PS... A Column
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.
October 14, 2002 Vol. 4, No. 41
Table of Contents:
I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I noticed Scot Finnie had a pledge break this week in his newsletter (as well as a plug for this column, thank you very much Scott), so I thought I'd remind you that if even 10% of the 400 people who read this column each week chose to make the voluntary payment for this column, I'd break even instead of losing money on it. Not that I mind spending money for a soapbox. It's like public radio folks; I'll be here whether you join or not, I'll just be happier if you join. Existing members relax. You've done your part. New members: welcome aboard.
18-Week Lesson Plan
It seems as if each class at Chapman University has its own particular brand of hell. My current class requires that I develop an 18-week (!) lesson plans. Since I plan three activities a day, that's 90 school days times 3 or 270 activities. I don't have to spell them all out, but I do need to describe which standards they meet. It's a time sink, folks, and I've been busy substituting as well. I'm behind in my reading. Yet still, I went to a Chinese dinner and a movie with my wife on Friday. On Saturday we walked in the city and then saw an art exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor and then helped make a 54-inch wreath for Lakshmi -- because sometimes you need to do things together.
Four Years In The Making
The best newspaper columnists I know rerun items and columns on an annual basis. Why should I be any exception? This column turns four years old on Oct. 16, 2002-heavens, it doesn't seem that long. Here, for those of you who haven't seen it before, as well as those of you who have, is my anniversary item, amended as necessary so it makes sense. Plus I have corrected some of the typos.
It was four years ago this month that PSACOT was reborn in its present form. Since last year, I have written 50 columns (up from 45 in 1998-99 and 48 in 1999-2000), which means I am creeping up on perfection (52). On the average day, 75 of you look at this column. When it started, that's how many of you looked at it in two weeks.
Not bad for an outlet for which, as Vicki likes to remind me, I receive almost nothing but personal satisfaction. [Thanks to those of you who have chosen to subscribe!]
Actually, it has been very satisfying. I don't know how many of you can remember back 48 months, but the genesis of this column is still clear in my mind, even it isn't in yours. It was the forced march to impeachment, rammed down America's throat by the rabid Republicans. Thus, I have something in common with Ted Koppel; my outlet was born in crisis, but outlasted the crisis and found a voice of its own over time.
I started PSACOT (by the way, many of you try to pronounce that acronym. Don't bother. It has no proper pronunciation) because I was afraid I was going insane, shouting back at the TV and the newspaper every night, composing little speeches in my head I'd give to Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich if I ever had the chance. Also, my job had mutated, and almost without me noticing it, I wasn't really a professional writer any more, but more of an editor and an administrator. I love to write. Always have. Not once in a 25-year career can I remember a moment of writer's block. Of course now, my job has mutated into non-existence, but that's another story, and one which I promise not to mention more than once an item this week.
So, I dusted off the name I used on my favorite college column, and started to write for you, my 500-some odd (some really odd) readers. It's the ultimate in vanity publishing, a column about me, my family and my opinions on public affairs--a blog or weblog. But it simultaneously keeps me from yelling at the television and alleviates any desire I might have to write a Christmas letter, and isn't that a fine combination?
I like doing this, even if it does rob me of most potential conversational topics with most of you. I mean, when we meet, many of you say, "I knew that already. I read it in your column."
I hope you're enjoying reading this as much as I'm enjoying writing it. Thank you for being there.
Night and Day, Winter's Tale
Saw two plays last week. The American Conservatory Theater production of Tom Stoppard's play Night and Day about foreign correspondence as practiced by British journalists. Check out some quotes from the play. This one you can still see.
