PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 43

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

November 27, 2000

Oops, I Did It Again!

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

  • Oops, I Did It Again
  • Post-election election roundup
  • Lincoln Diaz-Balart Crow Eating Reward
  • Blog
  • Jon Carrol's Latest Cat Column

Computer Industry News

  • Tiny External USB Disks
  • Wired: Microsoft Antitrust, Lanier on Software

Web Site of the Week

  • Flight Statistics


  • Paul's Fake Dan Ratherisms
  • The Test


  • The Legend of Bagger Vance
  • Charlie's Angels


  • America's Future

General News

Oops, I Did It Again

I know, I said there wouldn't be a column this week. But I had a day off before we left for Los Angeles for Thanksgiving with my mother-in-law, and I had so much good material, I couldn't resist. Some of it is a little dated, but it's still interesting, if I do say so myself.

Post-Election Election Roundup

Look here for my Post-Election Roundup, e-mail notification of which went out Nov. 21.

Plus this bonus from my anonymous correspondent:

As of 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday Nov. 26, 2000, George W. Bush appears to be somewhat less than 149 votes ahead of Al Gore notwithstanding the annuncement earlier Sunday evening by Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris that George Bush was certified to be the winner of the Florida vote for President of the United States by 537 votes. Secretary Harris' decision came after she denied a request from Palm Beach County officials for an extension of a few hours to complete the manual re-count of the last 800 to 1,000 votes in Palm Beach County which re-count was conducted in a time fully in accord with the law of Florida according to the Florida Supreme Court. According to unofficial sources the last 800 to 1,000 votes consist predominantly of votes clearly cast for Gore which were put into a disputed stack by virtue of objection lodged by Republican observers of the re-count.

Just before 5:00 p.m. EST on Nov. 26, Palm Beach submitted a partial recount which Secretary Harris refused to include in her certified total. The partial Palm Beach recount gave Al Gore an additional 180 votes.

The election officials in Nassau County (Florida) submitted the original total from election night rather than the machine recount totals from a few days after the election. The machine recount was required by Florida law. The use of the election night returns rather than those required by Florida law added 51 votes to George Bush's total as certified on Sunday evening by Secretary Harris.

Finally, the Miami Dade county recount (before being stopped by arguably criminal conduct on earlier in the week by persons apparently paid or recruited by the Bush campaign or the Republican National Committee to cross state lines as part of an effort to incite a riot, impede the peaceful re-count in Miami-Dade county, and to physically attack a Democratic party official who was only saved from greater physical harm by the quick action of six (6) sheriff's deputies or police officers from Miami-Dade) found 157 more votes (previously uncounted) for Al Gore after counting just sixteen percent (16%) of the Miami-Dade ballots.

Thus, the actual total at 9:00 p.m. EST on Nov. 26, 2000, was about as follows: Bush was +537 as certified by Secretary Harris This total did not include the extra 180 votes for Gore in Palm Beach County, the extra 51 votes for Gore in Nassau County, or the extra 157 votes for Gore in Miami-Dade County. The total of the extra votes (disenfranchised by the Republican Secretary of State) is 388. The difference between 537 and 388 is 149 votes which is (as explained above due to the continuation of the Palm Beach recount which will apparently be concluded before the second deadline of 9:00 a.m. November 27, 2000, which was acceptable to the Florida Supreme Court although rejected by Secretary Harris pursuant to the option given her by the Florida Supreme Court) an over-estimate of George Bush's actual lead as of 9:00 p.m. Nov. 26, 2000.

On a lighter note, from the Top Five list of Nov. 21, the number one problem with holding an election in hell:

Due to confusing ballot layout, many voters who intended to select "Beer and a Cheeseburger" mistakenly choose "Rectal Banjo Insertion."

Lincoln Diaz-Balart Crow Eating Reward

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida spent all day Thursday after the election on all of the all-news cable channels as the designated GOP spokesman running out the party line, which I personally saw him repeat two dozen times in three interviews: let's not judicialize [is that really a word?] the election process.

Here's a challenge to all of you reading this: I will make you out a personal check for $100 if you can find where the esteemed gentleman either, a) rationalized the GOP about face or b) ate crow.

Shades of the German/Russian non-aggression pact of WWII! For those of you who don't know the story, Germany and Russia agreed not to attack each other in 1939, then carved up Poland. American Communists sang Germany's praises for two years and opposed America's entry into the war on the side of Britain--until Germany attacked Russia in June 1941. Within days, Communists all over the world did an abrupt flip-flop (did any of them get whiplash?) and started supporting war against Germany.

