PS... A Column

on Things

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

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

January 29, 2001

Bad Language Special Edition

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

  • Cute Email Project
  • Thoughtful Mass Transit Commentary
  • Bad Language
  • Carroll Cat Column

Computer Industry News

  • Hacker Travails, Slomo Details, Microsoft Fails

Web Site of the Week

  • Web Informant/BizTravel.Com


  • Men
  • The Top 15 Signs You're NOT on Temptation Island
  • The Top 15 Terrorist Pet Peeves


  • None This Week


  • Ginger, again; Cherry Blossom Time

General News

Marlow's excited because Al Gore has joined the faculty at Columbia. Well, OK, technically, he's a visiting lecturer in the Journalism School.

And here's a picture of Rae and the blanket she crocheted.

Cute Email Project

Boy, I hope this isn't a fake…

We are in the third grade at Greenbriar Academy in Durham, North Carolina. We are located in Durham County, near Raleigh, which is the capital of North Carolina. Our social studies teacher, Ms. Thompson, is helping us by using her e-mail address as our e-mail receiver.
We have decided to map an e-mail project. We are curious to see where in the world (which is our topic of study) our e-mail will travel via the Internet.
We will be limiting our time to the period of December 1, 2000 to March 1, 2001 (only 3 months). This is not a pen-pal project, so we will not write you back (unless you request it). We would like your help. If you receive this message, we ask that you:
1) e-mail back at and tell us your city/state/country/location so we can plot it on our map AND
2) send this letter on to everyone you know so that they can send it on to everyone they know (and so on) to help us reach even more people. (We do not mind receiving repeats so send it on to everyone. We are tracking the number of responses we receive by making a graph using the numbers received by state and country.)
Thank you for any help you can give. Our e-mail address is:
Your friends,
Greenbriar Academy Third Grade Students
(Ms. Thompson's Social Studies Class)
Durham, North Carolina

Thoughtful Mass Transit Commentary

Some of you may know I have a deep and abiding, long-term, personal interest in mass transit and mass transit issues, especially streetcars and subways. Jonathan E.D. Richmond, a successor of mine at The Tech at MIT is a very thoughtful commentator on these subjects--so much so that I bought a copy of his Ph.d. thesis on the Los Angeles Subway system. I would do him a disservice to oversimplify his positions, so let me simply characterize him as holding a contrarian position on many issues which members of the public consider settled with regard to the various modes of mass transit. For example, he considers buses better than streetcars in almost all situations. That may be far out from the general public's perspective, but he's right in the middle of the mainstream among serious transit thinkers. And that surprised me.

Anyway, here's his most recently published thought-provoking article:

Sunday, January 21, 2001
The Costly Triumph of Ideology
CAMBRIDGE, MASS.--When ideology, rather than economics, determines the model by which public transit services are supplied, it is the passenger, as well as the public purse, who loses out.
In blocking privatization, California Democrats have preserved the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's poor service and management structure. Meanwhile, uncritical belief in the private sector and contempt for anything publicly run have prevented Republicans from considering ways the public sector could be made more responsive and efficient. As a result, the privatization debate has bypassed the potential for learning from the achievements of smaller-scale operations such as in Long Beach and Santa Monica, which are tightly managed and at similar costs to privatized operators like Foothill Transit.

Bad Language

Red Smith, opening day, 1945 (courtesy of Dan Rosenbaum)

On the first play of the game, the Giants' Bill Rigney stretched a single, sliding into second just as the ball arrived. "Safe," said George Magerkurth, a large umpire. From the stands came the poignant, haunting, melodious mating call of the Greenpoint jungle.
"You," Billy Herman advised Mr. Magerkurth, with simple dignity, "are a short word of Anglo-Saxon origin."

Craig Reynolds was the first of several people to tip me off to this interesting piece of arcana:

1)Go to Google and write in dumb MF (I have spelled it out for you in the link so you don't have to type the words yourself).
2) note #1 result. enjoy.

I don't consider this a George Bush joke, more a hack. There are online dictionaries that suggest "Bill Gates" as a synonym for Satan, as I recall.

