PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 9

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

March 5, 2001

A Few Funny Things

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 Redux
  • Rae's First Competitive Bout
  • Gruntled
  • Dalton on Medicine and the Internet

Computer Industry News

  • Quick Hits

Web Site of the Week

  • God and the Columbia River


  • Cinderella and the Cat


  • Fan Mail, Not Some Flounder


  • Gore at Columbia, Fear of Vanna, Lorem Ipsum, Shakespaw, UPI vs USMC

General News

Live Webcast! (Redux)

A million things can go wrong. But only a few did. The live webcast last week went off, well, not without a hitch, but with only a few hitches. You can find it at TechWeb Today.

I'll lead you to one mildly amusing part that you'd have to listen to about four hours of webcast in order to catch. Here's the setup: live webcast, audio only. Judges due back at 1:45. Previous three breaks, I stepped on the opening lines from the court, so I stopped my cross chat with our analyst, figuring the ever-prompt judiciary would only take a moment or two to arrive. Boy, was I surprised, and not in a pleasant way.

I think this is funny; I hope you will too. It runs 4:12.8, and requires a RealAudio G2 player.

Rae's First Competitive Bout

I had the privelege of watching regional qualifying fencing bouts at Swordplay Academy in Concord, where Rae has been taking fencing lessons for nearly three years. It was the first time she had fenced competitively. She was in a field of 8 girls and finished second (winning 5 of her seven round-robin bouts), which means she qualifies automatically as a "C' fencer in national quals this summer. And, of course, she won a silver medal. Congratulations Rae!

While we're on the subject of Rae, here's a picture of her, dressed up for a party on March 3.


Daniel Dern forwarded this essay on the word "gruntled":

Having suffered through what seems like more than my share of jokes from cheerful people who announce to the world that "I'm a _gruntled_ employee!!", I found this interesting:
This weekend on NPR's "Rewind", the "Ask The Librarian" segment focused on the word "disgruntled" (why, for instance, is no one ever described as "gruntled").
As it turns out "gruntle" is in fact a word being either a diminutive of "grunt" (meaning "to emit a low or soft grunt") or as a frequentive (meaning to "murmur or complain").
Now the prefix "dis" in most cases is, of course, privative, reversing the usual meaning of the root word (as in "disassemble" or "disavow"). However in a more much rarer sense (def 5 in OED) it can be used --as it is here-- as an intensfier (as "disannul", or, perhaps, "disembowel").
Thus a "gruntled employee" is one who bitches, but not quite so much as a "disgruntled employee".

(Of course, "gruntled" is now starting to show up in dictionaries as a (badly-formed) backformation from "disgruntled" with a meaning something like "cheerful" on "complacent".)

Dalton on Medicine and the Internet

My friend and colleague Richard Dalton has prostate cancer. I wish he didn't. I wish I didn't have diabetes. Frankly, he's facing the tougher battle just at the moment, and my thoughts and prayers are with him. He has produced an extraordinary column on the subject for, on the intersection of medicine and the Internet, and the rise of the informed medical consumer. I highly recommend it if you're sick, or if you ever expect to be sick. A first class piece of work--like every piece of work Richard has done in the more than two decades I have known him.

Here's how it starts:

Nothing is more frustrating for me than to be faced with a critical decision and feel you don't have the information that you need.
That happened to me recently when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I've always had an avocational interest in medicine and have even consulted in this field. The decisions I have to make, however, will have a major effect on the rest of mylife and I only get to make it once. What I need is reliable knowledge, not ruminations.

Also, Richard subscribes to a newsletter from the SeedPods web site, which recently sent him this letter, which Richard believes could help to focus attention on prostate cancer.

In case some of you haven't seen the announcement in SmartBrief, once more Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has put up a bill to create an Office of Men's Health in Health and Human Services (HHS): Men's Health Act of 2001, HR 632.
Last year Congressman Cunningham put this same bill on the House floor, but it got lost in the rush to adjourn for elections.
This is what happens when we get a PCa survivor with an attitude up on Capitol Hill. We're always making like Rodney Dangerfield whining that we don't get no respect -- well now we've got one of us leading the way.
You might want to go to the Men's Health Network website to see what the bill is about, or to this website, to put HR 632 in the search box and pull up the bill wording.
This time around at least the Secretary of HHS is sensitive to our cause. Secretary Tommy Thompson last year signed a proclamation naming September as PCa Awareness Month when he was Governor of Wisconsin. That's what triggered Donna Pogliano to suggests that we get the rest of the governors to proclaim September.
Though perhaps this bill will have a better chance this time around, it will be no slam dunk.
The key to getting this bill passed lies in our support of it. SUPPORT.

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.

