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
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P.S. A Column On Things: September 9, 2002

September 9, 2002 Vol. 4, No. 36

Table of Contents:

General News

  • 9/11 Poetry
  • How Many Jobs Must A Man Walk Down
  • Baseball Is Better Than Football

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Web Site of the Week

  • Rae Finds David Pell's Nextdraft, Dalton Touts KJAZ


  • The Top 15 Signs "Star Trek" Characters Are Backing a Politician


  • The Business Of Fancydancing


  • Nillson's Portable Fix: Chill Out; A Google Mirror Update and Daniel Dern's Picks

General News

9/11 Poetry

I don't normally change the column after I post it and sent out the notification, but these two poems struck me, so I'm making a late addition.

The Washington Post asked former poet laureate Robert Pinsky to write a new poem. Here are excerpts, including my favorite image.


By Robert Pinsky
Washington Post
Sunday, September 8, 2002; Page W26

We adore images, we like the spectacle
Of speed and size, the working of prodigious
Systems. So on television we watched

And if they blow up the Statue of Liberty--
Then the survivors might likely in grief, terror

And excess build a dozen more, or produce
A catchy song about it, its meaning as beyond
Meaning as those symbols, or Ray Charles singing "America

The Beautiful." Alabaster cities, amber waves,
Purple majesty. The back-up singers in sequins
And high heels for a performance--or in the studio

In sneakers and headphones, engineers at soundboards,
Musicians, all concentrating, faces as grave
With purpose as the harbor Statue herself.

The San Francisco Chronicle identifies its 9/11 poet this way:

Andrei Codrescu is a New Orleans-based poet who still remembers Allen Ginsberg

9/11 for Allen Ginsberg

Andrei Codrescu
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002; Page D-3

9/11, I can barely remember you, they've buried you in so much hype!

9/11, I wept when you were first on television! I wept for New York, for the dead, for all of us, for myself, for the world!


9/11, I started to feel sorry for you when retired generals, admirals, spies, loonies and fakes brushed off their swords and rushed to your defense! So many double-chins! So many watering eyes! So many dentured grins and brush haircuts! So many double-bottom suitcases clutched in so many pimp-ringed hands! They even brought Ollie North from felonious disgrace to stand up for you with his Constitution-overthrowing boyish old looks!

How Many Jobs Must A Man Walk Down

I heard one of those throwaway statistics the other day--you know the ones I mean--two out of three dentists who chew gum, or half the people in the world have never made a telephone call--that sort of thing. This one was about the number of jobs you can expect to have in a lifetime. It got me to thinking; I have had (depending on how you count multiple stints with the same employer) about 18 different jobs, albeit 10 of them intentionally temporary, "pre-adult" jobs. I have left off the company names so this doesn't end up looking like a résumé.

10 Pre Adult Jobs:

Programmer for an accountant,

driver for a children's clothing store chain

radio: talk show host, disc jockey, chief engineer, engineer (two stations)

television: studio technician (one station twice, another station)

newspaper reporter

8 Adult Jobs:

reporter for both wire services

public relations for a bank

newspaper reporter

computer industry reporter (two companies)


substitute teacher

So, despite having put 20 years in at one company, I really am a new economy kind of guy.

Baseball Is Better Than Football

I hate to admit that there are any good newspaper columnists besides the much-missed Adair Lara and the still very much with it (thank you) Jon Carroll, but once in a blue moon, Mark Simon of the San Francisco Chronicle hits one out of the park--a metaphor that is appropriate as I link to this excellent meditation, on a subject with which I wholeheartedly agree, but about which I have never been able to articulate my thoughts as clearly as he does:

September belongs to baseball
49ers, rest of NFL crowding the plate

Mark Simon
San Francisco Chronicle
Thursday, September 5, 2002

It's an aggravating conflict -- football crowding the plate -- and it's made worse by the fundamental reality that baseball is a better game....

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Craig Reynolds cruises the net for you:

Verizon says DMCA is unconstitutional: as reported here last week, the RIAA copyright thugs may have picked the wrong victim to harass this time. Verizon, other telecommunication companies, plus consumer and privacy rights activists are now uniting to stop the abuse sanctioned by this despicable law.

Poisoning the P2P ecosystem: research by Andrew Chen and Andrew Schroeder (first disseminated via Slashdot then picked up by Business 2.0) suggests that peer-to-peer file trading systems can be disrupted by a relatively small number of attacks, rather like small environmental changes can disrupt biological ecosystems. This may explain why media corporations are so giddy about Howard Berman's anti-P2P bill and the vigilante cyberattacks it allows.

Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Internet Security writes in his Crypto-Gram newsletter about the Berman anti-P2P bill License to Hack and about Palladium and the TCPA.

Apparently there are limits to what mischief the music industry believes it can get away with, they are backing away from copy-protected CDs, but at the same time, new Microsoft-powered "entertainment PCs" coming out later this year will be intentionally crippled with copy-protection. describes a Morgan Stanley survey showing that among recent Linux server purchases, 31 percent were replacing Windows systems.

Hydrogen in the news: on the one hand, this says hydrogen powered vehicles are ten years off because it is currently four times more expensive than gasoline. On the other hand, this describes a new process for converting plant matter to hydrogen using a platinum-based catalyst, which could lead to cheap and plentiful supplies.

