PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.

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

I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.

To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

P.S. A Column On Things: May 13, 2002

May 13, 2002 Vol. 4, No. 19

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Teaching Advice
  • I'm Just An Old Macro Writer
  • Great Paper By Mary Rowe

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
  • Death Of Internet Radio?

Web Site of the Week

  • Red Meat


  • The Top 14 Signs Your Co-Worker Has "Star Wars" Fever
  • The Top 13 Surprises in the New Kama Sutra (Part I)


  • Unfaithful


  • Cringeley, The Klez Virus, 60s Comedy, Oversensitive, Funny Furniture, The Other Russell Baker, The Farm Bill, Dan Rosenbaum's Latest

General News

Teaching Advice

Those with long memories will recall that I published my teaching philosophy last week. I got a very thoughtful response from one of my correspondents:

Each child has come to this life with a gift and a purpose. As teacher or parent to that child, it is to help them find the spark of that gift, and to help them grow and share the talent. Some of those talents will not have anything to do with knowing the dates of the civil war. Some of those gifts will have nothing to do with academics in general. But if you remind each student that he or she is definitely special in some area of capacity for knowledge or ability or character, then you can joyously help each one find out if his or her gift is a strange and entertaining sense of humor, or the skill to concentrate on small numbers for thirty years, or the wisdom to teach a thousand children that each one of them has something to contribute to their town, to the world, and to the Body of God. We challenge you to help each one of them find what gives them Joy. We know it will pay you back in equal Joy for yourself. The Universe needs every cartoonist, every fisherman, every gnat, every playwriter, and every nerd in every laboratory. Some of them, dear friend, don't even really need to know how to write like a journalist. Please love them anyway, and you will be the Best Teacher.

The reference to the Civil War stems from my citation of its dates as one of the facts people should know. As it turns out, I was shocked by someone who called to say she didn't know when the Civil War was--I won't name names. But I may revise my opinion of the importance of that particular fact. And I concede it is more important to know where and how to find facts, these days, then to memorize them. But if you don't know something, you can't look up anything. That includes, up to a point, spelling, as well as the approximate order in which things happened, historically. But enough; I don't wish to step into another boobytrap, not after reprinting (and, in essence, endorsing) the lovely sentiment above.

I'm Just An Old Macro Writer

We rip the covers of PSACOT and offer you a behind-the-scenes look into... well, my mind.

Craig Reynolds sends his technobriefs to me in an email message each week, and the URLs have to be converted. I realized it was a repetitive process. Aha! I thought. A Macro!

I should explain here that in 1966, my freshman year at Benson High School in Portland, Oregon, we got a Model 32 teletype attached to a GE Timesharing computer in Seattle (the very same one Bill Gates was using at that very moment. I think he got more out of it). My math teacher, the late beloved former Oregon Teacher of the Year Carlton Bryson taught all of us BASIC. It was my first computer language (but far from my last).

When I got my first copy of Microsoft Word, imagine my pleasure and surprise to find that Word Macro language was a variation of Basic. I was in hog heaven. There's almost nothing repetitive you can do by hand in Word that you can't automate. Between the macro recorder and a little programming skill, you can work wonders!

Well, on Saturday morning, I couldn't sleep so I got up to write a macro to prep the URLs in Craig's section of the column. I finished two hours later.

And once more, I faced this dilemma: how many hundreds of years do I have to write this column, with Craig's contribution, before I save more time than it took me to write the macro? Still, I had fun, and now I have another reusable code snippet for the future. It was fun to write. I got into my code trance, and the time just flew.

Great Paper by Mary Rowe

I am writing a paper on gender inequity in science and math education. Along the way, I ran into a terrific paper by the MIT Ombud, available in PDF as Barriers to Equality: The Power of Subtle Discrimination to Maintain Unequal Opportunity, also available in HTML. It turns out we should sweat the small stuff, because it really matters and is really damaging. I copied this paper for everyone in my multiculturalism class.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

More great stuff from Craig again this week, like every week:

US Rep. Rick Boucher (D Virginia) is once again taking a courageous and forward looking stand for the Fair Use rights of consumers. As Declan McCullagh writes in Another DMCA Attack Looms Boucher is about to introduce his bill amending the DMCA to exclude certain circumventions of copy protection when there is no intent to violate copyright.

Speaking of admirable lawmakers, there is a
spectacularly well-written letter from Peruvian Congressman David Villanueva Nuņez to Microsoft Peru. The Congressman manages to deftly refute Microsoft's typically paranoid anti-Open Source propaganda, while simultaneously skillfully attacking the excesses and shortcomings of Microsoft's own practices. See also this page of related materials . Not only did Nuņez soundly trounce Microsoft, but he also scooped most of the tech media outlets regarding Microsoft's conviction of software piracy last year, and the half million dollar fine they paid.

