PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 8

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

Feb. 26, 2001

A Good Newspaperman

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

  • Live Webcast
  • Old Friends Are The Best
  • A Good Newspaperman
  • Trudeau Vs. Bush
  • William Safire's Rules For Writers

Computer Industry News

  • Quick Hits

Web Site of the Week

  • Repcheck


  • Reporters and Editors
  • Male Orgasm Vs. Female




  • Coming Soon, I hope

General News

Live Webcast!

A million things can go wrong. A thousand things probably will. But the key to live broadcasting, whether on the web or over the air, is preparation. In my case, I've been preparing all my life for live newscasting. Just because almost no one has noticed and I rarely get the chance to use these skills doesn't mean I don't have them.

If you're awake at 6 am eastern, 9 am pacific, 2:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time on Monday Feb. 26 or Tuesday Feb. 27, listen here. If you have Real Audio G2 you'll hear me anchoring a live webcast of the Appeals Court hearing on the Microsoft Antitrust case. If we're both very lucky.

I'll be filling in breaks with TechWeb Legal Analyst Peter Peckarsky, a Washington-based lawyer specializing in intellectual property and antitrust law with the firm of Stevens, Davis, Miller & Mosher.

I have some allergies, and my nerves are making sleep difficult. Still, I'm taking care of the important things: Rae and I are off to the SF Ballet Sunday afternoon. Wish me luck.

Old Friends Are The Best Friends

I have mentioned Gourmet Group before in this column; four couples who have been dining together for 20 years on a quarterly basis. We each make a course, and bring it to the host's house. Last night was a lovely evening of veal, vichyssoise and conversation. One couple brought the Who Want's To Be A Millionaire board game. I blew the million dollar question--what is alektorophobia. I said fear of bulls. Turns out to be fear of chickens. Well, I'll do better on TV.

Anyway, dining with eight people you've known for two decades is about as much fun as it is possible to have with your clothes on. Makes for a lively evening.

A Good Newspaperman

I shared the Boston UPI bureau with a hard-working reporter named Dick Taffe. I knew he came from a newspapering family, but I had no idea how far back it went until I got this from him on the UPI alumni wire last week:

When we buried my father last week (Richard Taffe, Sr., 80, ex-AP/Boston; Waltham, Mass., News-Tribune; Northern Virginia Sun; Lowell, Mass., Sun; and a 30-year military career intervening with several PIO slots, including Asst.Sec.Def's information office lately occupied by Ms. Tripp), my brother included in his eulogy a poem our Dad had read at the funeral of his father (Arthur Leo Taffe, AP/Boston; Boston Record-American). I thought it may interest Downholders who may not have seen it.

A covered typewriter, an empty chair.
A newspaperman once sat there.
The facts he gathered, the words he bled
were mostly things that others said.
His life was tangled in a web of news,
and the things he caught were events and views.
Most folks' lives are counted in years,
but his were stories of hopes and fears.
He fed on facts and thirsted for truth.
He walked among the high, the low and uncouth.
He hated the pompous, pitied the fool
and had no patience for a stupid rule.
All he wanted for his own epitaph
was a single-sentence paragraph,
written on stone and stuck in sand:
"He was a good newspaperman."

Trudeau Vs. Bush

From my anonymous correspondent: the paragraph below is a comment by Garry Trudeau (the writer behind the Doonesbury comic strip). It's in the Jan 8, 2001 issue of the New Yorker:

"My suspicion is that the Bushes' seeming antipathy for me stems from a certain traitor to his class incomprehension. Because, on paper, I'm one of them. Anyway, it's true; the election result is good for me. Bush is this stable hard target. It's as if Quayle had won. Plus you have the wonderful narrative of how he got where he now is. It took his brother, his father, his father's friends, the Florida secretary of state, and the Supreme Court to pull it off. His entire life gives fresh meaning to the phrase 'assisted living.'"

William Safire's Rules for Writers

Remember to never split an infinitive.
The passive voice should never be used.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.
Never use a preposition to end a sentence with.
Avoid annoying alliteration.
Don't verb nouns.
Don't use no double negatives.
Make each pronoun agree with their antecedent.
When dangling, watch your participles.
Don't use commas, which aren't necessary.
Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
About those sentence fragments.
Try to not ever split infinitives.
Its important to use apostrophe's correctly.
Always read what you have written to see if you've any words out.
Correct spelling is esential.
Proofread you writing.
Between you and I, case is important.
Verbs has to agree with their antecedents.

Computer Industry News

Quick Hits

My colleague Serdar notes:

Microsoft is putting their foot in their mouth again

Two from Craig Reynolds:

I'm flummoxed by finding myself on the same side of an issue with Kenneth Starr:

Starr Warns Against Settling MS Case

Me too, Craig.

Craig also found musical line printers. He adds:

Wow, I remember hearing this -- long, long ago.

Me too, Craig. John Ankcorn, a high school and college classmate (class of 1974, but didn't finish his BS until 1999) worked weekends in some data center in 1967 or 68, and invited me over to hear music he played by putting an AM radio on top of a card sorter. He also built one of those lights and switches personal computers. I didn't get it.

Web Site of the Week


The wave of the future or another dumb idea destined for the dustbin of history? You be the judge, but you can also see what Rafe Needleman thinks of it it.


Reporters and Editors

Tim Gartner sent me this journalism joke:

Three hunters stop at a convenience store in Maine to purchase supplies. "I notice you folks don't have a dog," said the storeowner. "You can rent mine for $50 a day. His name's 'Reporter,' and he's the best hunting dog around here."
The three hunters talk it over, and agree to rent Reporter. Their money was well spent as the dog did everything a good hunting do is supposed to do: point, flush, retrieve...and their hunt is a successful one.
As the hunting season progresses, the hunters use Reporter again and again with continuing success, although the savvy storeowner ups the price to $250/day as it's obvious the dog is a winner.
The next hunting season begins and the three hunters are there for the second weekend. The go to the store and ask the owner if Reporter is available.
The owner looks dejected and replies, "Yep he is, and you can have him for $5 a day." The hunters are incredulous. "Five bucks? For Reporter? Are you kidding?"
"Nope," says the owner. "Last weekend, some idiot hunters took Reporter out with them. They called him 'Editor' by mistake and now all he does is sit on his ass and bark."

Male Orgasm Vs. Female

Mildly smutty, mildly amusing, Javascript-based humor. Click the one for boys first.



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


Coming Soon, I Hope

Vicious, immutable deadlines for the live webcast prevent me from processing some very serious material I got this week from Richard Dalton and some very funny material I got from Don Davis. Fans of these two writers will want to come back next week.

To obtain a weekly reminder when new columns are posted or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism write to me:

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