I have now lived almost half my life, San Francisco, is a close third). In a place with these weather conditions, everything is green all year long, the air constantly smells of vegetation, even in cities, and mildew is a constant threat. Algae grows on tile roofs. You wash your car in the rain, because if you didn't, you'd never wash it.

I love the Pacific Northwest, and I miss it. I'd move there in a moment, but for the work I've taken on, stoking the star-making machinery behind the popular… PC. Oh, and my wife, my daughters and my cats, none of whom would probably do all that well in really wet conditions. But it doesn't mean I don't miss my natal land, because I do.

Computer Industry News

Is Technology Dangerous?

Richard Dalton found this interesting commentary on Bill Joy's warning about the dangers of technology, written by Ray Kurzweil, another prominent industry figure.

Ray Kurzweil vs. Bill Joy: Promise Vs. Peril
Although destructive, self-replicating software entities do cause damage from time to time, the injury is but a small fraction - much less than one-tenth of 1 percent - of the benefit we receive from the computers and communication links that harbor them.

Web Site of the Week

Winning The War On Masturbation

Marlow found this one. I think they're kidding.

Another traffic jam of sites this week:

Glen Speckert writes:

I don't know if you've run across The Darwin Awards site but it is great. There are lots of good Darwin Award stories, and honorable mentions...

Jonathan Blackwood writes:

George W. Bush has wreaked havoc on Texas in the last 5 years - take a look at this website and decide for yourself.

One of my colleagues finds this cybercrime treaty story disturbing.

David Strom tells why he thinks Ford is being stupid about a Volvo fan site, and discusses the way corporations should treat fans in the latest edition of the Web Informant.


St. Peter and the HMO Manager

Two doctors and an HMO manager died and lined up at the pearly gates for admission to heaven. St. Peter asked them to identify themselves.
One doctor stepped forward and said, "I was a pediatric spine surgeon and helped kids overcome their deformities." St. Peter said, "You may enter."
The second doctor said, "I was a psychiatrist. I helped people rehabilitate themselves." St. Peter invited him into heaven, too.
The third applicant stepped forward and said, "I was an HMO manager. I helped people get cost-effective health care." St. Peter said, "You can come in also."
But as the HMO manager walked by, St. Peter added, "You may stay for three days. After that you can go to hell!"

Controls Your PC Should Have

I usually avoid graphics, but these are funny, and I think they'll fit. Barry
Surman sent them to me.

Funny Picture 1

Funny Picture 2

Funny Picture 3


Legend Of Drunken Master

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

Since I didn't get out to any movies this week, I offer you this review from my friend Ray Pardo:

I followed the advice of my favorite movie reviewer in the Boston Globe and took Yoli to see the latest Jackie Chan movie.
With the unlikely title of "Legend of Drunken Master" and some bad clips on TV, I was not so sure.
Well, the reviewer was right. And we both loved the movie.
It is a wonderful story, with a great ensemble cast and maybe the best Jackie Chan fighting movie ever!!!
The movie had some scenes obviously choreographed out of the Three Stooges. However, the movie wasn't campy. It told a wonderful story had family values and a great respect for China. By balancing the humor with the action, the movie never allowed itself to get away from the real story.
I'll bet you will like it.

Heck, I even like Jackie Chan's commercials. So he's probably right about me. How about you? The film's six years old, but this is its first appearance in the U.S.


Gates Vs. Ballmer, Piccolos, Apples, Airplanes, Help A Worthy Toy

A veteran journalist of my acquaintance gave me permission to run his comments, but it wasn’t clear it was OK to name him; if he wants credit by name, he’ll let me know and I’ll change this.

He’s commenting on my praise for the 50-page story in the current Wired Magazine (not yet available online) about the Microsoft antitrust case.

This is one of the best pieces Wired has ever published and is a reportorial tour de force by its author.
However, John H. at Wired missed more than a few critical points. It's always been interesting to me that people focus on Gates when the titanic force at MSFT has been Ballmer. I've covered Microsoft off and on for a lot of years and what I think is interesting is that until very recently people have missed Ballmer's influence in the organization.
Ballmer's the aggressive one in the equation. Don't believe me? Think back to Stac Electronics' suit against Microsoft. The two Brads didn't work for Gates, they worked for Ballmer. And where Microsoft has gotten in trouble is in licensing issues. Guess who ran that operation? Can you spell "Ballmer?"
Gates may be the intellectual leader of Microsoft, but it's Ballmer who the troops follow through the breach. And it's astounding that Wired missed it. But then, hey, I'm just an old reporter.

The article won't be available online until Nov. 14:

The Truth, The Whole Truth, And Nothing But The Truth

The untold story of the Microsoft antitrust case and what it means for the future of Bill Gates and his company. By John Heilemann

My usual anonymous correspondent managed to refer to three items from last week in one message:

While the list was as instructive as the message on Jacks' answering machine,

1 million billion piccolos is either
1 million gigolos or
1 thousand los
but is not 1 gigolo

How about them apples (unprocessed red delicious of course)?

Speaking of Apples, Ross Snyder opines:

Who eats Red Delicious apples? They're pure mush... And for how few more years will we have the glorious Gravensteins from Sonoma County?

I've never been a big Gravenstein fan, but Gala apples, which came first from New Zealand, really do it for me.

Ross had a few other notes as well:

You're much back in form this week. Exhaustion becomes you. [If that's true, this week's column should be good as well--editor]
Suggestion for Marlow: Next time she finds herself at loose ends near Poughkeepsie, head for the FDR estate in Hyde Park. It's just minutes away. Unless one is a Reagan Republican -- the Rockefeller types will still love it -- Hyde Park is a breathtaking restoration setting for sanity. As, I might add, is the FDR Memorial on the Tidal Basin in DC. Much may we mourn him this year...
Oh -- and do you have a favorite airline? Mine is TWA, though it grows smaller by the month. But that's mostly because I'm pampered as an elite member of their frequent-flyer club. It's a bit more generous than most. Unhappily, they've quit using widebodies inside the U.S., save only for their L.A. - N.Y. nonstops. Have you tried a 777? I see UAL uses them once in awhile between SF and Chicago. From what I read, they're cancelled or late as often as any other UA types.
On the coast here, I like Alaska whenever it goes where I want. Unhappily, almost not at all to Orange County (I manage always to forget the name of its airport) or LAX.

I suspect Ross has trouble with the name of the Orange County Airport (John Wayne) for the same reason I have trouble with the new name of the National Airport in Washington, D.C. (Ronald Reagan). In fact, there was a little dustup recently because the Metro Stop hasn't been renamed. Bully for the Metro. I think naming major facilities after living politician s is a poor idea.

As for airlines, I loved TWA when it had real service and flew it constantly to NYC. No more; not enough flights. And I prefer Alaska to Southwest or United by an order of magnitude. I fly it every chance I get. And I don't care much for the 777, but how often can we choose our equipment?

My sister-in-law Pamela Drake, president and founder of Pamel Drake Imports (PDI) sends along this request:

This is a LONG shot! But it never hurts to ask: If you believe WOODKINS is a quality toy, we at PDI would really appreciate your taking the time to pull up on the internet and voting for WOODKINS!! and then sending this email to everyone you know!! This award is the "oscar" for the toy business. I truly believe WOODKINS deserves to be a nominee for this first ever award of its kind; and, I would like to hope than someone besides Mattel will be the running. If you are not familiar with our toy, look at our website: If someone on your list needs to actually see our toy before they can vote we will send them a free sample.

As of now, you can no longer say that PSACOT has never offered you something for nothing. At least indirectly.

To obtain a weekly reminder when new columns are posted or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism write to me:

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