Did any of the Republicans get whiplash, going from "don't judicialize" to federal court suits? I wonder.


As many of you know, the New Yorker does not post its content on the web. If you have not already read this article in the Nov. 13, 2000 issue, you'll have some difficulty finding it (unless it is sitting, unread, in a pile by your bed):

Digital Culture:
You've Got Blog
How to put your business, your boy.friend and your life on-line.
By Rebecca Mead
… a new kind of Web site that is known as a "weblog," or "blog…. A blog consists primarily of links to other Web sites and commentary about those links. Having a blog is rather like publishing your own, on-line version of Readers Digest, with daily updates: you troll the Internet, and, when you find an article or a Web site that grabs you, you link to it-or, in weblog parlance, you "blog" it. Then other people who have blogs-they are known as bloggers-read your blog, and if they like it they blog your blog on their own blog.
Blogs often consist of links to articles that readers might otherwise have missed, 'and thus make for informative reading…

I do not believe I can post the marginally OCR-scanned version of this article that I have; that would be a clear copyright violation. I think I can email it to individuals who ask for it and that this would be "fair use." I would ask only that you don't post it either. Interesting reading.

Jon Carroll's Latest Cat Column

Damn. This column is already SOOO long, but Jon Carroll writes the best cat columns in the world, including Just Trying To Read My Book, which appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle of Nov. 13, and began:

Notice: This is a cat column. People who hate the cat columns may skip over to the triplets lady now. If you have a friend who reads only the cat columns and hates the weird overpunctuated rants, tell her we're back in Bucketland again. And please, drive safely.
CATS ARE OPPOSED to reading. That much is obvious. If a human sits or lies down to read, a cat will jump up and interpose itself between the human and the book. ``Do not pollute your mind with that trash,'' the cat is saying, or perhaps, ``Me me me, pay attention to me me me.''

Bucket is his cat's name.

Conrad Black Journalism Quote

I just added this to my journalism quote page.

We must express the view, based on our empirical observations, that a substantial number of journalists are ignorant, lazy, opinionated, and intellectually dishonest. The profession is heavily cluttered with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude and often alcoholism, and even more so with arrogant and abrasive youngsters who substitute 'commitment' for insight. The product of their impassioned intervention in public affairs is more often confusion than lucidity.

--Conrad Black, F. David Radler, and Peter G. White, "A Brief to the Special Senate Committee on the Mass Media from the Sherbrooke Record, the voice of the Eastern Townships," November 7, 1969, p.10. Quote Excerpted in Talk Magazine, Nov. 2000.

And I almost proved him right by quoting a Talk Magazine, a secondary source, instead of finding the original. It took time on the Internet and wasn't easy to find. I hate doing extra work-just like most journalists do.

Computer Industry News

Tiny External USB Disks

Craig Reynolds checks in:

Wired carried this pre-COMDEX article about portable storage.
It describes three tiny external USB disks. They have modest storage capacity (32, 64, and 256 MB respectively) but are unique because of their very small physical size. The functionality
is a bit like Sony MemoryStick, but they use the more ubiquitous USB interface:

Wired: Microsoft Antitrust, Lanier on Software

Some weeks ago, I told you this story was coming soon, from the paper edition of Wired to the online version. In case you forgot to mark your calendars, let me tell you it has arrived:

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

Richard Dalton liked this article in the December issue of Wired, which won't be online until Dec. 12, but is available at newsstands now:

SCREED GRAB: One-Half of a Manifesto
Why stupid software will save the future from neo-Darwinian machines.
By Jaron Lanier

Anyway, Dalton says of it:

[The article] adds another useful dimension to this debate. I haven't agreed with Lanier a lot in the past, particularly in regard to spending a lot of resources on virtual reality. But his focus on the chronic unreliability of software is something I wholly agree with.
There's precious little progress in either the development process or the utility of complex software. When you combine that with the limited understanding we have of "human" behavior, it seems to create a daunting scenario for cybernetic replacement. Anyway, it was more readable than I expected.

You may remember Jaron Lanier as Mr. Virtual Reality.

Web Site of the Week

US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Flight Statistics

Dan Grobstein sent in this site, apt for the holidays:

Saw this in a Washington Post article today. . Has information for historical date flight delays (like Wednesday before Thanksgiving) by airport, average taxi in times by airline by airport. Here's a Washington Post story about the site.


Paul's Fake Dan Ratherisms

Three of these are things Dan Rather really said on election night; three are submissions I made to the Top5 Humor list. Can you tell which is which?

