PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 3 No. 45

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

December 11, 2000

I'm Tired Of Arguing

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

  • Thanks, But I've Had It--Almost
  • Chicken McNoggin
  • Wolfe On Wiesner
  • Vagina Monologues

Computer Industry News

  • None This Week

Web Site of the Week

  • Furniture Porn (and Al and George)


  • None this week


  • None This Week


  • Apple Blossom Time

General News

Thanks, But I've Had It--Almost

I want to thank everyone who submitted useful and interesting election commentary this week. Alas, I am burned out. I still believe Al Gore won, but I don't think either the courts or the American people care, and that's just too bad, but that's the way I see it.

Still, a pair of items came in which I find irresistible, but only when they are run back to back.

Here are a few interesting statistics from our breakdown map of counties won by George Bush and Albert Gore ( as compiled by law professor Joseph Olson. The last item is, perhaps, the most telling.

Counties won by Bush: 2,434
Counties won by Gore: 677

Population of counties won by Bush: 143 million
Population of counties won by Gore: 127 million

Square miles of country won by Bush: 2,427,000
Square miles of country won by Gore: 580,000

States won by Bush: 29
States won by Gore: 19

And now for the most remarkable finding....

Average Murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Bush: 0.1

Average Murder per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore: 13.2

The Federalist's crack staff of researchers found one more interesting fact that might help explain these disparate murder rates. Gun ownership in the counties won by Mr. Bush is much higher than in the counties won by Mr. Gore!

No telling if this stuff is true, of course, but let's assume it is. Now, let's look at an analysis provided by a former UPI staffer. I don't have his permission, so I won't name him, but here are his 10 proposed headlines for the data:

(10) "Bush supporters can't shoot straight"
(9)"Gore supporters shoot straighter"
(8) "Lower class needs additional anger management"
(7) "Anger management programs working among upper class"
(6) "Capital punishment is working, according to Bush supporters"
(5) "Capital punishment is failing, according to Gore supporters"
(4) "Bush supporters have better lawyers, according to Bush and gore
(3) "Tighter Gun registration laws desparately needed, but not in Bush
(2) "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, a comedy for those who think"
(1) "Liars figure and figures lie

Chicken McNoggin

Warning: the picture which accompanies this article is really disgusting.

Chicken McNoggin, Hold the Fries

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 1, 2000; Page C01

It starts when an office worker says, "Hey, did you hear about the Chicken

Wolfe on Wiesner

I don't think Tom Wolfe has a terrific track record when it comes to accuracy, but I am dying to know if anyone out there knows if this is true. This is an excerpt from the essay "Two Young Men Who Went West," reprinted in his new book Hooking Up. It doesn't speak well of my alma mater, or one of the university's greatest presidents and an all-around great human being, Jerome Wiesner.

Some of them, such as Noyce and Shockley, had gone East to graduate school at MIT, since it was the most prestigious engineering school in the United States. But MIT had proved to be a backwater --the sticks--when it came to the most advanced form of engineering, solid-state electronics. Grinnell College, with its one thousand students, had been years ahead of MIT. The picture had been the same on the other great frontier of technology in the second half of the twentieth century, namely, the space program. The engineers who fulfilled one of man's most ancient dreams, that of traveling to the moon, came from the same background, the small towns of the Midwest and the West. After the triumph of Apollo 11, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first mortals to walk on the moon, NASA's administrator, Tom Paine happened to remark in conversation, "This was the triumph of the squares." A reporter overheard him-and did the press ever have a time with that! But Paine had come up with a penetrating insight. As it says in the Book of Matthew, the last shall be first. It was engineers from the supposedly backward and narrow-minded boondocks who had provided not only the genius but also the passion and the daring that won the space race and carried out John F. Kennedy's exhortation, back in 1961, to put a man on the moon "before this decade is out." The passion and the daring of these engineers was as remarkable as their talent. Time after time they had to shake off the meddling hands of timid souls from back East. The contribution of MIT to Project Mercury was minus one. The minus one was Jerome Wiesner of the MIT Electronic Research Lab, who was brought in by Kennedy as a special adviser to straighten out the space program when it seemed to be faltering early in 1961. Wiesner kept flinching when he saw what NASA's boondockers were preparing to do. He tried to persuade Kennedy to forfeit the manned space race to the Soviets and concentrate instead on unmanned scientific missions. The boondockers of Project Mercury, starting with the project's director, Bob Gilruth, an aeronautical engineer from Nashwauk, Minnesota, dodged Wiesner for months, like moonshiners evading a roadblock, until they got astronaut Alan Shepard launched on the first Mercury mission. Who had time to waste on players as behind the times as Jerome Wiesner and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... out here on technology's leading edge?
Just why was it that small-town boys from the Middle West dominated the engineering frontiers? Noyce concluded it was because in a small town you became a technician, a tinker, an engineer, and an inventor, by necessity.
"In a small town," Noyce liked to say, "when; something breaks down, you don't wait around for a new part, because it's not coming. You make it yourself."

Vagina Monologues

Unfortunate name, terrific theater. Vicki wasn't interested, but Rae was, so we went. It was sold out in San Francisco--every night, including the several weeks of extension. Eve Ensler, the author, was performing it as a one-woman show. Well, one woman on stage. There were hundreds of women in the audience. In fact, it was about 80% female the night we were there. Rae and I only got in by standing around outside the theater waiting for someone to sell a pair of tickets. We got lucky; our tickets were in the second row, center.

The play is 90 minutes with no intermission, and consists of vignettes of women talking about sex, culled, the author/monologist says, from more than 200 interviews of women of all ages, races and professions. Some are funny, some are tragic, and all of them are well acted. Rae was totally enthralled, and I was both surprised and entertained.

The talk is raw and candid, the language is cleaner than you might expect, given the subject. A terrific evening of theater. I recommend it.

Computer Industry News

None This Week

Web Site of the Week

Furniture Porn

Phil Gill:

A friend of mine went shopping for couches on the net, and this is what the "Google" search engine came up with. very helpful. Take a look. It's a scream!

And while we're at it, here's another one Phil spotted, in the fine old tradition of the hamster dance; the Al and George Dance.


None This Week


None This Week

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


Apple Blossom Time

I mentioned the first few words of an old novelty song a few weeks back, and it drew this response:

My father used to sing the first few lines of this song, and I have for some time tried to find the whole piece (by Danny Kaye?) in sheet or recorded form. Please let me know if you know how or where I can find this. I found you article on the web and was hoping that you may have found the song.
Regards, John Frankel

Anyone know where John and I can find the lyrics?

My anonymous correspondent, apropos of last week's head-pounding graphic, asks:

Is the moving graphic an example of touch typing?

The way I do it, yes.

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