PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 44

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

December 4, 2000

Politics Are Irritating Me 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

  • Politics Are Irritating Me Again
  • Post-Election Election Roundup 3
  • Nixon Did Dispute The 1960 Tally.
  • Old Newspapers Archive

Computer Industry News

  • Noble In Death
  • Small Bytes

Web Site of the Week

  • YadaYada Wireless Bathroom Finder


  • Graphical Computer Humor
  • No Pork Butts About It


  • Panic
  • The Grinch Who Stole Christmas


  • None This Week

General News

Politics Are Irritating Me Again

I started this column just over two years ago for two reasons:

  • It was that or shoot my television
  • I missed writing.

Reason 1 is rearing its ugly head again in all the hoopla over the Florida vote. I have been having trouble expressing myself, and then I read E.J. Dionne Jr.'s column today. Normally, I can take him or leave him, but he expressed himself with unusual eloquence and passion--and managed to capture my feelings exactly. Here's the URL plus and excerpt:

Florida Fatigue
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, December 1, 2000; Page A35

…What's enraging is the effort by the leadership of the Bush campaign to obfuscate and cover up what it's really doing: trying to stop the public from seeing ballots that, if counted, might reverse the election. This is profoundly irresponsible, and it's wrong. If those ballots are ever examined after Bush becomes president and they show he lost, what will the country do then? How will that affect Bush's ability to govern?

How, indeed.

Post-Election Election Roundup 3

Look here for my third Post-Election Roundup, e-mail notification of which went out Dec. 1.

Nixon Did Dispute The 1960 Tally

The other political item I wanted to put in the main column, not the election special, is authoritative refutation of the widely repeated and believed canard that Nixon just rolled over after the 1960 election. And the coolest thing is, this story was written before the election, on Oct. 16:

It Was 40 Years Ago Today
Reposted Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2000, at 10:00 a.m. PT

Yesterday's presidential election had the smallest margin since 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon by roughly 100,000 votes. In a "History Lesson" last month, Slate's David Greenberg settled the question of whether Democrats stole the election through corrupt voting practices. Click here to read his article.

Old Newspapers Archive

I have written previously about the American Newspaper Repository founded by Nicholson Baker. At that time, there was no web site, nor a readily available address to which to send contributions. Both now exist.

Here is an excerpt from the site:

The purpose of the American Newspaper Repository is to keep safe for future scholarship a collection of about 7,000 bound volumes of original American newspapers. The repository bought the collection from the British Library--some of it directly, some through a dealer. An account of the purchase, and of the fate of late nineteenth and twentieth century newspapers in general, appeared recently in The New Yorker. ("Deadline," Nicholson Baker, July 24, 2000.) The collection is not for sale.
Although many of the papers are a hundred years old and were not kept in climate-controlled conditions, the repository's holdings are in exceptionally fine condition: newsprint is much longer-lived than library managers in the U.S. have led us to believe. In addition to several exceedingly scarce runs of major dailies (e.g., the New York World, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Chicago Tribune), there are a large number of ethnic papers. Taken together, the titles form a trove of considerable importance to U.S. history. Mass circulation papers such as the New York World began publishing in four and five colors in the 1890s, and they hired the best illustrators of the day--the papers are often strikingly beautiful.
The bulk of the collection arrived on June 29, 2000; we have not yet made a full inventory.

Although Baker can be something of a crank, he's right in this case. He is doing important work. I've sent my $20; how about you?

American Newspaper Repository
P.O. Box 643
Rollinsford, New Hampshire 03869

Computer Industry News Noble In Death

I don't know what will happen to the spokespuppet, but I think the company is departing this world on a classy note:

Associated Press Writer
ANCHORAGE (AP) -- In a final act of corporate kindness, tossed a lifeline to Alaska dog mushers faced with the harsh choice of either killing their dogs or watching them starve.
The San Francisco-based online retailer, which pulled the plug on Nov. 7 after failing to find a financial backer, donated more than 21 tons of dog food to help mushers in Alaska's Interior.
The collapse of salmon runs this year left mushers with too little food for their dogs this winter.
Villagers use sled dogs to check trap lines, haul water and firewood, and travel between villages.
When the animal-loving company heard about the plight of the hungry sled dogs, it knew it had to act, said John Cummings, director of investor relations.
The online retailer kept the plan to itself and waited until it was in liquidation before going ahead because it didn't want to hear from grumpy stockholders who might want the inventory sold instead, he said.
"Even a struggling dot_com still has a responsibility as a company," Cummings said Thursday.
"Our company is committed to pets, to animal welfare. Most people at this company are passionate about it."

Small Bytes

Another winner from David Strom, reposting comments from one of his correspondents:

Web Informant #226, 22 November 2000:
Why you should have your business plan on your website

…Post your business plan, or at least enough of it to make us believe in you and hat you're offering. I guess I'm aiming this at any of the many websites that offer a free service or product of some kind. My parents always taught me, if it looks too good to be true, I should stay away. And I'm sure in this cynical age, many others feel the same way… I'd like to be able to read a quick statement and know where they're coming from.