The CEO of Turner Broadcasting, Jamie Kellner, was ranting against PVRs (like Tivo, etc.) and called their ability to skip commercials "theft". He argued that viewers had a "contract" with the broadcaster to sit and watch the commercials. When asked if viewers watching live TV were allowed to go to the bathroom, Keller grudgingly conceded they were. Yale's LawMeme newsletter responded with a satirical piece
Top Ten New Copyright Crimes as well as a serious report refuting Kellner's underlying assumptions: PVRs Not Necessarily the Death of TV Advertising. Dan Gillmor chimed in with Paranoia, stupidity and greed ganging up on the public

BusinessWeek online carried an interview with Lawrence Lessig
The "Dinosaurs" Are Taking *Over : "If the media giants have their way, the Net freedom fighter says, content will be rigidly controlled and innovation stifled."

Microsoft Vice President Jim Allchin
testified at the antitrust remedy hearings that that state's proposal "...would be a bonanza to online vandals and other assorted miscreants..." opening Window's users to a host of viruses and security breeches. Again: thank goodness it's not that way now. It is also worth noting that all of the Linux source code is freely available and Linux is at least as secure as Windows. Many would argue Linux is much more secure.

Blogging news: in
Blogspace Under the Microscope Jon Udell describes self-reinforcing feedback mechanisms evolving between blogs. Casey Marshall's A Picture of Weblogs provides a Java-based visualization of links between weblogs.

Technobits: now we know where Seamus Blackley was headed when he
left Xbox , Sony want to make CGI films too , the European Union has a new flag , and who'da thunk it?: faces hidden in music

Death Of Internet Radio

My former colleague Joy Culbertson sent me a note about this issue, which is flying below most people's radar. If you care, do something about it. Because by June, it may be too late.

Most of you know I am a huge fan of listening to music via Internet Streaming Radio. But did you know that Internet radio may cease to exist on May 21st?

Please go to this website and read up on the subject and then go here to write directly to your legislators about the subject. (it just takes a minute, please do this for me!)

If you are not a fan of internet radio, I urge you to give it a try; and I think you soon will be. Go to Live365 or Shoutcast (my new favorite, but you have to download the winamp player if you don't already have one).

I have a wealth of information on this subject, so don't hesitate to write me about it.

Salon has an interview with an independent broadcaster who will be affected by this ruling. It's a good read.

Web Site of the Week

Read Meat

My daughter Rae wrote me:

You should check out the online comic "Red Meat" it's so f*&^ing weird!

It reminds me of the cartoon David Lynch used to do. I forget the name. Angry Dog, or something. Anyway, give Red Meat a look. It is edgy, to say the least.


The Top 14 Signs Your Co-Worker Has "Star Wars" Fever

Let me just note that I made the list twice this week, first at No. 6.

May 7, 2002

14> Insists you call him "Darth Fred, Dark Lord of Human Resources."

13> Arguments with him always end up with you being called "Greedo" and getting shot with a toy blaster.

12> You find yourself sending thank-you cards to George Lucas because of that gold Princess Leia bikini the hottie receptionist wears on casual Fridays.

11> For weeks now, she's been whistling that annoyingly perky cantina music.

10> He's already uploaded 13 remixes of "Send in the Clones" to and is now working on his surf-guitar version.

9> Pokes his head into your office as you're interviewing a candidate and says, "The force is strong in this one."

8> Remember the scene where Luke and Darth Vader have a saber fight on the narrow bridge? Of course you do, because he and that bozo from Accounting just reenacted it on the tabletops in the lunchroom.

7> Filming hasn't even begun for Episode III, yet he's already used a flag to stake out his spot at the front of *that* ticket line.

6> He's upped the frequency of Jar-Jar effigy burnings from daily to hourly.

5> The silver coffee pot from the kitchen disappeared right around the time his Boba Fett impersonation surfaced.

4> So far, she's spent six months of maternity leave in line at the cineplex -- including the delivery.

3> Wears his Skywalker pajamas with the footies to work, and requires his Secret Service detail to do the same.

2> Every friggin' morning: "These are not the bagels you're looking for."

and's Number 1 Sign Your Co-Worker Has "Star Wars" Fever...

1> Late to the meeting he will be. In a strange order the words of his sentences are.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2002 by Chris White ]
Selected from 76 submissions from 30 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Elliott Schiff, Allentown, PA -- 1 (Woohoo! 1st #1!)
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- 1 (51st #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 6

The Top 13 Surprises in the New Kama Sutra (Part I)

Then at No. 11 (and I had several runners up on this list that nearly made the cut).

