PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 20

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

June 4, 2001

Get Clippy

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.

Some Material in this column comes from anonymous incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Arial (Sans Serif) type font to distinguish it from the original material

Table of Contents:

General News:

    • Jim Lehrer on Journalism
    • Camping Behind.
    • Stats Time.
    • Non-Destructive Chain Letter.

Computer Industry News:

    • A Microsoft Roundup.

Web Site of the Week:

    • Get Clippy.


  • The Top 12 Fashion Tips From TopFive Contributors
  • The Top 15 Items on Timothy McVeigh's To-Do List


  • The Dish
  • Pearl Harbor


  • Notes From Here and There (David Ferdinand, Craig Reynolds, Gore Vidal's latest book)

General News

Jim Lehrer on Journalism

It [journalism] continues at times to embarrass me, to annoy me, anger me even occasionally. The causes of my concern are out there for all to see, of course — a tendency of journalism to be something akin to professional wrestling, something to watch rather than to believe. The savagery of some of the so-called new journalism, marked by predatory stake- outs, coarse invasions of privacy, talk show shouting, no-source reporting and other techniques, the stunning new blurring of the old lines between straight news, analysis and opinion.
A most unjustified arrogance that seems to have afflicted some of my colleagues. It can be seen in a stench of contempt in their approach, words, sneers and body language that say loud and clear, "Only the journalists of America are pure enough to judge all others."

Camping Behind

The headline, I admit, is a little cute, since last week's headline was "Camping Ahead."

Well, we all went up to Salt Point State Park with out sleeping bags and tent. It was so windy Rae had to sit in the tent so we could stake it down; otherwise it would have blown away. It was so windy that, despite having a butane wand, I couldn't light the charcoal until Vicki and Rae, using towels, formed a human shield around the barbecue. Luckily for us, we precooked the food and had merely to heat it. The wind made it feel really cold.

I have camped numerous times, and never before have I suffered large-scale anxiety attacks while attempting to fall asleep; it was so bad I almost had to take my bag outside. I finally got over it, but I hope this is a one-off, because otherwise my camping days are over.

We hiked about 10 miles around the area over the two days we were there. Vicki and Rae hiked a little more than I did; I blew my knee out scrambling down to a tidal pool and had to sit out the hike around the State Rhododendron Reserve.

Next time, we're going to take a butane cooking stove.

It was fun, and both the four-hour drive and the camping itself were bonding experiences, which was the whole point of the exercise.

Stats Time

The terminally observant among you will have noticed that the odometer at the bottom of the page rolled over 20,000 this week. I am pleased, honored and proud that so many people come to this humble web log (or blog, as they are increasingly known). In 1998, I averaged 50 readers a week. By 2000 it was 80 per week. Then, at election time last year, Fred Langa plugged me in his extremely popular Langa List newsletter, giving me10,000 pageviews in a matter of weeks. In a pattern familiar to Internet aficionados, a handful of the new readers stuck around.

I know between 50 and 100 of you personally--the ones who get a weekly email reminder to come and look at the column. But there are another 100 of you each week that I've never met, attracted by the sheer force of… what? My good writing? My moving political views? My interesting links? My trenchant movie reviews? The sheer spectacle of a man so self-involved that he thinks the world is dying for a weekly dose of his wisdom?

I know why my mother reads this column, and ditto for my daughters, friends and relatives. For the rest of you, thanks for coming, and I'll continue to try to inform, entertain and amuse you on a regular basis.

Non-Destructive Chain Letter

Here's what you're supposed to do. Copy (not forward) this entire e-mail and paste it onto a new e-mail that you will send. Change the answers so that they apply to you. Then, send this to a whole bunch of people you know INCLUDING the person who sent it to you.

The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about your friends. Remember to send it back to the person who sent it to you!

Here are my responses:

LIVING ARRANGEMENT? With my wife and daughter in a big house in the suburbs.

WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? "The Golden Age" by Gore Vidal (can't put it down!) to be followed by Christophern Hitchins "The Trial Of Henry Kissinger."

WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Picture of both my daughters

FAVORITE BOARD GAME? Monopoly is so much fun I hate to blow the game.

FAVORITE MAGAZINES? New Yorker, Private Eye

FAVORITE SMELLS? Jasmine, either in flower or perfume form

WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE MORNING? Grateful to be alive. Try not to get stressed out about the day ahead.



