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: November 11, 2002

November 11, 2002 Vol. 4, No. 45

Table of Contents:

General News

  • First Week of Student Teaching
  • The Mid-Term Disaster for America
  • We All Live On

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Web Site of the Week

  • Write Your Own Bush Speech


  • None


  • None


  • A Dern Correction, Bush Thievery, Beaver Dam, Langa on iWon, Three from Grobstein

General News

When I was a boy, I used to like the phrase, "I'm surrounded by idiots." I used it regularly, until my mother asked, "What's that say about you." I haven't used it again since.

First Week of Student Teaching

Richard Dalton asks,

"If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?"

Would that this were the most difficult question I faced this week, my first as a student teacher working under a master teacher.

I am tired and sore. I think the sore comes from all the work I did this weekend at the rental house we haven't rented yet, but the tired is from teaching. It is exhausting. Who knew?

I get up every morning at 5:30 to be showered and mentally ready to begin prep at 7:30 a.m. for my first class, which starts at 8. I teach the same thing twice: sophomore English, first and second periods.

So, I've been teaching Inherit The Wind, which means I had to read it and watch the movie again, for the first time in, oh, 30 years.

I have never in my life been more grateful for a Monday holiday. I am grateful to veterans for many reasons, but this year I am most especially grateful for Veterans' Day.

I got into this because I think there are too many mediocre teachers. If I can't be a great teacher, I don't want to teach. I'd rather be a good journalist than a bad teacher. The world definitely does not need another bad teacher. I honestly believe I have it in me to be great--after a lot of work and polishing.

The Mid-Term Disaster for America

After starting this column in a fit of political rage, I have slacked off on the political commentary (I have yet to really express myself on the moronic Iraq adventure), but I cannot let last week's election results pass without comment. They tend to prove one of my favorite aphorisms, learned at my mother's knee: "The masses are asses." There is simply no other way to explain large numbers of the American people voting so clearly against their own self-interest.

I will not defend every action the Democrats take. They proved themselves to be largely a confederacy of dunces during this election cycle. Timid, timorous, confused and without a clear message to offer the American people. And because they frittered away the Senate, Roe V. Wade will be overturned before the next presidential election, Bush will complete his "reverse Robin Hood" maneuver, soaking the poor while excusing the rich from any meaningful level of taxation.

Our government has been placed in the hands of a bunch of unreconstructed Southern white men. These people can barely disguise their distaste for labor, the poor, or racial and sexual minorities. They will act on their proclivities every legislative day for the next two years.

The results of an all-GOP government:

  • a federal bench sitting to the right of Genghis Khan, from the district courts, through the appeals courts, to the Supreme Court, which will smother progressive initiatives for decades, and reverse Roe V. Wade. Heck, they'll reinstate Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott if Clarence Thomas can ever be convinced to actually write an opinion. Maybe Antonin Scalia will ghost-write one for him.
  • a further dismantling of the social safety net.
  • huge, economy-destroying deficits as far as the eye can see, sacrificed on the holy alter of tax cutting.
  • permanent war and a misdirection of national resources into a bloated military.
  • the widening of the gap between rich and poor until it becomes a huge bottomless chasm into which most, if not all of the middle class will fall. The huge American middle class was a direct result of post World War II federal policies. The government created it; now, under Bush and his boys, the government will destroy it, and our distribution of income will look more like Costa Rica than the American ideal.

Why no one in the Democratic Party bothered to point out any of these predictable outcomes, loudly, clearly and explicitly during the election campaign is beyond me. Sadly, everything I have predicted will come to pass by 2004. Yet, by then, the GOP will have such a fund-raising advantage that it will suppress labor and minority turnout to the point that only rich white people will actually turn out to vote. Bush's "mandate," from a tiny portion of a mostly disenfranchised electorate, will be as bitter ashes when class warfare moves from being a cold war to being a hot war. We'll have to bring the boys home; Bush will need them to guard the White House. Mark my words.

