PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 37

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

October 1, 2001

All Reaction, All The Time

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:

    • Early Reader Bonus
    • Times That Try
    • The New Yorker and Dan Rosenbaum on Rudy
    • No More Carryon!
    • Thoughtful Flying Commentary

Computer Industry News:

    • PGP Creator: Not Feeling Guilty

Web Site of the Week:

    • The Onion


    • A Non-Violent Solution
    • The Top 16 Signs It's Time to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet.
    • The Inaccurate Predictions Of Nostradamus.



    • Funny Stories

General News

Early Reader Bonus

If you read last week's column early, you may well have been scratching your head, asking yourself, as did Peggy Coquet, "Where's the full text of the speech as Bush should have given it?" The link is fixed now, but it was missing until mid-day Monday. If you haven't read it yet, I still recommend it.

Times That Try

A quote appropriate for these times, that came up when Rae was trying to give me an example of iambic quatrameter, is "These are the times that try men's souls." I wondered where it came from and found this on the Internet:

It was during this time, in the very depths of despair, let me repeat, that General Von Stueben said that a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine "would produce a better effect than all the recommendations of Congress, in prose and verse."
He was right. It did. It began with these immortal words: "These are the times that try men's souls...." It was called, THE CRISIS. Washington had it read to his soldiers, and I need not tell you what effect it produced. It was on the lips of all the people, and a revolution in sentiment and determination came over the American Colonies. They were once more determined that the war for Independence must be won. Whenever the situation became desperate, whenever another defeat was suffered, these words of Paine reverberated throughout the camps:
"These are the times that try men's souls ... He that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

A Word on Rudy

From the Sept. 24 New Yorker:

One of the mysteries of Guiliani's tenure has always been why, in moments of civic calm, he creates such havoc and then, in genuine crises, behaves so calmly.

My correspondent Dan Rosenbaum reports from Brooklyn Heights:

The city, in many ways, is still under siege. Cops at Ground Zero are prohibiting people from taking photographs. Lower Manhattan is still essentially sealed off from vehicular traffic. Three of the dozen ways of getting to and from Manhattan are still closed -- so traffic is flooding on the others, helped along by with spot vehicle checks. The official response is to ban single-passenger cars from entering below 63rd Street from 6am to noon. New Yorkers being ever-resourceful, traffic now starts backing up at 5 am. [Ed. Note: just like San Francisco!]
And two of the remaining three mayoral candidates have actually agreed to let Rudy stay in office for a couple/three months after his terms would ordinarily expire. Because all three didn't, Rudy's now trying to get the term limits revision to the city charter suspended -- despite the fact that voters said twice that they wanted term limits. Though I do think that limits are a bad idea, this really reeks of suspension of habeas corpus, which I think has only happened here during the Civil War. I wonder what other laws they're going to try to roll back next.
This, you'll recall, is the same mayor who was saying not a week ago that the most important thing we can do is to get back to normal. The first step may be to start hating Rudy again.

No More Carryon!

There's a proposal afoot to prohibit carryon baggage and seat assignments. That's absurd. Here's what I wrote to my congressional representatives. I suggest you write yours as well:

I favor any and all reasonable changes that might reasonably improve airline security.

The fact is, several of the changes already made are pointless, and serve only to discourage flying. The ban on curbside checkin is, of course, absurd, but it is already a fait accompli.

In fact, while sky marshals and better cockpit doors make sense, almost none of the other changes already made would have prevented the skyjackings that took place--these people had tickets and had identification.

But the height of lunacy is the proposal floated in the papers this morning--a ban on carryon baggage and seat assignments. The airlines are proven incompetents when it comes to baggage. They can't get it on the plane, they can't take it to the right place, and it takes them an hour to get it to the baggage carrousel.

If you want to terminally discourage business travel and destroy the US airline, hotel and car rental business, all you have to do is stand by and let the FAA implement these inane, insane proposals.

Thoughtful Flying Commentary

My friend Joe Brancatelli lost his on-line column home, but is soldiering on at his own new web site. He wrote a first-class piece of commentary this week on bigotry in the air:

Brancatelli File: Cowards & Traitors Among Us
One day soon, when our hearts have begun to heal, we will speak about the unspeakable events of September 11. For years to come, when we fully comprehend what we have done, we will lament our government's disastrous decision to make a gift of $5 billion in tax dollars to the airlines. Before all that, though, we must address the cowards and the traitors within our own family of business travelers.

Computer Industry News

PGP Creator: Not Feeling Guilty

Craig Reynolds caught this item in the news, and, more importantly, the correction:

I read the original Washington Post article and was surprised that Phil seemed to have changed his reasoned stance on this issue. Apparently not:
Philip Zimmermann and 'Guilt' Over PGP

Web Site of the Week

The Onion

We need the powerful, tasteless humor of The Onion now more than ever. Two stories forwarded to me this week are among the funniest things I've seen in ages:

Bush Sr. Apologizes To Son For Funding Bin Laden In '80s
MIDLAND, TX--Former president George Bush issued an apology to his son Monday for advocating the CIA's mid-'80s funding of Osama bin Laden, who at the time was resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. "I'm sorry, son," Bush told President George W. Bush. "We thought it was a good idea at the time because he was part of a group fighting communism in Central Asia. We called them 'freedom fighters' back then. I know it sounds weird. You sort of had to be there." Bush is still deliberating over whether to tell his son about the whole supporting-Saddam-Hussein-against-Iran thing.

And this really tasteless story:

Hijackers surprised to find selves in hell
"We expected eternal paradise for this," say suicide bombers.


A Non Violent Solution

To the Taliban from the American people:
Give us Bin Laden, or we will take all of your women and send them to college.