The California Shakespeare Festival's version of Winter's Tale closed last Sunday night. Modern dress, and very innovative staging, with the fourth act being performed outside the theater. Bohemia: quite a show. Winter's Tale has never been one of my favorites. I mean, what is it with Willy Shakes and these kings who lose their mind with jealousy? I mean, first Othello, and now this guy. Makes you think kings must be a very unstable bunch. But this was a fantastic production (as most CalShakes performances are), and I had a great time. Vicki and I have been subscribers since it was the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival in Hinkle Park, starting the year before we were married, in 1978, when I had to commute down from Portland, Oregon to see the plays. Rae was in Tahoe with friends, and Vicki was swamped with paperwork, so I saw it with our friends Sue and Jim Mellers. As the saying goes, a good time was had by all--it was their first time at the Orinda's own Bruns Amphitheater for Shakespeare.
War's A Brewin'
It's a terrible thing to say, but I don't believe the "President" of the United States. I'm afraid it's true. When he says he hasn't made his mind up about attacking Iraq, and that passage of a war powers resolution--in abrogation of the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war--does not mean there will be immediate war.
Bush wants war. I don't know why, and I refuse to speculate, because, as many wiser commentators have noted, speculation about motives is pointless and futile. We'll never know why.
But he's wrong, it's a bad idea, and if he attacks Saddam, no matter how richly Saddam deserves it, this country will be in a world of hurt for years, if not decades to come. It is true that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. The "President," apparently, isn't even bright enough to listen to those (if any) among his advisors who can remember what happened to Russia in Afghanistan. My only hope is that the American people really don't want to become a world empire, the cop on every corner, and that we'll keep throwing people out of Congress until we get a mix that will actually serve as some kind of restraint on executive warmongering. But that probably won't happen soon enough to stop Iraq. I just hope it comes soon enough to halt Bush's ill-advised Pax Americana, which is just Lebensraum in sheep's clothing. Maybe that German cabinet minister who compared Bush to a certain World War II leader wasn't so far off after all--attacking before you are attacked was quite popular back then, as I recall. For, as Lord Acton noted, "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." I never though I'd live to see an American president wage aggressive war, renamed, in a truly Orwellian newspeak touch, "preventative" war.
It's wrong. It's illegal. It's immoral. It's unethical. And it's just another episode in George W. Bush's life, where he makes the mistake and others get to pay for it.
The Novels To Read If You're Only Reading Three
A desperate journalism student asked for two short novels he could read. I have a whole web site devoted to journalism books, but to sum it up, the two best short novels about journalism are Arnold Sawislak's Dwarf Rapes Nun, Flees in UFO and Calvin Trillin's Floater and Bob Ottum's All Right, Everybody Off The Planet.
Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
Craig Reynolds cruises the net for you:
All us geeks and techno-wonks were focused last week on oral arguments at the US Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft. Read analysis by NYT, Financial Times, The Mercury News and the law blog Volokh. Lessig wrote an extended blog entry about his view of the Eldred v. Ashcroft oral arguments.
NYT editorialized against An Abuse of Copyright as did the SacBee, who urged the Court to free the Mouse. Background from CNN, News.com and Wired's: Fencing Off the Public Domain and Free Speech Same as Free Content?
Eldred v. Ashcroft sideshows: the Internet Archive's Bookmobile was parked outside the Supreme Court, giving out works from the public domain, and the exhibition Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age examines the collision of copyright and artistic freedom, see Wired's coverage.
Yikes, did Microsoft do the Right Thing?! That always throws me off: Microsoft nixes TV copy protection. But then, to restore balance to the world, their "Licensing 6.0" seems to have annoyed their loyal customers and driven many to switch to Linux. Come to think of it, that is the Right Thing.
A new planet: Quaoar (not to be confused with Cruithne) a large (800 mile diameter) "Kuiper Belt Object" was spotted earlier this year, then recently measured by Hubble. The object is named after a creation god of the native American Tongva tribe. Although I saw one suggestion that the world after Pluto should be called Goofy. Quaoar is as much a planet as Pluto, but there's the rub. Some planetary astronomers have suggested that KBOs like Pluto and Quaoar should be considered proto-comets rather than planets.
Technobits: Hacktivists or Cyberterrorists?: The Changing Media Discourse on Hacking --- fathers of PC revolution wary of DRM --- Jamming camcorders in movie theaters --- cool high speed robot grasping movies --- a newspaper editor's nightmare --- paper airplane simulator --- Modern Living: odd, interesting animated clips --- this week's Lego masterpiece: Escher's "Ascending and Descending".