Technobits: US Rep. Berman's office replies to criticism of his anti-P2P bill --- LA Times on content security versus meeting consumer demand --- CNN asks Is Linux poised to topple Microsoft? --- Apple criticizes lack of support for industry standards in Windows Media Player --- Sony PlayStation 3 Seen Out of the Box by 2005 --- Greece tried to outlaw gambling machines, but ended up making all public computer games illegal --- MIT Professor apologizes for violating comic book copyright --- Virtual Harlem depicts the Harlem Renaissance of the early 1900s --- Like, gag me with a discourse particle

Web Site of the Week

Rae Finds David Pell's Nextdraft, Dalton Touts KJAZ

My daughter Rae recommends the blog Nextdraft by David Pell.

This news from Richard Dalton:

Great news. San Francisco's legendary KJAZ is back after getting shut down by the court decision requiring payment and reporting to RIAA. They finessed the problem, going to the record companies to get a waiver for the label's music. This is a great story of keeping the Internet free.


The Top 15 Signs "Star Trek" Characters Are Backing a Politician

I cannot remember the last time I had two entries on one list... and I am too lazy to go and look it up.

September 4, 2002


Ohio gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan is married to actress Kate Mulgrew -- Capt. Kathryn Janeway on "Star Trek: Voyager." She's helping to raise money for hubby's campaign, with the help of other members of the "Star Trek" family, including William Shatner.

"But, Chris, how can I tell if 'Star Trek' characters are backing a politician?

15> Intern under his desk has three arms and is named Xeelox.

14> Campaign commercials continually attack opponent as being "illogical."

13> Secret Service detail all seem to be wearing red shirts.

12> Her big campaign promise is to rename the "Star Wars" missile defense system.

11> Campaign rallies always seem to end up in fistfights over the relative merits of Kirk and Picard.

10> Advertising campaign is entirely in Klingon -- and it's working!

9> Voters are confused as Commander Data appears more life-like than candidate Gore.

8> Opponent has bruises on his neck from all the pinching during debates.

7> Other candidates forced to prove that they are not, in fact, "Pro-Tribble."

6> It's hard to hear the rally speeches over the sound of all the inhalers.

5> Her numbers are up in the important "single male over 25 living in his parents' basement" demographic.

4> Your opponent's campaign poster: "Phasers On Stan!" Your name: Stan.

3> He's sporting a pair of oversized pointy ears -- and he isn't Ross Perot.

2> Well, if you can find a ridge on that alien-looking guy's forehead, he's a Klingon -- otherwise, he's James Carville.

and's Number 1 Sign "Star Trek" Characters Are Backing a Politician...

1> Every time an intern enters the room, campaign chairman Scotty yells, "She's gonna blow!"


[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2002 by Chris White ]
Selected from 98 submissions from 39 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA -- 1 (23rd #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 10, 11


The Business Of Fancydancing

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

From the people who brought you Smoke Signals (which I have not seen, but is one of my mothers' favorite films) comes The Business of Fancydancing. Shot in digital on an extremely tight budget (and it shows), this film is an artistic independent effort that tells an interesting but muddled story about some engaging and fascinating characters who inhabit a milieu normally invisible to us: the rez (short for the Indian reservation).

Indians made it, so I assume those parts of the film are authentic.

Two of the four leads, Evan "Seymour Polatkin" Adams and Michelle "Agnes Roth" St. John were in Smoke Signals, while the other two leads, the somewhat flat Gene "Aristotle Joseph" Tagaban and the utterly amazing Swil "Mouse" Kanim are first time actors.

If you like symbolism and aren't hung up on plot, if you don't mind a gay Indian protagonist and, as the MPAA puts it, "sexual situations," then this R-rate flick is for you, but, adults only please, and really, only an art-house crowd.


Nillson's Portable Fix: Chill Out; A Google Mirror Update and Daniel Dern's Picks

Bob Nilsson checks in on my 16 hour computer drama:

Having gone through much of what you experienced in your recent computer wrestling (is there a Windows user who hasn't?), here are some thoughts. Sudden shutdowns are usually due to overheating, such as when the air vents get blocked, a fan stops working, or, as in our recent case with a Toshiba Satellite, simply due to a faulty design.

Instead of downgrading, did you consider loading Windows XP? On a scale of 1-10, if Windows 98 is at 1 and Windows ME is at -1, Windows XP is probably at 2 or at least a little better than Windows 98.

I have ordered a portable computer cooler device to see if that helps. Next stop: Windows XP! Thanks for the advice Bob.

He also had this heartening news about censorship confounded:

The New Scientist just reported that the Google "mirror" site (reported in this column last month) is defeating China's blocking of the regular Google site. Since everything about the mirror site is reversed, viewing it with a mirror can help. China has been blocking Google and other sites that could potentially act as Google proxies since about September 1.

Daniel Dern's finds: Tattoos to check diabetic blood sugar, on E-Bay, the Periodic Table of Subversive Elements (this one is really funny), and in Yahoo business news, Sony's net-connected hard disk video recorder. E-Bay and Yahoo pull stories down quickly, so read these right away if you want to read them.

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