May 8, 2002


Next month, the Oxford University Press will issue a new version of the Kama Sutra that corrects some of the translation errors that were included in Sir Richard Burton's famous 1883 publication of the Indian erotic guide.

13> The most recommended new positions all require a Segway.

12> "Warning: Objects on these pages are more limber than their real-life counterparts."

11> That position on page 215 was intended as a back-scratching technique.

10> The "Flying Tiger Lotus" position has been renamed "Really Good Way To Watch Satima's Boobies Bounce."

9> Apparently, sex is supposed to be fun. Won't Mrs. Falwell be surprised?

8> The "Trampoline" position is often followed by the "Hospital Bed" pose.

7> The back seat of an SUV is an acceptable substitute for positions calling for making love on a water buffalo.

6> The dedication page includes a shout-out to "the sultry sounds of Barry White."

5> Turns out the best way to get a woman aroused is to blow gently into her *rear*.

4> Yogi Todd claims: "I knew this one dude who tried to do #72, 'Entwined Serpents,' all by himself and got stuck that way. Seriously, man."

3> Warning: Avoid the "Squatting Lotus" position after eating Mexican food.

2> "The Flying Swan Anticipates the Ecstasy of Flight" from the original text is now correctly translated as "Lonely Dude Makes a Booty Call."

and's Number 1 Surprise in the New Kama Sutra...

1> It's the simple story of a nerdy average lover bitten by a radioactive hooker.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2002 by Chris White ]
Selected from 95 submissions from 36 contributors
. Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Wade Kwon, Birmingham, AL -- 1 (21st #1 / Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 11



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

I am really starting to despise Hollywood's insistence on ever more explicit sex in R-rated movies. It is so gratuitous and unnecessary. Did I enjoy gawking at Diane Lane's body? Yes, I did. I could, however, have done with less of Oliver Martinez. Was it necessary to show Lane rutting? Yes, it was. Did it have to be that explicit? No it did not.

Plot summary from IMDB:

"Unfaithful" centers on Diane Lane and Richard Gere as a couple living in the New York city suburbs whose marriage goes dangerously awry when the wife (Lane) indulges in an adulterous fling.

Adrian Lyne has only directed fight films, but what a crop: Flashdance, 9 1/2 Weeks, Fatal Attraction, Indecent Proposal and Lolita. I think we can fairly say we know what's on his mind.

This film is the rarest of rarities, an intelligent, thought-provoking Hollywood studio picture, and one that tells a linear understandable story. When was the last time you saw that? It's been a long time for me, I can tell you. So, it shouldn't have surprised me to find that this is a remake of the French film La Femme Infidele, by Claude Chabrol, who has written 48 films since his debut in 1959. Alvin Sargent gets the screenplay credit.

It is a sensitive, moving, realistic portrayal of love, obsession, betrayal and revenge that is riveting from start to finish. It moves right along at a zippy 100 minutes, and has a satisfyingly ambiguous ending.

Don't take anyone to this film (or let anyone see it) for whom explicit on-screen sex is inappropriate. People who have experienced adulterous affairs may find it hard to watch as well.


Cringeley, The Klez Virus, 60s Comedy, Oversensitive, Funny Furniture, The Other Russell Baker, The Farm Bill, Dan Rosenbaum's Latest

I don't think much of Cringely as a rule; he's a legend in his own mind. But he wrote two remarkably moving columns lately, pointed out to me by Scot Finnie:

Finding Meaning in a Lost Life

Is that a supercomputer in your jammies?

Speaking of Scot, both his newsletter and Fred Langa's report the Klez virus is rampant. Both offer advice. If you've been hit, or are worried, surf over! They both write first class newsletter. My own brother was hit hard. Luckily, Norton Antivirus has blocked all attempts to get me. One nasty one worked off an HTML formatted email message, so you didn't even have to open the attachment to activate it. Nasty!

Daniel Dern found a site that is reissuing classic 60s comedy records, many of which have never before made it to CD.

Kevin Sullivan has an entry in the category that could be either "too dumb to believe" or "oversensitive."

Craig Reynolds found two sites literalists might enjoy: Periodic Table, Triangle Table History.

Dan Grobstein found a column by The Other Russell Baker, apropos of my comments last week about the other Mr. Schindlers. I know Larry King. No, not that one. No, not that one either. The financial journalist. He also notes a column about the farm bill which compares it to federal support for NYC.

What's new from Dan Rosenbaum you ask?

  • The TV industry vs its viewers;
  • How AOL can drive broadband sales and save the company;
  • John Ashcroft lying to Congress and the American people;
  • Protecting kids from online porn, and
  • Is the Internet Revolution only the Golden Age of Trade Journalism?

To obtain a reminder when I post my weekly electronic column,
or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism, email me. (pes-at-sign-schindler-dot-org)

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Old versions of my column are hosted here at


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