Ian Shoales, Daniel Dern Finds Arguments
I keep thinking about setting up a web site, but in a lot of ways it seems like owning a rabbit. You have to pay a lot of attention to it and don't get that much in return.
As Merlin D. Mann notes:
Merle's wife, Amy, decided it was time "Ian Shoales" had a bitter little place of his own on the web, so here goes. It's just a baby rabbit of a site.
And this from Daniel Dern, Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About (I think I've written about this before but it is still good):
Be sure you read far down enough to get to "a thing happened at this point that nearly stopped me ever updating this page again" link, and (also) go to that link.
I didn't make any lists this week, so I'm taking my marbles and going home.
You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database.
The reviews were somewhere between mixed and awful, but this is a powerful, dramatic film, made by adults and for adults. You should see it just for that reason alone.
Tagline: Where does a mother end and a daughter begin?
Plot Outline: A teenager journeys through a series of foster homes after her mother goes to prison for committing a crime of passion.
Michelle Pfeiffer is stunning, beautiful, brilliant and a great actor. But you don't see all that much of her. Alison Lohman, on the other hand, is in every scene and shows some real promise for the future.
This is an adaptation of a novel. The novel was supposed to be great; I don't know it. But the movie is great, even if it only features three foster homes instead of five. Is adult change possible? If I didn't think so, I would never have tried psychotherapy. Good people can chance; maybe terrible people can too. See the film, then you can figure out what I'm talking about.
Dalton on Iraq, Tech Staffer Wins Nobel (and it isn't Sandler), Big Ass Boat, Yale's Sex Column, Steve and Peggy Coquet View With Alarm
Richard Dalton found this story on Yahoo: U.S. Has a Plan to Occupy Iraq, Officials Report, but not that Yahoo "sunsets" its stories after seven days, so look fast or it will be gone.
Nobel Prize Winner Robert Horvitz was managing editor of the MIT newspaper, The Tech in 1966 (five years before my time).
Horvitz, the Nobel Prize winner, takes his place in the long distinguished but somewhat dubious line of The Tech alumni extending from Arthur D. Little (of consulting firm fame) through James R. Killian (MIT president, the first presidential science advisor), Pat McGovern (founder of Computerworld and one of the richest men in the world), Norman Sandler (former UPI White House correspondent) and Steve Kirsch (largest single donor to the Democratic party last year).
Here's the Big Ass Spanish Boat story that's been all over the Internet. I couldn't resist. (Yes, I know Craig had it too)
Daniel Grobstein's finds this week include the Washington Post's War for Dummies, and Maureen Dowd's Tribulation Worketh Patience from The New York Times, which points out, in polite terms, what utter assholes Bush appoints to advisory boards. Also Japanese Masters Get Closer to the Toilet Nirvana (which is just exactly what you think it is), and Illusions Of Iraqi Democracy.
The Tech managing board has taken note of the New York Times story about the Yale Daily News sex column. Why didn't we think of that? If you are squeamish about frank discussion of matters sexual, don't click here to see her most famous column.
Steve Coquet found this odd:
Mulafi said he knew the men who attacked the Marines and believed they were motivated by opposition to a new U.S. law requiring government documents to state that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
He read that as the U.S. passing a law requiring all countries to refer to Jerusalem as the capital. An understandable mistake. What really happened is we passed a law requiring all official U.S. documents to refer to Jerusalem that way. Probably everyone thought it was a symbolic gesture. Except, now, the marines who were attacked with highly non-symbolic live ammo.
Keeping it all in the family, his wife Peggy wrote:
I can't begin to describe the long and twisty trail that led mehere, but this link will take you to a directory of movies demonstrating video editing techniques. The ones I found most intriguing - and frightening - are the ones labeled JFK. I know this technology exists, of course, but it's good to be reminded how prevalent, and how easy it is to do this stuff.
To obtain a reminder when I post my weekly electronic column,
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