Carroll Cat Column

In my personal effort to get you to read the world's best daily newspaper columnist…

A Little Spark Of Inspiration
Jon Carroll
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
ALMOST EVERY MORNING, Archie jumps up on the bed about 5 a.m. and lies down near my head. I have trained him not to lie on my face, which is grand progress. He is waiting for me to wake up. When I do, he begins to purr and stretch extravagantly, apparently happy just to see me sentient again. Human companion not dead as first feared.
Really, of course, it's about food. It's always about food. If I don't get the message rapidly enough, Archie will jump down and run to the door in that Lassie-based "quick, quick, little Timmy is drowning in the crick" sort of way.
If that doesn't rouse me, he returns to the bed and the drama begins again.

I love Jon Carroll. I mean "that Lassie-based 'quick, quick, little Timmy is drowning in the crick…' " What's not to love? The man is a genius. Especially when he writes cat columns. Go read it.

Computer Industry News

Hacker Travails, Slomo Details, Microsoft Fails

Three items from the ever-alert Craig Reynolds:

There's a fantastic story about hackers at DirectTV battling against crackers who were stealing service based on hacked DTV units up on Slashdot.

And this (Craig is an old hand at CGI and movie special effects)

About a year ago when The Matrix came out, there was a flurry of discussion here about the "bullet time" or "Flow-Mo" effect. My long time friend and special effects guru Michael Wahrman pointed out that this effect had been around for a long time, but he couldn't recall the name of the artist who had been using it since the 1980s. Today he sent me this article about "Tim Macmillan's Time-Slice Films" which contains some cool historical clips such as "throwing the dog through the circle camera":
Well now CBS is doing a brute-force version of this concept for "instant replays" at this year's SuperBowl. That page includes a RealVideo clip of a test of the system.

It's almost enough to make me want to go watch the Superbowl. I don't know if the clip is fuzzy because of encoding or my low-speed access.

And finally, this:

The gist of this article at Wired is that in the wake of their big DNS snafu earlier this week, Microsoft seems to be outsourcing its DNS service to Akamai. This makes sense in terms of serving their online customers, but it reflects poorly on their own DNS server products. Furthermore it seems that Akamai, seeking a reliable solution, uses Linux servers.

Web Site of the Week

Web Informant/

I started this column to share my insights with you and to redistribute the insights of my friends. I think you can tell by the frequency with which I quote them that I am quite taken with David Strom's Web Informant and Joe Brancatelli's two columns (Brancatelli File and Tactical Traveller) at Both of them send out e-mail reminders which send me straight to their columns every week. Dave actually distributes his whole column, and has a signup for the email reminder on his website. You can write to Joe Brancatelli and ask to be put on his reminder list as well.

Your tastes in non-fiction may not be as eclectic as mine, but if you're interested in web/connectivity issues and ever travel on business, you'll find these both interesting.



See, the problem is that God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.
- Robin Williams

The Top 15 Signs You're NOT on Temptation Island

Hanging on by the skin of my teeth at No. 14, I made the list again after a long absence.

January 25, 2001
"Temptation Island" is a new reality-based TV show in which couples are placed on an island where their fidelity is tempted by a number of hot-bodied, scantilly-clad gym dwellers.
15> Your best offer so far? BRANDI6969@AOL.COM has invited you to chat..."
14> Instead of T&A, your daily temptation is all about cheesecake and chocolate.
13> The biggest boobs around belong to your 14-year-old son.
12> The name of the island is Rikers, the only person trying to get into your pants is your cellmate.
11> Everyone speaks German.
10> The four geezers in the hot tub are singing "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" instead of "My Girl."
9> The most tempting things on your island are the roller coaster and the corn dogs.
8> The clueless bastard coming on to you looks just like the ex-president.
7> After the sweaty advances of the local man-flesh, the only temptation you have is to dive into shark-infested waters and swim back to the mainland.
6> The only person hitting on you is a volleyball named Wilson.
5> Nightclub entertainment consists of a wind-up chimp banging on a tin drum.
4> The only time someone tries to grab your coconuts is when the Professor's making another Geiger counter.
3> Creepy old Fidel keeps trying to tempt you with a spare roll of toilet paper.
2> Sister Mary Margaret keeps whacking you with that ruler every time you cop a feel.
and's Number 1 Sign You're NOT on Temptation Island...
1> No STD concerns, but they did screen all single women for osteoporosis.
[ The Top 5 List ] [ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 103 submissions from 56 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Scott Sistek, Seattle, WA -- 1 (10th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 14
Chris White, Irvine, CA -- List owner/editor