Richard Dalton forwards this from Wired:

Click Here to Buy Nothing
by Joanna Glasner

2:00 a.m. Nov. 22, 2000 PST
Fed up with the endless barrage of holiday shopping hype, a coalition o activists is promoting what they fear has become an alien concept in the age of mass consumption: buying nothing.

Web Site of the Week

YadaYada Wireless Bathroom Finder

I can't add much to Yadayada's email:

Looking for a bathroom in most US cities can be a leg-crossing experience. The public toilets aren't fit for humans, and if you try to duck into a nice restaurant for a quick pit stop, you will inevitably encounter a "Restrooms for patrons only" sign. But now help is in the palm of your hand!
YadaYada, the first integrated wireless Internet service provider and personalized mobile Web portal for PDAs, today announced Bathroom Finder. Created by wireless portal Rovenet with the help of, Bathroom Finder offers YadaYada subscribers a wireless guide to public restrooms in 12 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington DC.
By selecting "Toilets" from YadaYada's Wireless Web Guide, users who have found themselves in an "urgent" situation are given instant access to a directory of public restrooms that features both addresses and in-depth reviews of each facility, based on accessibility, cleanliness and added amenities.

Rovenet's own description of the downloadable version:

Strange city, Strange neighborhood and in need of immediate relief? Rovenet's Where2Go Public Toilet locator is your personal guide… with reviewed public toilets throughout major cities nationwide. Relief is now just a tap away.


Graphical Computer Humor

I've had terrible luck with inline graphics, but I'm going to try again:

If you don't see this graphic moving, something's gone awry.

No Pork Butts About It

Who needs to make up humor when you have the Associated Press?

Class grade: No more pork butts about it
Associated Press
Published in The Orlando Sentinel on November 18, 2000
BRATT -- Journalism students at Northview High School no longer have to sell meat after parents complained it amounted to paying for their children`s grades.
The Escambia County Health Department settled the issue Thursday by ordering the school to stop the practice, including a planned Thanksgiving fried turkey sale, for another reason: The sales violate health codes.
The students had been selling smoked Boston pork butts for several years to raise money for the newspaper and yearbook at the rural school in the northwest corner of the Florida Panhandle.
"I don`t have a problem with fund-raisers, but having to buy things for grades is a whole other thing," said parent Lisa Emmons.
She bought $203.75 worth of meat to ensure her daughter`s A, she said.

Wow, we have to pony up much more than that in our district.



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

Where do films like this come from? I mean, I don't know about you, but Panic snuck in under my radar. I saw no advance publicity, no TV commercials, no trailers, even after the art-film and independent movies I normally go to see. This is the American Beauty or the Magnolia of 2000, and mark my words, despite the critics, this film will be heard from at Oscar time.

This is Henry Bromell's first film as a writer/director, and I have to say, I wouldn't have guessed he was responsible for the TV series Moon over Miami (1993), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and Northern Exposure (1990). Hey, in my book, that’s a .667 batting average, which is way good enough for the majors. When people with that kind of pedigree do movies, they tend to be, well, like TV shows.

Now, there were some TV people in the mix. They include John Three's Company Ritter, Tracey The Tracey Ullman Show Ullman and Barbara Mission Impossible Bain. But they were mixed in with Neve Scream Campbell, Donald Every Creepy Film Of The Last Decade Sutherland and William H. Fargo Macy. Macy is one the most interesting actors in motion pictures today. He turns in another subtle, nuanced, fascinating performance in this film.

Macy works in his father's business--murder for hire. They aren't depicted as Mafiosi, just businessmen in a rather odd business. He has a wife and a six-year-old son, and is having a mid-life crisis, so he goes to a shrink (a virtually unrecognizable Ritter, hidden behind a full black beard). This infuriates his father, Sutherland, who assigns Macy to kill his therapist. Meanwhile, Macy has met Neve Campbell in the therapists lobby, and they have fallen in love with each other.

Of course there are fantastic moments in this film, as there were in Magnolia (which also featured Macy) and American Beauty. But it shares with them an adult sensibility that makes a refreshing change from the meretricious garbage we normally get from Hollywood. Just when you're ready to give up hope, you see a film like this.

Rated R for bad language, gratuitous (albeit not particularly visually nasty) violence, and of course, a plot that shows murder for hire and adultery make this adults-only fare in my book.

I applaud it for its snappy 90-minute length. I applaud it for its intelligence. If you're old enough, go see Panic.

By the way, Macy is headed for CBS, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

William H. Macy is making his foray into series television as a writer-producer. Macy and writing partner Steven Schachter are developing a drama project for CBS with Macy's wife, "Sports Night" star Felicity Huffman, attached to star. The project, "Put-in-Bay," is based on the real-life experiences of the family of Huffman's best friend, Mary McCann.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

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

At the other end of the demographic is this film, which is an extended Jim Carrey vehicle (what film of his is anything else?) No piece of scenery is left unchewed. Marlow and I found it cute and figured the sexual innuendo would go over the heads of the wee ones. Rae thought it was just too smutty for a PG-rated children's film, and so was offended. At least it only ran 105 minutes. In the end, Chuck Jones ' 1966 TV special based on the same material overmatched this live-action version. So you'd be better of renting that Grinch than going to see this Grinch. Sorry Ron Howard.


None This Week

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