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: February 10, 2003

February 10, 2003 Vol. 5, No.6

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Steve Visits
  • Peace News
  • The Budget
  • Letting Go

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Web Site of the Week

  • The Last Page Of The Internet


  • The Top 15 Sex Game Shows


  • None


  • Reynolds: Sprite Theory, Nucular; Carroll on Poverty; Palmer Find Noyce Article (two years later!); Coquet Likes Post Put-Down

General News

Steve Visits

My brother Steve was in town last week to take care of some personal business. Alas, the life of a student teacher, father and credential student prevented me from getting together with him in SF during the week. This week I was busy every night: band, class, two nights of volunteer work at the school newspaper and driving several drama students to an evening performance.

But we finally connected on Saturday morning for a round of golf at Roddy Ranch. I always pick my ball up after 8 strokes. In the nine holes we played, I only putted out twice. Then we went to SF for lunch at Mona Lisa, a North Beach institution where we got comped for our appetizers because Steve had helped break up a fight the day before. That kid. You gotta love him.

Peace News

I have been avoiding saying anything about the upcoming war in Iraq, because I am conflicted. Hussein is a bad man. Regime change is a good idea. But I just can't get behind the idea of sending our young men and women to die for Bush and his oil industry buddies. It's a bad idea at the wrong time for the wrong reason. An invasion of Kuwait, everyone can understand. "Because he might throw something at us, someday," is not.

I may soon print a pro-war essay by my friend and colleague Larry King, writing from London. I haven't read it, but he's a thoughtful guy, and I am sure the essay will be three things: well-reasoned, thoughtful and entertaining.

Meantime, Richard Dalton notes the big peace rally slated for Saturday is taking on world-wide proportions. The people who brought us Berkeley Systems and its flying toasters are now online peace activists.

Richard wrote a peace poem, War Reverses Life. I reprint it here:

War reverses life:
as soldiers play their game
and children strive to survive
How did we learn to
tear life out of another human?
Why do
mothers and fathers
murder other
mothers and fathers
and children?
The centuries of marching
of terror
hidden in a uniform
have not made us
or more rational
or more loving.

Richard Dalton
February, 2003

The Budget

California Gov. Gray Davis, for whom I voted twice, is a horses' ass. Vetoing the increase in car registration fees is the stupidest thing he has ever done. The second-stupidest thing is his decision to balance the budge on the back of the state's school children, while raising the prison budget. I am much more scared of a generation of uneducated fools than I am the several thousand inmates, age 55 and above, who can barely move and who, as a group, have a recidivism rate of 2%. I'd rather set all those folks free and spend the money on teachers - but then I may be a little prejudiced on this particular issue.

Letting Go

Recent remarks in this space on the difficulty of saying goodbye to my daughters as they grow up and move away moved Peggy Coquet to share her similar experiences:

You have written often - and movingly - about seeing your daughters grow up and begin to try their wings in the wider world.

We are at the same point in our parenting lives, Steve and I. We had anticipated that our kids would go to college, perhaps nearby; that the leave-taking would be long and gentle. To our surprise (shock, amazement), both of our children chose to join the Navy.

The surprise was compounded because Steve had been in the Army in Vietnam, and I had done a bit of war protest. I am (was) so profoundly anti-military that I didn't even want Aaron in Boy Scouts! I automatically distrust all uniforms. And I had told both our children that while military service could be a good thing, it also meant that if you were ordered to kill someone, you had to do it.

Yet there they went. First our daughter, for whom Barbie was not just a role model, but a soul-mate. Now she wears the same thing every day ... We saw Jenn graduate boot camp at Great Lakes Recruit Training Command in December, 1999; we saw her marry in December 2000; we saw our first grandchild in December 2001. Jenn is grown, gone, across the country making a new life, in about the time it would take to get an associates degree. Jenn says she joined because she couldn't wait to get out of this small town.

Next was the young man who had been her boyfriend. We kept him after they broke up because he's such a wonderful addition to our lives. Andy didn't think the military was for him. He shared a lot of my hippie sensibilities (a Pink Floyd fan!). But he couldn't find a job, couldn't find a career path, couldn't find a place. We saw him graduate high school, and spend the years he should have been in college just drifting and hanging. Now he's in an advanced Navy program, learning something related to how to drive ships, also on the other side of the country. Andy says he joined because he needed focus.

Next week, we travel again to Great Lakes to see our son Pass In Review and graduate boot camp. Aaron is a gentle giant; a 6'5", 200-pound pacifist. Of the three, he's the least likely candidate for military service. We will have perhaps 4 or 5 days with him in Chicago, then he will go to his school - predictably, on the other side of the country - or onto a ship. At 18, he's ready to begin his adult life. As his mother (my baby boy!), I'm not ready! Not a bit. Aaron joined to get money for college.

I envy you those leisurely leave-takings with your daughters. My little birds have not fluttered a distance and returned; they have spread their wings and flown far, far away, on a course I can only chart, not follow. I'm not even allowed in the offices where they work!

My sister quoted to me once (I don't know the original source, sorry) that parenting was the only job where, if you were successful, the job disappeared.

While I embrace the future, I'll always treasure the memory of those tiny bodies in my hands.

Pray for peace,


Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Craig Reynolds surfs the net for you.

In the ongoing efforts to drive a stake into the heart of TIA: opponents and lobbyist organize while Senators Wyden and Feinstein introduce an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill which would block the TIA until specifically authorized by Congress.

