PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 3

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

January 22, 2001

On Time At Last!

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

  • More on Blogs

Computer Industry News

  • More on Ginger

Web Site of the Week

  • None this week


  • Ponderings
  • What, no George Bush Jokes?


  • Miss Congeniality
  • State and Main
  • Thirteen Days


  • More on 2001, Old Age

General News

More on Blogs

Proving once again that I am a trailing edge kind of guy, Richard Dalton sent me this commentary on Web Logs, or Blogs, of which this very column is an example.

Ego Finds A New Outlet In 'Blogs'
By Sarah L. Roberts-Witt , Interactive Week
Special To Interactive Week
January 16, 2001 5:00 PM ET

By now, you've probably been at least peripherally exposed to one of the latest developments on the Net culture scene, known as blogging. But a standard definition of blogging is almost as fluid as blogs themselves.
At first glance, the current constellation of blogs appears to be little more than updated versions of personal sites that populated the Web circa 1995, with the requisite wacky personal pictures and desultory musings. On closer inspection, though, blogs are far more diverse in terms of content and style than those early stabs at personal digital expression.
The term "blog," a contraction of "Web logs," was coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz, an inveterate blogger and formerly a creative director at Epinions. But what is a blog? Some… take the form of opinionated media digests. These typically provide links to other sites or to specific stories about current political, business or cultural events, along with a dash of commentary. Others… are more like an online version of a personal journal, complete with photos, diary entries, essays and… Still others… take the journal-entry approach to navel-gazing extremes, with entries on such minutiae as daily hygiene rituals.

I still have that New Yorker piece on blogs somewhere, I think, if anyone is interested in it. Just email me.

Computer Industry News

More on Ginger

Richard Dalton, now a resident of Cape Cod and a reader of the Boston Globe, noted this story:

Hype or hoax?
By David Warsh, Globe Columnist, 1/16/2001
Close readers of the inside pages of newspapers around the country last week were treated to a spate of stories trumpeting a mysterious invention that soon would change the world.
… What's the difference between hype and hoax? In this case, not much more than the time it takes to bring a product to market.

And now comes the deflation, also noted by Richard Dalton:

'Ginger' Inventor Downplays 'Greatest High-Tech Invention'
By Tim McDonald, Part of the NewsFactor Network
January 15, 2001
…"We have a promising project, but nothing of the earth-shattering nature that people are conjuring up," inventor Dean Kamen said in a statement released late Friday.
…"The leaked proposal quoted several prominent technology leaders out of context, without their doubts, risks, and maybes included," Kamen said. "This, together with spirited speculation about the unknown, has led to expectations that are beyond the merely whimsical."

Web Site of the Week

None This Week



My brother sent me these; the source has been stripped, but they sound professional, which means some poor comedian deserves the credit, but isn't getting it.

    • Never raise your hands to your kids, it leaves your groin unprotected.
    • I'm not into working out. My philosophy is no pain, no pain.
    • I'm in shape. Round is a shape.
    • I'm desperately trying to figure out why Kamikaze pilots wore helmets.
    • Do illiterate people get the full effect of alphabet soup?
    • I've always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.
    • Ever notice when you blow in a dog's face he gets mad at you, but when you take him in a car he sticks his head out the window?
    • Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?
    • You have to stay in shape. My mother started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 now and we have no idea where she is.
    • I have six locks on my door, all in a row. When I go out, I lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three of them.
    • One out of every three Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of two of your best friends. If they are OK, then it must be you.
    • They show you how detergents take out bloodstains. I think if you've got a T-shirt with bloodstains all over it, maybe your laundry isn't your biggest problem.
    • Ask people why they have deer heads on their walls and they tell you it's because they're such beautiful animals. I think my wife is beautiful, but I only have photographs of her on the wall.
    • Future historians will be able to study at the Jimmy Carter Library, the Gerald Ford Library, the Ronald Reagan Library, and the Bill Clinton Adult Bookstore.

What, no George Bush Jokes?

In a spirit of bipartisanship, I have stoutly resisted posting any George Bush jokes. Not that some of them haven't been funny; in fact, many were downright knee slappers. Keep sending them for my personal enjoyment. But even though the Republicans piled on Clinton 20 minutes after his inauguration and continued to clothesline him with trivia for eight long years, I intend not to descend to their level. So, 100 days free pass to George in this column. In the humor section, that is.


Miss Congeniality

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

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Last week I reviewed Traffic, a weighty, artsy film that has some serious Oscar traction and a meaty subject on which it takes a stand: the war on drugs. This week, comes Sandra Bullock in a film so light it threatens to float off it not tethered.

