PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Vol. 4 No. 41

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

October 29, 2001

Long Beach Is A Long Way

I no longer have a day job, so every word of this is my opinion, and if you don't like it, lump it. This offer is NOT void in Wisconsin.

Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Arial (Sans Serif) type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material

Family photos 1, 2, 3

Table of Contents:

General News:

    • Long Beach Is A Long Way
    • Prop 13?
    • War News from Craig
    • Blatant Plug Department: Targus for Airline and Overseas Power.

Computer Industry News:

    • Son Of DCMA from Craig

Web Site of the Week:

    • War Humor from Bob Djurdjevic


    • The Wonder of 11
    • GOP Joke




General News

Long Beach Is A Long Way

Let's cut right to the chase. At the Long Beach Invitational fencing tournament, Rae came in sixth in women's épée and won her national rating. National fencing ratings run from A to E; Rae is now rated a D. Most fencers are unrated.

The tournament was held at California State University, Long Beach, a large and beautiful campus in that Southern California port city, about 45 minutes south of Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades, about 8 hours (with a dinner stop) south of Orinda.

On the way down on Friday, we stopped at a truck stop (formerly Burns Brothers, now TA), and had an edible meal. On the way back, we stopped at the Harris Ranch near Coalinga and had a darn good meal, featuring, well, steak. As we entered and left, we got a good whiff of what you have to live with if you grow beef cattle for a living. Whew!

We checked into a modest hotel close to campus at about midnight on Friday, and Rae had to register at 7 am for a 9 am start. We had breakfast at Denny's (well, it beat Jack In The Box. By a little).

Saturday was mixed épée, which means men fence against women. Is this fair? The first eight finishers in this event were all men. Rae fenced a man in his 60s.

After her first round of direct elimination, we drove to Pacific Palisades for dinner with her grandmother, Lynne, who was kind enough to give her a 44-year-old hand-made Spanish flamenco acoustic guitar that Lynne no longer plays. We installed email at Lynne's house, although I'm not sure she's using it yet.

Sunday, it was women's épée. Rae did well in the qualifying round and won two direct elimination bouts, before being defeated in the third round. Her sixth place finish means she did better in her bouts than two other girls in the round of eight, and it also meant she won a lovely crystal trophy, which has roses in it as I write this.

I hate long drives, but I love giving Rae a chance to compete. She's looking forward to the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas, and is seriously considering the Honolulu Open in February (Hello Harrison!)

Prop 13

I was hoping for some response to my call to action to revise Proposition 13. The response was, curiously, muted.

War News

Craig Reynolds checks in:

This 'blog offers "factual, no-nonsense information about the tension between liberty and security during wartime."
"get your war on" a recently launched cartoon strip, is a little too raw for my tastes. Yet I have to say I really enjoyed this strip.

Blatant Plug Department: Targus For Airline and Overseas Power

If you fly a lot (like I used to), you sometimes end up in business class, where they have those cigarette lighter outlets you could use to power your PC, if you had an adapter. The very best adapter in the world is made by Targus, which also makes a bunch of cool international power conversion stuff, if you travel overseas a lot.

Anyway, their $135 auto/air power adapter has "power tips" to match your PC. You can't plug them in backwards or upside down (unlike, say, Radio Shack power tips), and they appear to be precision machined. Anyway, they send you a free one every time you switch portables, which I have done four times. No questions asked, and they send it out priority mail the day you call or email them.

Hurrah for old-fashioned customer service and a very useful product.

Computer Industry News


I share Craig Reynolds' aversion to the DCMA; here's the latest on that abomination:

I am quick to anger at monopolies and other abuses of corporate power, so I spend a lot of my time being pissed off at Microsoft. However the entertainment conglomerates, especially those record company weasels, are on my love-to-hate list at number 2, with a bullet. Note that in the interest of full disclosure, I am employed by a Sony company, so I benefit indirectly by Sony Music's complicity in these matters.
The major music labels have begun to release music CDs with copy-protection measures. These so-called "anti-rip" CDs use heavy-handed techniques such as adding digital noise to the music signal during CD mastering. The notion is that CD players built as audio components will error-correct the noise, but the CD drive on your computer will interpret it as bad data and refuse to play the CD. The lunacy of this approach astounds me ("we'll put a little rat poison in the cookies to punish any cookie thieves") as does the mind set that assumes its customers are criminals until proven innocent. But the thing that is just crazy about this is that whether you want to convert your CDs to MP3s or not, this approach will prevent you from playing music CDs on your computer. In my own case, the only place I ever play CDs is on my laptop, so I guess I'll just have to stop buying CDs, period:
UK campaigners call for anti 'anti-rip' CD day of action
US record label sued over anti-rip CD technology
The greed and corruption of the music industry knows no bounds. Not satisfied with the Draconian anti-free-speech, anti-fair-use provisions of the DMCA, they now want even tougher laws to protect their profits at the expense of consumer's rights:
Music biz wants tougher DMCA, CPRM 2 to protect copyright
Despite the extraordinary power they wield in the courts due to the legislation they have purchased with donations to lawmakers, there may be occasions when they still cannot exercise complete control over legitimate Fair Use by their customers. In those cases, they want the right to conduct vigilante action. This might not have been well known except for the fact that one of the recent competing anti-terrorist bills would have made them criminally liable for such breaking and entering. They made an ill-considered attempt to specifically exempt themselves from liability from their terrorist tactics:
RIAA Wants to Hack Your PC
On the bright side, see these two items: Dan Bricklin on how "Copy Protection Robs The Future" and good news about legislation and anti-trust investigations aimed at reining in the rabid music companies "And Now: Assault on Music Labels."
I was pleased to see this, blows against the empires of both Microsoft and DRM:
MS digital rights management scheme cracked
Here are some updates on the SSSCA, a proposed law that is doing its best to be even more intrusive and anti-consumer than the DMCA, a blog entry by Dan Gillmor and an article from CNET:
Digital Controls Senate Hearing Postponed
Tech giants pan anti-piracy mandate

Web Site of the Week

War Humor

I don't often get humorous referrals from my old friend Bob Djurdjevic, but he found this funny flash that "puts a humorous spin on a sad situation." It's a "get Bin Laden" fantasy that involves a semi-professional song parody.


The Wonder Of 11?

As usual with Internet Humor, the author credits had long disappeared before this washed up on my shore, courtesy of Dan Grobstein. I really enjoyed it, since most numerology is crap.

Original Letter:
The date of the attack: 9/11 - 9 + 1 + 1 = 11.
September 11th is the 254th day of the year: 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
After September 11th there are 111 days left to the end of the year.
119 is the area code to Iraq/Iran. 1 + 1 + 9 = 11
Twin Towers - standing side by side, looks like the number 11
The first plane to hit the towers was Flight 11
I Have More.......
State of New York - The 11th State added to the Union
New York City - 11 Letters
Afghanistan - 11 Letters
The Pentagon - 11 Letters
Ramzi Yousef - 11 Letters (convicted or orchestrating the attack at the
WTC in 1993)
Flight 11 - 92 on board - 9 + 2 = 11
Flight 77 - 65 on board - 6 + 5 = 11
The response:
Oh my God! How worried should I be? There are 11 letters in my name! I'm going into hiding NOW. See you in a few weeks. Wait a sec ... just realized "YOU CAN'T HIDE" also has 11 letters! What am I gonna do? Help me!!! The terrorists are after me! ME! I can't believe it! Oh crap, there must be someplace on the planet Earth I could hide! But no ..."PLANET EARTH" has 11 letters, too!
Maybe Nostradamus can help me. But dare I trust him? There are 11 letters in "NOSTRADAMUS."
I know, the Red Cross can help. No they can't... 11 letters in "THE RED CROSS," can't trust them.
I would rely on self defense, but "SELF DEFENSE" has 11 letters in it, too! Can someone help?
Anyone? If so, send me email. No, don't... "SEND ME EMAIL" has 11 letters....
Will this never end? I'm going insane! "GOING INSANE???" Eleven letters!! Nooooooooooo!!!!!! I guess I'll die alone, even though "I'LL DIE ALONE" has 11 letters.....
Oh my God, I just realized that America is doomed! Our Independence Day is July 4th ... 7/4 ... 7+4=11!
PS. "IT'S BULLSHIT" has 11 letters also.

GOP Humor

The GOP National Committee announced today that it is changing the Republican emblem from an elephant to a condom, which more clearly reflects the party's political stance. A condom stands up to inflation, halts production, destroys the next generation, protects a bunch of pricks, and gives one a sense of security while screwing others.
It was also reported today that at a White House staff meeting last week, there was heated discussion about reports concerning the health of Vice President Cheney and his angina condition. President Bush interrupted to state emphatically that "men do not have anginas." He was especially perplexed when a staffer informed him that Cheney has "acute angina."



You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database





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