Once you push my button, I really go, eh?

We All Live On

We live on in other people's lives in such odd ways. No one in my family goes to the bathroom, or even the little boys or little girls' room anymore; we all go to the "little editor's room." A former colleague of mine whom I still see regularly hatched this phrase. But I think of him even more regularly, namely whenever anyone says, "Excuse me, I have to go to the little editors' room."

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Craig Reynolds cruises the net for you:

Microsoft in the post-DOJ-wrist-slap era: the Boston Globe's 800-pound gorilla starts with a story about how Microsoft treats its friends. A recently leaked Microsoft report joins the "Halloween documents" at OSI, summarizing Microsoft's own survey finding its attempts to belittle Open Source either had no effect or might be backfiring against Redmond (more from: IDG and Consumers don't trust the companies developing "trusted computing" technology says The Washington Post reports that Extremadura, in western Spain, is in the process of converting all of its computers from Windows to Linux. UK cel-phone maker Sendo abruptly dropped its planned Z100 model that was to be based on Microsoft' Smartphone platform, opting instead to use Symbian from Nokia because of the flexibility derived from Open Source systems (more at: Reuters, ZDNet). Finally see Cringely's encouraging column about Mike Doyle and Eolas.

Music industry cluelessness wrap-up: German media giant BMG announced this week that they plan to stop selling CDs. They say they will be copy-protecting all of their future releases, so those shiny plastic audio disks will not be "CDs". Of course BMG could be just blowing smoke out of their asses, like Universal's Edgar Bronfman was when he claimed the same thing a year ago. Either way it is fine with me, I only play CDs on my laptop, so any disk I buy that is crippled with "copy protection" will get returned to the store for a refund, just like any other faulty merchandise. Elsewhere, Princeton's John Halderman argues CD copy-prevention is "fundamentally misguided" and even hardcore audiophiles say don't bother with DVD-Audio format. For more background on copy protection see this. But the best commentary I found this week on the music industry's idiocy was offered indirectly in the last two paragraphs in this Wired story about the DVD burner on the new Apple PowerBook. Pretty insightful for a quote beginning "Dude, ..."

Wow, what a concept: Distributed Proofreaders for Project Gutenberg. Read a one paragraph summary at the top of this.

Technobits: Panama vs. VoIP --- new steered antenna array in base station offers vastly extended range for 802.11 wireless Internet --- advances in quantum cryptography --- high school junior's science fair project: hidden craters on Mars revealed --- juicy paranoia about who makes the vote-counting machines? --- ow, my eyes! --- Anakin's Switch Commercial

Web Site of the Week

Write Your Own Bush Speech

Daniel Dern found a British site that lets you write and deliver your own George bush speech.





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


A Dern Correction, Bush Thievery, Beaver Dam, Langa on iWon, Three from Grobstein

The remark attributed to Daniel Dern last week about Rob Lowe and the House (not senate seat) to which his character is, apparently, about to be appointed, was made by his significant other, Bobbi Fox.

Speaking of Mr. Dern, he also found this overlooked pre-election gem: The re-election of Jim Crow: How Jeb Bush's team is trying to steal Florida again, by Greg Palast, which appeared in Southern Exposure on October 29, 2002.

According to at least two urban legend sites, the very funny beaver dam correspondence is real, although most web sites tweak it a bit to make it funnier, and the background indicates that, just maybe, the human contributed to the beaver dam in question.

If you're not reading the LangaList newsletter you should be. Then you'd know astounding things like the fact that iWon plants a Trojan Horse program on your PC if you load its messaging software; one that renames itself and moves itself if you try to delete it! Gerry Boyd told Fred Langa about Software at iWon Web Site Tracks Users Even After Removal.

Daniel Grobstein has two offerings this week: from the New York Times (pre-election commentary from Paul Krugman, and Tiptoeing to Defeat, post-election criticism of Democratic party whimpiness by Bob Herbert) was well as a Washington Post story on special forces troops.

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