"Just once, I'd like to see a candidate with less hat and no prattle."

"When the going gets tough, the tough break for commerical. Now, please, this message."

"This race is closed up tighter than Hilary Clinton's legs... well, on any night."

"If a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a hand gun"

"This race is tight like a too small bathing suit on a too long ride home from the beach"

"This will show you how tight it is - it's spandex tight"

"This race is as tight as the rusted lug nuts on a 57 Ford

"Al Gore has his back to the wall, shirt tails on fire with this race in Florida"

Answers at the bottom of the column.

The Test

A first grade teacher was having trouble with one of her students. The teacher asked, "Johnny what is your problem?"

Johnny answered, "I'm too smart for the first grade. My sister is in the third grade and I'm smarter than she is! I think I should be in the third grade too!"

The teacher had had enough. She took Johnny to the principal's office.

While Johnny waited in the outer office, the teacher explained to the principal what the situation was.

The principal told the teacher he would give the boy a test and if he failed to answer any of his questions he was to go back to the first grade and behave. The teacher agreed.

Johnny was brought in and the conditions are explained to him and he agrees to take the test.

Principal: "What is 3 x 3?" Johnny: "9". Principal: "What is 6 x 6?" Johnny: "36". And so it went with every question the principal thought a third grader should know.

The principal looks at the teacher and tells her, "I think Johnny can go to the third grade."

The teacher says to the principal, "Let me ask him some questions?"

The principal and Johnny both agree.

The teacher asks, "What does a cow have four of that I have only two of?" Johnny, after a moment, "Legs."

Teacher: "What is in your pants that you have but I do not have?"

The principal's eyes open really wide and before he could stop the answer, Johnny replied, "Pockets."

Teacher: "What does a dog do that a man steps into?"

Johnny: "Pants"

Teacher: "What word starts with an 'F' and ends in 'K' that means a lot of excitement?"

Johnny: "Firetruck"

The principal breathed a sigh of relief and told the teacher, "Put Johnny in the fifth grade, I missed the last four questions myself."


The Legend Of Bagger Vance

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

Robert Redford directed. Will Smith at his most endearing. Matt Damon acting up a storm. Charlize Theron, complete with a cute southern accent. A lovely, fluffy, uplifting little film with a first class narration by Jack Lemmon, who also has a dandy bookend cameo (at the start and end of the film). All the elements are there. It just doesn't jell.

Not objectionable really, but in the end, it's just a golf movie with a love story pasted on it. Haven't we had enough golf movies in recent years?

I sure hope Will Smith is a nice guy in real life, because he sure has the portrayal down on the screen.

If this does land office business or wins any prizes, I will be one shocked puppy. Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, and at 125 minutes, its about 15 minutes longer than it had to be, for anyone who, like me, hasn't golfed in years. Not bad.

So there you have it, I don't like every movie I see.

Charlie's Angels

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

What can you say about a film that wastes Bill Murray and Tim Curry? That it was stupid, boring, pointless and badly written? That in many jurisdictions it requires a license and long walks at night? Things blow up, people drive around. The opening scene has nothing to do with the rest of the movie.

Hey, I'm no snob. I like an action movie just as well as the next person. The last Jackie Chan movie really enterained me. I loved Last Action Hero. But Charlie's Angels left me colder than a wet mackeral. The "women jumping on trampolines" segment of The Man Show on Comedy Central is truer to the spirit of the original television show than this movie. It doesn't even give good jiggle.


America's Future

Brown recently creamed Columbia in Ivy League football. Most of you probably didn't notice, but Marlow did, because she is a member of the Columbia University Marching Band, which took the bus up to play at the game. Here's her report on pre-game activities:

Before Brown there is a tradition of going around the city from midnight until six am. We have a planned route. This enables us to not have to pay for hotel rooms in Providence or actually wake up at 6 am. Basically we go to Chinatown, the Financial district, Staten Island, and Battery Park. We sing at Hamilton's grave. We stop at a barbershop called "mei dick" to take pictures. We eat Malaysian food. We check out the anatomically correct bull statue near/on (?) Wall Street. At Battery Park we have some fun grudge matches. Its basically just wrestling over any stupid fight you've had over the course of the semester and the spring before, a new tradition started last year. We went to Staten Island, we sang to the Statue of Liberty. We slept on the bus going to Brown. We lost the game by twenty points. The bus ride back was fun but nothing really outstanding to report.


Ratherisms: The first three are mine, the rest are Dan's.

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