And Craig found this item as well:

FTC charges Microsoft with deceptive advertising

Web Site of the Week

The Columbia River and God

Father David Tyson, the president of the University of Portland, wrote this op-ed article, entitled "Columbia River pastoral position benefits all; Environmental responsibility is a moral matter and a profitable corporate step. Richard Dalton brought it to my attention; now I bring it to yours.


Cinderella and the Cat

I just can't resist a shaggy dog story:

Cinderella is now 75 years old. After a fulfilling life with the now dead Prince, she happily sits upon her rocking chair, watching the world go by from her front porch, with a cat named Bob for companionship.
One sunny afternoon, out of nowhere, appeared the Fairy Godmother. Cinderella said "Fairy Godmother, what are you doing here after all these years?" The Fairy godmother replied, "Cinderella, you have lived an exemplary life since I last saw you. Is there anything for which your heart still yearns?" Cinderella was taken aback, overjoyed, and after some thoughtful consideration and almost under her breath she uttered her first wish: I wish I were wealthy beyond comprehension." Instantly, her rocking chair was turned into solid gold. Cinderella was stunned. Bob, her old faithful cat, jumped off her lap and scampered to the edge of the porch, quivering with fear. Cinderella said, "Oh thank you, Fairy Godmother". The Fairy Godmother replied "It is the least I can do.
What does your heart want for your second wish?" Cinderella looked down at her frail body, and said: "I wish I were young and full of the beauty of youth again". At once, her wish became reality, and her beautiful youthful visage returned. Cinderella felt stirrings inside her that had been dormant for years. A long forgotten vigor and vitality began to course through her.
Then the Fairy Godmother again spoke "You have one more wish, what shall you have?" Cinderella looks over to the frightened cat in the corner and says,"I wish for you to transform Bob, my old cat, into a kind and handsome young man". Magically, Bob suddenly underwent so fundamental a change in his biological make-up, that when complete he stood before her, a man, so beautiful the likes of which neither she nor the world had ever seen, so fair indeed that birds began to fall from the sky at his feet. The Fairy Godmother again spoke, "Congratulations, Cinderella. Enjoy your new life."
And, with a blazing shock of bright blue electricity, she was gone. For a few eerie moments, Bob and Cinderella looked into each other's eyes. Cinderella sat, breathless, gazing at the most stunningly perfect man she had ever seen. Then Bob walked over to Cinderella, who sat transfixed in her rocking chair, and held her close in his young muscular arms.
He leaned in close, blowing her golden hair with his warm breath as he whispered, "I bet you regret having me neutered now, don't you?"


Fan Mail, Not From Some Flounder

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

No such facts this week, but a fan letter for my journalism movie page:

I just found your website today by accident. A great resource! However I'm surprised "All the President's Men" wasn't on your best list! It's No. 1 on my list, followed by "The Paper."
Anyway, I was wondering if you might know where to buy old posters of these films, especially "The Front Page" and "30"? I've searched several movie poster sites but have yet to see them. [I don't. Do any of you?]
Also, I think "Runaway Bride" would fall under your criteria, and I'm not just saying that because Richard Gere plays a USA TODAY reporter. [Ed Note: Nope, but thanks for suggesting it]
Finally, I'd like to direct you to my own list of Journalism quotes. Take a look and feel free to borrow from that page. I'm going to link to your page when I get around to updating. Take care!
"Facing the press is more difficult than bathing a leper." --Mother Teresa, 1990
Cesar G. Soriano
Entertainment Reporter


Gore at Columbia, Fear of Vanna, Lorem Ipsum, Shakespaw, UPI vs USMC

Marlow recommends this Newsweek story which mentions, briefly, him being serenaded by the Columbia University Marching Band, of which she is a member.

Robert Kaplan, after reading last week that I failed to guess the meaning of a word in a rousing home game of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, checks in with this:

I thought alectrophobia was a fear of Vanna White...

Not too much farther off then I was.

Craig Reynolds passes on two web site recommendations. Better read the first one quick; the LA Times starts charging for articles after a week or two.

Recommended by Dan Gillmor :
Courtney Love Seeks to Rock Record Labels' Contract Policy

Craig said the article What does the filler text "lorem ipsum" mean? reminded him of me. Can't imagine why.

Well, if Cecil Adams can solve a conundrum, perhaps I can too. Who is Shakespaw, the author of Hamlet's Cat, cited previously in this column? Naomi in Philadelphia wrote to ask, and I wouldn't mind knowing either.

This note comes from the UPI alumni email list:

Agree with the comparison of UPI and AP with Marine Corps and Army. But let's not forget that both are military organizations.
I think it was one of Herman Wouk's characters in The Caine Mutiny who opined that the military was an organization designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. I came away from my decade at UPI believing that the wire services had similar characteristics, with the "design" and "execution" components reversed.

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