From Salon: Embrace file-sharing, or die: "A record executive and his son make a formal case for freely downloading music. The gist: 50 million Americans can't be wrong." If only the RIAA would remove its collective head from its collective ass long enough to listen to clueful insiders like John Snyder. See also Janis Ian's Don't Sever a High-Tech Lifeline for Musicians. (Archive on RIAA v. Verizon)

Slammer post-mortem: not much left of the SQL worm but the clean-up and analysis: from the IEEE, Robert Graham and Reuters. The upshot: its a darn good thing this worm was basically benign (carried no destructive "payload"), because its propagation was extremely fast.

There was a discussion on Politech about "chipping" -- embedding machine-readable unique IDs in manufactured products, and how (in combination with the DMCA) this can be used to prevent "after market" suppliers from competing. This is already happening for toner cartridges. One participant tried to argue that this was a good thing which was parodied by Steve Mann. See his page about seat licensing.

Mother Jones carried an interview with John Perry Barlow called Cognitive Dissident touching on "TIA, online activism, file sharing, and the prospect of a digital counterculture."

There was a very strange episode this week involving a faux cyberterrorist, a gullible cybersecurity expert (both reporters) and a retracted Computerworld article. Here is the hoaxer's explanation.

Technobits: bogus patent of the week: Acacia --- Winning (DMCA) Exemptions, The Next Round --- fake .gov site pulled --- MSN seems to be going out of its way to trip up users of the Opera web browser --- state governments already Poindexterizing us for tax bills (from astroturfing to Poindexterizing, here at Technobriefs we bring you all the neologisms) --- several of the large e-tailers are now collecting e-tax --- cut and paste radio --- towards the plastic car

Web Site of the Week

The Last Page Of The Internet

The last page of the Internet comes to us by way of fellow MIT graduate Diana Ben-Aaron, who thanks Priscilla for finding it. It is apparently the product of Cec and Freda, who are either in Dayton Ohio or in love with it.


The Top 15 Sex Game Shows

February 6, 2003

15> The Weakest Kink

14> Family Nude

13> Wheel of Torture

12> I've Got a Secretion

11> Let's Make You Squeal

10> You Bet Your Wife

9> The $10,000 Nipple Clamp

8> Be Ben Stein's Honey

7> Queen for a Day, Whether You Swing That Way or Not

6> Wax My Loin

5> Where in My Pants Is Carmen Electra?

4> The Nudie Web Game

3> Clapardy!

2> The Price is $100, Just Like in Town -- And No Kissing!

and's Number 1 Sex Game Show...

1> Wank Ben Stein's Monkey


[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]
Selected from 118 submissions from 41 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Brandon Muller, Las Vegas, NV -- 1, 14 (Woohoo! 1st #1!)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 13



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


Reynolds: Sprite Theory, Nucular; Carroll on Poverty; Palmer Find Noyce Article (two years later!); Coquet Likes Post Put-Down

If you haven't heard about the "sprite" theory involving Columbia, check out these two articles that come to us from Craig Reynolds: S.F. man's astounding photo / Mysterious purple streak is shown hitting Columbia 7 minutes before it disintegrated and Cosmic bolt probed in shuttle disaster - Scientists poring over 'infrasonic' sound waves.

Is Bush deliberately mispronouncing the word "nuclear?" At least one newspaper writer thinks so; Craig found the story.

Jon Carroll continues to be the world's greatest newspaper columnist:

Shocking new info about tapioca

Jon Carroll
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, February 7, 2003

"Some people might argue that President Bush's compassion deficit syndrome could be the result of his not having actually met any poor people outside of campaign photo ops." - Jon Carroll on the administration's crackdown on ineligible semi-indigent children sneaking subsidized school lunches.

A ways back (Jan. 8, 2001 to be precise), Harrison Klein mentioned an article he had read about Robert Noyce. A web surfer named James Palmer saw the item and reports:

I believe the article in question was in Esquire Magazine, December 1983, pp. 346-374.

It is on-line.I went to Grinnell in the fifties and studied with the same Prof, Grant O. Gale, who was a classmate of Bardeen at U. Wisconsin back in the twenties. I never met Noyce, but did have a phone conversation with him in the early sixties when I was a young upstart in the semiconductor business. Hope this helps.

It does help, and thank you. Tom Wolfe libels my alma mater (MIT) and a fine science advisor (Jerome Wiesner) as he does in his recent collection of essays, which makes it hard to take the rest of the article at face value, but there you are. It is well written, even if not 100% accurate. After all, a reporter is only as good as his sources, and someone who talks to Wolfe really dislikes MIT and the late, great Jerry Wiesner.

This from Peggy Coquet:

The Washington Post has a real talent for smartass writing. From a television review in the Feb. 4 issue, about a new sitcom on NBC:

"A.U.S.A.," which is not pronounced "awssa" and which stands for "Assistant U.S. Attorney," introduces us to a pack of merry madcaps running mildly amok in a federal prosecutor's office, where you don't want merry madcaps to be. The show, premiering at 9:30 on Channel 4, is just another workplace comedy -- one that aims low yet still doesn't hit its mark.

Aiming low and missing. Ouch. I wouldn't want to be the producer of that show reading the papers on Feb. 4.

Thanks to all of you who submitted articles that didn't get mentioned in the column this week; ran out of space and time.

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