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: June 9, 2003

June 9, 2003 Vol. 5, No.24

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Getting My Horn Tooted
  • Why Most Teachers Are The Way They Are
  • Beyond Belief
  • Political Thoughts

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
  • Microsoft-AOL Settlement

Web Site of the Week

  • How Google Works, E-Bores


  • The Top 20 Songs by the Beagles
  • Inner Strength
  • NYC Parking Joke


  • Finding Nemo


  • Cat Column Alert, A Mess o' Dan Grobstein, Coquet on Texas Ed, Sims on G8, Malchman On Punishable Headlines

General News

Getting My Horn Tooted

Why toot my own horn, when I can get someone else to do it for me? Tom LaSusa, and old friend and professional colleague (he worked for me twice; we worked together for several years) responded to my comment about my failed job interview:

"I'll Bag the Job the next time"

You will have to forgive me, old friend, when I say that of your entire missive, the last line is of it is the best part of it all.

You could have said, "I will have to try harder." Or "better luck next interview."

Instead, with confidence and clarity, you've stated that the next time, the job will be yours. And I don't have the least bit of doubt that it will.

Interviews suck, plain and simple. I was so very fortunate that you didn't ask me to interview the two times we worked together, because I suspect that I probably would not have gotten either job. I absolutely suck at interviews. I remember interviewing at DC comics for an assistant Ed position (we're talking '94, just before you and I first worked together). I rambled, I sputtered, and I Fan-boyed about their "New Vertigo line" of comics. Needless to say, I didn't get the position. I spent the days afterwards rehashing the whole thing, hearing my voice giving the suave, cool and collected answers I wanted to give, rather than the idiotic drivel that I ended up spouting.

You and I are "talkers" -- which is why we could sit and chat about the Fate of Hal Jordan in one breath, and the Council of Nicea the very next. ;-)

You said this first interview was your "dry run." A good way to look at it. As I've often said (though rarely put it into practice) that people should go on interviews, even when they aren't looking for a new job. The simple act of interviewing is a good experience -- it prepares you for when you may really need it. And if you're going to an interview for a job you really don't care about, you're not going to be as nervous. After all, who cares if you don't get it, right?

In any regard, and I say this with LOTS of Bias, because I know the man you are -- that school and those students have lost out. You were a great teacher to me -- you still are.

The next school will be very fortunate to have you educating their classes.

Tom is, may I say, wise beyond his years. And he has some interesting things to say about the Council of Nicea. Turns out they did a lot more than the creed. If you're interested, I may continue the subject in a future column, with Tom's help. You see, at lunch I mentioned that some people say the Mormons aren't Christian because they don't accept the Nicean creed, but they say they are and cast doubt on those who say the creed is a litmus test for Christianity, particularly its father-son-holy ghost formulation. Tom, it seems, knows something of the council...

Why Most Teachers Are The Way They Are

My master teacher, Marty Schimbor, recently shared these thoughts with me:

As my career progressed and I became a department chair, I realized that most new teachers don't know squat; that student teaching is NOT adequate, so I determined to make sure any new teacher that came anywhere near me would have as much help as possible. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) learning to teach comes only through experience. You can't take classes or read books and have it happen; you have to learn to teach by teaching, and it's a whole lot easier with someone to prop you up and help you right here and right now.

Need I say she was a great master teacher? (Actually, both of my master teachers were darn good).

Beyond Belief

I heard Elaine Pagels describe her book Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas last week on public radio's Fresh Air. Here's an excerpt from the description on that came from Publishers Weekly:

In this majestic new book, Pagels (The Gnostic Gospels) ranges panoramically over the history of early Christianity, demonstrating the religion's initial tremendous diversity and its narrowing to include only certain texts supporting certain beliefs. At the center of her book is the conflict between the gospels of John and Thomas. Reading these gospels closely, she shows that Thomas offered readers a message of spiritual enlightenment. Rather than promoting Jesus as the only light of the world, Thomas taught individuals that "there is a light within each person, and it lights up the whole universe. If it does not shine, there is darkness." As she eloquently and provocatively argues, the author of John wrote his gospel as a refutation of Thomas, portraying the disciple Thomas as a fool when he doubts Jesus, and Jesus as the only true light of the world.

Based on the interview, it sounds like a remarkable and thought provoking book. And apropos of the discussion, mentioned here recently, of the council of Nicea, since Thomas did not support the unique divinity of Jesus and John did. Few people today realize that, prior to a set of decisions made several centuries after Christ died, the New Testament was in a state of flux. The hand of man--and of the organized Roman Catholic Church--had, I feel, more to do with the books finally selected than the hand of God.

Political Thoughts

While strutting across the flight deck, did George Bush say: "If I had known it was this much fun, I'd never have gone AWOL"?