This PG-13 romp contains a number of familiar faces, and is more entertaining than its lame trailer makes it appear. The tagline, according to IMDB, is "Unpolished. Unkempt. Unleashed. Undercover." The plot outline: "An FBI agent must go undercover in the Miss United States beauty pageant to prevent a group from bombing the event."

Fun for almost the whole family. Don't worry, watching this won't put a thought in your head.

State and Main

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

According to IMDB:

Tagline: When a film crew came to Waterford, Vermont they shot first and asked questions later.

Plot Outline: A movie crew invades a small town whose residents are all too ready to give up their values for showbiz glitz.

A film written and directed by David Mamet that only has one f-word in it? Will wonders never cease? My, Hollywood does love making movies about itself. This is another. With a bunch of those those weird, Mamet twists of course.

Amazingly, the film is about the love story between Philip Seymour Hoffman (the screenwriter) and Rebecca Pidgeon, a townie. Maybe you saw her in The Winslow Boy or The Spanish Prisoner. Or maybe you know her music; IMDB says: "Pidgeon has recorded two albums with the British folk-pop group Ruby Blue. Her four solo albums are "Down From Above," "The Raven," "The New York Girl's Club" and "Four Marys." Anyway, you'll be seeing more of her, and in bigger roles. Hoffman, of course, has been all over everything in supporting roles the last few years, and is likely to garner a few awards for this one. He played the male nurse to the old man in Magnolia, and the suspicious friend Freddie Miles in last year's smash hit The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Very enjoyable. A little rough for kids: dorsal nudity, implied sex with an underage girl (not, thankfully, shown), but mostly an entertaining Hollywood film about Hollywood, short on message and long on entertainment.

Thirteen Days

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

What I remember about the Cuban missile crisis is President Kennedy's speech, which we all watched on the portable black and white TV at the foot of the dinner table. Mom told us, "this might mean nuclear war. You might not wake up tomorrow." I remember having a lot of trouble sleeping that night, waiting for the bright flash. But with the resilience of youth, I quickly moved on--which is what we all did during the 50s and 60s, when duck and cover was the order of the day and nuclear Armageddon was never far from our thoughts.

The tagline for the film is, "You'll Never Believe How Close We Came," which is true if you're not a student of history. I believe it. I have read everything I can get my hands on about this exchange, and it wasn't skill or brilliance, it was dumb luck that we didn't go to war. We really had no idea what was going on, and neither did the Soviets.

The two takeaways from this film: things are never as clear as they seem and civilian control of the military is both essential and difficult. Humility is an important lesson for us to remember at all times.

As a yellow dog Democrat, it was hard for me to watch John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy plan for the 1964 election along the way, given how things turned out for both of them. Kevin Costner's thick Boston accent is cute. I didn't hear it slip, but Rae claims he delivered a few lines without it.

Thought-provoking. Not entertaining, but not boring either. Informative, mostly, and moving in places. Remarkable maintenance of tension, considering its mostly talking heads. True to life for the most part (clearly some parts were made up, and Kenny O'Donnell didn't really have that much power/authority/access). It really evokes the period (I mean, I was 10 in 1962, but it feels very right). I doubt Bobby ever referred to himself as ruthless, even in a kidding way. He hated his well-earned reputation on that score.


More on 2001

Joe Brancatelli writes:

Of course, 2001 doesn't look like "2001." 1984 didn't look much like "1984," either. And the future didn't look much like the future people saw at the 1939 World's Fair.

Life is weirder than fiction. I give you OJ, the Florida election, the Internet, an actor as President, a felon as President, a First Lady as Senator, Americans eating sushi, Japanese eating pizza, and god knows what else.

Orwell is spinning in his grave and Arthur C. Clarke is Sri Lanka. Same difference. It's deja vu all over again.

Dan Rosenbaum, a regular correspondent, noted with pride his father's letter to the editor of the New York Times, which I reprint here because I like the sentiment.

January 17, 2001
Living Life to the Fullest
To the Editor:
Re "I Live Out My Life in Modest Steps" (Workplace section, Jan. 10):
Contrary to Norman Kiell's approach to advancing age, as an 80- year-old, I find that spending one's life is the more satisfying course. The very term "living out" suggests a posture of passivity, of entertaining oneself alone while waiting for the inevitable. That strikes me as a boring way to live.
It is far more entertaining, stimulating, enlivening and, not incidentally, useful to other people to continue as full and varied a round of activities as one's health and situation permit and to involve oneself in one's community, including its politics.
Actively sharing one's life provides a far richer source of satisfaction than "living it out."


Rockville Centre, N.Y., Jan. 10, 2001

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