FUTURE DAUGHTER'S NAME? Already have two, Marlow and Rae. I'm partial to the name Michelle as well.

FAVORITE FOODS? My mother's meatloaf, chicken with cherries, tuna noodle casserole, french fries with thousand island dressing.

DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE FAST? Not since my mother sold the '68 GTO, but I sure loved driving that one fast.



FAVORITE BEVERAGE? Pelligrino. Once a month, Dr. Pepper.




YOUR HAIR COLOR ANY COLOR WHAT WOULD IT BE? It's quantity, not color, I'd prefer.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE? Since I met my wife. A couple of times before, not again since.


FAVORITE MOVIES? Groundhog Day, The Paper.

WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED? It's a waterbed.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE NUMBER? 7. Isn't that trite?

FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Baseball live at Pacbell. No sports on TV.

PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? My mother, my brother, my daughter.



Computer Industry News

A Microsoft Roundup

Craig Reynolds writes:

This Wired article (MS Launches Counter PR Attack) led e to the ProComp article about the dangers of Microsoft's
.Net strategy. I read the
two page summary; a 40 page white paper is also available.
Then there was this little snafu which prevents non-Microsoft browsers from using Britain's new government services website: MS Monopolizes U.K. Gov't Site. I tried it using my Mozilla browser running on Linux and the site would not even let me in the front door. See also the scathing LinuxUser article.
Also, from ZDNet: Insurer: Windows NT a high risk.

Web Site of the Week

Get Clippy

Scot Finnie (of the Scot Finnie Newsletter) made this discovery, which I am pleased to share:

I actually laughed out loud looking at Microsoft's Office Clippy website:
The link was given to me by a Microsoft tech support rep. If you hate Office's animated paper clip as much as I do, be sure to play the Staple Clippy game. Because Microsoft is supposedly sending Clippy packing (although he's all over Office XP by default again), check out Clippy's resume. They even got Gilbert Gottfried to be the voice of Clippy in the games and animations. Someone with an excellent sense of humor at Microsoft built this website. You're sure to get some yucks out of it.

I, too, laughed out loud. Who knew Microsoft had a sense of humor? Maybe they could start a series: the Clippy and Bob show.


The Top 12 Fashion Tips From TopFive Contributors

We're No. 2!

May 30, 2001
12> Argyle condoms are too "busy."
11> Black suits are slimming. White suits bring out skin tone. Day-Glo prison jump suits are free from the state.
10> Damn, man... Close your robe.
9> Diagonal chainlink? Klingon! Horizontal chainlink? Just makes you look tubby.
8> Douse all garments in grape juice and pizza sauce upon purchase. Get it over with.
7> Dressing in colors that match your cubicle can render you invisible to your boss.
6> Emulating film and music stars is usually considered chic, but take my word for it -- trying to duplicate Jennifer Lopez's ass is just... not... worth it.
5> Sure, a tight black sweater looks good now, but what's it going to look like after the milk shoots out your nose?
4> "Days of the Week" underpants are a double-edged sword.
3> A T-shirt covered in vomit is always cleaner on the inside.
2> Plaid goes with everything; everything goes with plaid.
and's Number 1 Fashion Tip From Our Contributors...
1> You will never wet your underwear if you do not wear underwear.
[ The Top 5 List ] [ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 162 submissions from 61 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Sam Evans, Charleston, SC -- 1, 3 (15th #1/Hall of Famer)
Martin Bredeck, Hybla Valley, VA -- 2, 4
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 2
Chris White, Los Angeles, CA -- List owner/editor

The Top 15 Items on Timothy McVeigh's To-Do List

No. 12 -- who could ask for anything more?