The Top 15 Terrorist Pet Peeves

I am suddenly back in business, after weeks of not making the top 15 list, with this appearance at No. 9:

January 26, 2001
15> Only being able to fit one carry-on explosive in the overhead bin.
14> Wish people would call them "Political Mayhem Specialists" like it says on the business cards.
13> Your group life insurance premium goes sky high every time a co-worker blows himself up.
12> Having to show two forms of fake ID when buying bomb-making materials.
11> The way hostages snicker when your partner secretly sets your cell phone to ring "Happy Birthday To You."
10> Hostages who try to play that old "Oh yeah? Well Allah told ME that you should let me go!" game.
9> Premature interrogation.
8> Just when you're in the zone for your suicide bombing, your friggin' fertilizer allergy kicks in.
7> By the time you've finished triple-frisking the delivery boy, the pizza is cold.
6> Jihad coordinators who prefer that we strap dynamite to our bodies and blow ourselves up instead of just writing a strongly-worded letter.
5> Those damn "Zesty" ads.
4> None of your terrorist buddies will ride in your car bomb so you can use the HOV lane.
3> Friggin' childproof caps on Anthrax containers.
2> Coach bin Laden always sprays you with spittle during his halftime anti-American rants.
and's Number 1 Terrorist Pet Peeve...
1> Knowing that when he reads your letter, the new American President will not only mispronounce your name, he'll also say "nuke-U-lar."
[ The Top 5 List ] [ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 113 submissions from 61 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Jody LaFerriere, Leominster, MA -- 1 (2nd #1)
Slick Sharkey, Miami, FL -- 1 (25th #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 9
Chris White, Irvine, CA -- List owner/editor


None This Week

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


Ginger Again

A brief note from Jim Forbes:

Ginger is actually the IBM PC2

Once again, the Internet makes me an unwilling, unknowing copyright infringer; Dan Grobstein says:

I think that the unattributed jokes in your column this week are George Carlin's, probably from his book "Brain Droppings."

No copyright theft intended!

My anonymous correspondent is back:

On or about Inauguration Day 1969, Herbert Block (aka Herblock) (who typically provides the most insightful political analysis available in the nation; on the atypical days, a Canadian import by the name of Trudeau finishes first) offered a free shave to the President who swore out a false oath (something about knowingly failing to preserve and protect) on that day. Herblock later regretted it. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity to exercise the full range of your First Amendment rights in the allegedly humorous section of your column now as opposed to waiting for 100 days or so. Do so. Rights unused wither.
While we're on the topic, what's a 5 letter synonym for bipartisanship? Hint: Sometimes also used to describe a container for cheese.
Being politically unaware as I am, I fail to understand Brancatelli's ambiguous reference to a Presidential felon (singular). Was he thinking of Johnson, Carter, Reagan, GHWBush, or the one who got the free shave?
Similarly still being politically unaware as I am, I fail to understand Brancatelli's ambiguous reference to a Presidential actor (singular). Was he thinking of Reagan, GWBush, or Cheney?

I've always been terrible at crossword puzzles. What is a five-letter word for a cheese container?

Remember my research into "When it's Apple Blossom time in Orange, New Jersey?" Well, I followed the Internet and my friend Daniel Dern, bought the CD, and discovered this nonsense song, sung by Danny Kaye, is just a few lines long:

When it's cherry blossom time in Orange, New Jersey
We'll make a peach of a pair.
I know we cantaloupe
But honeydew be mine.

And as Edith Ann used to say, that's the end of that.

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