* * *

Given the reports that parties unknown have removed radioactive material from sites in Iraq which sites the U.S. promised to safeguard (and then failed to protect), can we expect an announcement from George W. Bush that his plan to take deadly nuclear materials away from Saddam Hussein and put the materials in the hands of complete strangers is a success? Is that what the "Mission Accomplished" sign on the carrier Constellation meant?

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Craig Reynolds surfs the net for you.

Reclaim the Public Domain: there is a petition where you can express support for the Public Domain Enhancement Act (draft text) suggested by Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig around the time he argued Eldred V. Ashcroft before the Supreme Court. See this Q&A from CNET: Fighting for a new Net copyright deal

Two items decrying the DMCA provision that allows music barons to punish suspected violators without having to present evidence to a judge, from BBC and the AJC. Thank goodness the police do not have the unfettered power the DMCA gives copyright holders.

NASA's Foam Test Offered a Vivid Lesson in Kinetics in the New York Times gives a chilling account of the tests NASA has performed attempting to recreate the strike of a chunk of insulating foam on Columbia's wing, just after liftoff. As is well known now, that impact was considered by NASA during the flight, but rejected as unlikely to have caused serious damage. G. Scott Hubbard, director of NASA's Ames Research Center said "people's intuitive sense of physics is sometimes way off." That is certainly true and the source of countless wrong answers on high school physics exams. But imagine that flummoxed student, now an adult engineer, and the sickening realization that this mistake coast the lives of Columbia's crew. Early reports are that the upcoming report of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board will contain withering condemnation of NASA's management.

SCO versus Linux: SCO won two rounds in its attempt to claim ownership of the work of thousands of unpaid Linux contributors. SCO and Novell have dueling interpretations of a key amendment to their 1995 contract but it does seem to give SCO the Unix copyrights. The first analyst allowed to see SCO's purported evidence that Linux is based on Unix says that indeed sections of Linux code contain programmer's comments identical to those in Unix System V.

Mr. Max versus Miss Vermont: a Florida judge not only ordered Mr. Max to remove an unflattering article about beauty queen Katy be removed from his web site, but the order also forbids Mr. Max from writing about Miss Vermont in the future. In the old days before the Internet, that used to be considered unconstitutional prior restraint. Now I guess that sort of thing is OK, since the First Amendment was struck down by the Patriot Act. Well-known freedom fighter Dave Touretzky has posted a copy of the banned essay.

Technobits: cool traffic reports from Big Brother --- wireless broadband --- ArtBots: The Robot Talent Show.

Microsoft-AOL Settlement

The only marketing news on May 30, 2003, was that Microsoft personnel were trying with varying degrees of success to avoid laughing out loud too often after convincing AOL Time Warner to walk away from a potential $60 billion or more antitrust judgment (that's damages of $20 billion (and more probably $25 billion) trebled) in return for $750 million and a promise of Microsoft cooperation in various software and Internet ventures. Some observers think Microsoft will be pleased to share code for Windows (version 1.0) with AOL in a few years - maybe. If it develops that AOL subscribers (as opposed to AOL subscribers convinced to switch to MSN) have a "jarring" experience with the versions of Internet Explorer, instant messaging, and Windows Media software provided by Microsoft under the reported surrender agreement (some news reports referred to a settlement agreement), you read it first in PSACOT. After seeing how what is essentially Time Warner (Steve Case of AOL apparently had little if anything to do with the negotiation and was apparently moved out of the way to avoid antagonizing the ex-CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates) negotiated away the better part of $60 billion, one can better understand how Steve Case of AOL was able to negotiate the merger of AOL with Time Warner on terms extraordinarily favorable to AOL.

Web Site of the Week

How Google Works, E-Bores

For those of you who wonder how Google works. Thanks, Fred Langa for noting this page in your newsletter. As a matter of fact, click on preferences, and check out the selection of Google interface languages, which includes Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin and Klingon.

Dan Grobstein and I ask: how much of an e-bore are you? He got a 50. I got a 75.

Daniel "All Your Websites of the Week is Mine" Dern found a hobbit rap site. Yeah, you heard me.


The Top 20 Songs by the Beagles

A big scrum down at 15, which includes Pat Sajak... and me.

June 2, 2003

20> You've Got To Hide Your Bones Away

19> Chase My Car

18> All My Lickin'

17> Roll Over, Beethoven! Good Boy!

16> Good Morning! Good Morning! Time for Walkies? Good Morning! Good Morning! Maybe Toss Me a Tennis Ball? Good Morning! Good Morning! C'mon! It's 6 AM already! Good Morning!....

15> When I'm 9.14

14> The Ballad of Rex and Bingo

13> Eight Days in Heat

12> I Want to Hump Your Leg

11> Stuck Together

10> Fleas Tease Me

9> She Drank It From the Bathroom Toilet

8> Yelp!