The Top 16 Signs It's Time to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

No. 12 is one of my persistent Macarena submissions that finally made the list.

September 28, 2001
16> "For refill, ring KLondike 6-4-3."
15> The leeches look they might have turned.
14> You've forgotten which one was the rectal thermometer.
13> You just read the most influential book of your life, written by Mary Baker Eddy.
12> They no longer manufacture an anti-Macarena drug.
11> Funny, you don't remember being prescribed mouse turds.
10> That birth control prescription labeled "C. Levy" is more than a bit incriminating.
9> The dim glow from the bathroom is keeping you awake -- but you don't have a night-light.
8> A tiny cockroach rehab clinic has been set up between the aftershave and the aspirin.
7> Why keep that Preparation H? It was the worst-tasting toothpaste ever.
6> The drill bit you use to let the "bad ayre" out of your skull can't be sharpened.
5> Your Viagra has been sitting next to the toothpaste so long that you can't squeeze the tube without dinner, a movie, and 40 minutes of foreplay.
4> Your nosy neighbors leave the bathroom saying, "Don't touch me."
3> The Brylcream can go -- the last time you ran your fingers through your hair was when you cleaned out the drain.
2> There's a skeleton on the other side with a note saying, "Hi, Guy!"
and's Number 1 Sign It's Time to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet...
1> Was there ever really a "Preparation A?"
[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2001 by Chris White ]
Selected from 127 submissions from 47 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Jim Rosenberg, Greensboro, NC -- 1, 16 (32nd #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 12

The Inaccurate Predictions Of Nostradamus

by Fran Liscio
In the mid 1980s just prior to the New Millennium, a Man shall introduce a new mead called New Coke, and the populace shall clamor for it and it shall replace Classic Coke.
In the eighth decade of the 1900s, known as the early-80s, John DeLorean shall successfully pull off a Mojo-stiffening drug deal and finance what will become the most successful fire-driven horse in the known world.
There shall only be one thespian who bears the Family Name of Baldwin.
A beautiful and extremely talented woman of grace shall become famous for her good taste and understatement at theatrical awards shows, and her name will be Christina Aguilera.
The Yugo will replace the Porsche Boxster as the car which will most readily invite sexual congress with women who wear heavy gold jewelry in their ears.
The voters of the village of Palm Beach County in the duchy of "Florida" will prove to the world that retired clothing merchants on Viagra are sage elders who still possess the keen vision and spatial skills of their youth.
The second Millenium will see many fine vocalists, but by far the two most popular warblers of song will be Imelda Marcos and Morton Downey, Jr.
The Personal Computer device will fail to sell as people prefer to purchase their pornography from stores of convenience operated by women who hail from the land of Korea.
The people will invent a mechanical God, and he shall rule the earth forever and they shall call him Tamagotchi.
Navy will become the new Black.


None This Week

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database


Funny Stories

Kind of long, but too good not to share. Forwarded by Daniel Dern:

Usually simply pretty funny, but occasionally over the line to fully qualify for the description "Gord is an Angry Gord," these are tales of owning a video game store:
Excerpts follow:

Another Simple Plan.

A few days before Christmas. Customer asks Gord to hold a used copy of Perfect Dark. The claim is that he'll be back in before Christmas to pick it up.

Christmas comes and goes. Our story continues on Boxing Day.

"Yes, I was in a few days ago. You're holding a copy of Perfect Dark for me."

"Very well then, here it is. $49 plus tax comes to $55.86."

"What about the Boxing day sale?"

"What about it?"

"It should be on sale."

"That applies to merchandise on the floor, not titles being held."

"That's false advertising."

"Just because you say it is doesn't make it so."

"Very well. I just won't buy it then. I'll just wait till you put out, then I'll buy it."

"No, that's quite alright. I've got a waiting list for it now."

"Fine. I'll buy it."

"Buy what?"

"Perfect Dark."

"I'm sold out."

"You have one right there!"

"Yes, but you said you didn't want it. It's now on hold for someone else. See the post-it note with the name 'Dave' on it? You're not Dave."

"I'm leaving!"

"That would be the end goal of my actions. Door is to your left."



"Gamer's Edge"

"I'd like to find out what some of my games are worth in trade."


<customer lists off games, Gord compiles prices, gives breakdown and then total.>

"That's it? $95?!"

"Well, most of your games are of low resale value and sell for $20 new. You've only got one that's really 'good' in terms of reselling quickly."

"You're a rip-off!"

"You're welcome to your opinion, even if it is wrong."

"I'm going to your competition! They'll give me more."

"You do that."


<10 minutes later>


"Gamer's Edge"

"Yes, I phoned a few minutes ago. You quoted me $95 for some game trades."

"That is true, but now it's worth $88."


"Because I can. Obviously since you're calling back, you were offered less from everyone else. So I conclude that I can give you less now."

"But you offered $95!"

"And you called me a rip-off. I'm far above petty theft. If I was going to enter the criminal underworld, I'd be one of the masterminds."

"What does that mean?"

"That means you'll get $88 for your games."

"I'm never dealing with you again!"


<2 hours later>

<customer walks in and looks at used games. He then chooses one for $49 and one for $39, totaling $88>

"I'd like to trade these games in please and buy these 2 games please."

"Very well then. That'll be 10 cents please."


"You're games are worth $87.90 in trade."

"But you said $88!"

"I say a lot of things."

"Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because you annoyed me. Perhaps if you had been more polite, all this could have been avoided."

<dramatic pause>

"That'll be ten cents please."


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

Family photos 1, 2, 3

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

You are visitor number

since October 16, 1998