June 1, 2001
15> Finally tell off that loudmouth weight lifter in the exercise yard.
14> Same as every other nutcase -- blame the whole thing on MTV's "Jackass."
13> Take another crack at that damn "Hideously Unfair and Absolutely Biased Top5 Contributor Test."
12> Speed reading!
11> Decide on last words: "I'll see you in Hell, Will Rogers" or "Sorry, I don't do drugs."
10> Crochet another dozen baby blue afghans for the boys of Terre Haute.
9> In preparation for some serious ass-kissing, get that "Satan's Bitch" tattoo.
8> Plot the violent overthrow of a corrupt government -- at least until this damned prison makes a proper double latte.
7> Cancel date for New Year's Eve.
6> Have the last laugh by officially changing name to "Poopie Farter," resulting in hilarious headlines the next morning.
5> Cancel that subscription to Dangerous Loner Digest.
4> Leave care and feeding instructions for Mr. Jingles with warden.
3> Ask the guard if it's not too late to change answers on the warden's "How'm I Doin'?" comment card.
2> "Lethally inject" a case of Old Milwaukee.
and's Number 1 Item on Timothy McVeigh's To-Do List...
1> Break down, cry like a little girl and wet my pants. Repeat hourly.
[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 145 submissions from 53 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
David W. James, Los Angeles, CA -- 1 (23rd #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 12
Chris White, Los Angeles, CA -- List owner/editor


The Dish

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

It's funny; like everyone born in 1952, I remember exactly where I was when I heard JFK had been shot. But unlike most of my generation, I'm a little dim on the first step on the moon. It was the summer after my junior year in high school, and frankly, I was concentrating on my job as the 8pm-midnight Sunday night talk show host at KLIQ and KLIQ-FM, as well as my Saturday stint as a rock and roll disk jockey for KVAN. At the moment Neal Armstrong set foot on the moon, I was doing my show. We could have taken the ABC network audio, but my boss, Dave Jack, decided to counter program. Not surprisingly, I went three hours with no caller other than my mother. And although I've seen the first step a hundred times on tape, I didn't get to watch it live, because I was in the announcer's booth at the radio station, exhorting people to talk to me.

Anyway, I was a science buff, a rocket fan, determined to get into MIT (which I did a few months later), and yet I don't remember being as excited about the runup to the lunar excursion as the people in The Dish.

Director Rob Sitch has created a very cute, funny film, along with writers Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Jane Kennedy. Sam Neill turns in a first-class performance as the protagonist, and Patrick Warburton (Puttey on Seinfeld) does a delightfully entertaining turn as a stiff NASA engineer among the laid back Aussies.

You probably saw the previews; an Australian radio telescope picked up the TV signals from the moon and relayed them to the world, despite a few problems along the way.

In the interests of historical accuracy, as one web site noted: "It was the Honeysuckle Creek Radio Telescope (30 km south of Canberra ) that actually received the first moon landing signals and not the one located at Parkes," as shown in the movie. "The Honeysuckle Creek site is now nothing more than some old carparks and building foundations while the real dish is now located some 20 km south of Canberra at Tidbinbilla."

Well, still, I can forgive some diddling with history in a cute, warm, human-scale Australian film like this one, based on an obscure piece of history. It is hard to forgive large-scale historical mayhem committed on a major historical event (see the next review).

I saw it in a second-run theater; it's probably left your town. Catch it on tape when it comes around. Fine family viewing, despite a tiny bit of course language. Very inspirational, clever and heart-warming.

Pearl Harbor

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Now I know what they mean by the pornography of violence. The 20-30 minute sequence in the middle of this three-hour film which shows the actual bombing of Pearl Harbor is a tour de force of modern computerized film making. It's very impressive.

But this film is way too long, and you know how I feel about long films. The love story is flimsy, the history is terrible. It is entertaining, and it almost passed the watch test (I rarely looked at my watch). The cameos were cute. Such a shame; it could have been just as entertaining, while being about 50% more accurate, had the filmmakers chosen to go that route. They didn't. More's the pity. See it if you must, but Memento is a better film, and was made for what Pearl Harbor spent on coffee and doughnuts for the crew.



Notes From Here and There

I just finished reading Gore Vidal's "The Golden Age." I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it. It covers American politics from 1939 to 1954. I started both Burr and Lincoln and couldn't finish them, but now I'm going to go back and try again. That's how much I liked this book.

FYI, Vidal thinks Roosevelt set us up at Pearl Harbor.

David Ferdinand wrote in about Sen. James Jeffords:

I sang with Jim Jeffords once, he has always been slightly off key. You sing much better than him.

Craig Reynolds recommends Blogging as a Form of Journalism by J.D. Lasica.

The UPI alumni wire noted this headline in passing:

Police evacuate fishermen trapped by wild pigs at nudist beach
PRAGUE, May 31 (CTK) --

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

Paul Schindler Home Page | PS...ACOT archives | Journalism Movies

You are visitor number

since October 16, 1998