7> Why Don't We Do It on the Lawn?

6> Iams the Walrus

5> Hey Food!

4> A Taste of Hiney

3> Lassie in the Sky With Dachshunds

2> Paperboy Biter

and's Number 1 Song by the Beagles...

1> Rabies Are a Bitch, Man

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]
Selected from 134 submissions from 47 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Martin Bredeck, Hybla Valley, VA -- 1, 15 (5th #1)
Chun Ho, Honolulu, HI -- 15, 17
Ann Bartow, Bartow, FL -- 15 (Hall of Famer)
Lloyd Jacobson, Washington, DC -- 15 (Hall of Famer)
Glenn Marcus, Washington, DC -- 15
Pat Sajak, Los Angeles, CA -- 15
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 15
John Voigt, Chicago, IL -- 15 (Hall of Famer)

Inner Strength

If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook when people take things out on you when, through no
fault of yours something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things . . .

Then you are probably the family dog.

NYC Parking Joke

A businessman walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer. He tells the loan officer that he is going to Italy on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000. The bank officer tells him that the bank will need some form of security for the loan, so the businessman hands over the keys to a new Ferrari.

The car is parked on the street in front of the bank. The businessman produces the title and everything checks out. The loan officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.

The bank's president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the businessman for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drives the Ferrari into the bank's underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, the businessman returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41.

The loan officer says, "Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"

The businessman replies: "Where else in New York City can I park a Ferrari for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"


Finding Nemo

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

Finding Nemo is great. Marlin is the role Albert Brooks was born to play. When Ellen (Dory) DeGeneres says, "the whale is half full," and Marlin says, "no it's half empty," its the summary of Brooks entire 34-year career as a performer (his real name is Albert Einstein, he's Bob Einstein's brother and the son of Harry "Parkyakarkus" Einstein, a movie and radio regular from the 30s and 40s and Thelma Leeds, a movie actress). DeGeneres' voice is barely recognizable and her performance is brilliant. Ditto Willem Dafoe as Gill.

Pixar, of course, has mastered the art of computer animation and taken it to a level that is breathtaking, both for its technical virtuosity and for the well-written, well-performed, well-paced multi-generational stories they use that technology to tell. And of course, the references to Monty Python (if Barry "Bruce" Humphries wasn't doing John Cleese, I'll eat my hat) won my heart.

Brilliant. Five stars. Fun for the whole family. Run, don't walk to the theater. Brilliant, clever, funny, well-done, and, at 100 minutes, the perfect length for a comedy.


Cat Column Alert, A Mess o' Dan Grobstein, Coquet on Texas Ed, Sims on G8, Malchman On Punishable Headlines

After an unusually long and silly lead-in, Jon Carroll wrote another of his excellent cat columns in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Dan Grobstein's usual crop of interesting stuff includes a parody Nigerian e-mail conference, an article from my hometown paper, The Oregonian about the Portland teachers (who are teaching 10 days for no pay this year). From the New York Times: a story of Starbucks, among other corporations, struggling to combat internet rumors, and a Nicholas Kristof column proposing China for membership in the G8. From the Washington Post: you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, especially if you're worried about terrorism. Gary B. Trudeau's Sunday Doonesbury strip from June 1 says it all about White House press operations. Trudeau is a genius; Dan and I agree.

Craig Reynolds found a conservative telling the truth about the conservative media and their biases. Now that's shocking.

Peggy Coquet writes:

I wanted to be sure you didn't miss this, since charter schools are so widely ballyhooed in Oregon, as well as elsewhere.

Re-educating the Voters About Texas' Schools
New York Times

June 3, 2003

Of all the education initiatives that lent such bloom to the Bush candidacy, none is looking more wilted than charter schools.

I had a feeling the charter school fad had no legs.

Dave Sims checks in with this interesting note about the G8 summit:

This is great: this BBC report on the end of the G8 summit includes a link to a very clever little slide show, which has an expert in body language picking apart and analyzing the touches and gestures between world leaders.

(click on the link, halfway down "What summit pictures reveal about post-war relationships")

Robert Malchman found this:

Headline from
Medical pot guru won't go to joint
Judge who barred mitigating argument gives token sentence
They're clearly having too much fun writing these. (Note the "toking" pun in the subhed.) It's like something from the bad old days of NRU.

What is it about puns and headline writers? Are deskpeople required by to pun by some obscure regulation?

The resignations at the New York Times were reported to me within hours. Jack Shafer had same day commentary on It saddened me to listen to the coverage because, of course, if Edwin Diamond were still alive, he'd be in the middle of it, as the dean of America's media commentators. I miss him still.

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