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: July 7, 2003

July 7, 2003 Vol. 5, No.28

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Big News: A Job, The Girls Return
  • Afghanistan
  • Edwin Diamond
  • Genius
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Web Site of the Week

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day, Times 404 Error


  • The Top 15 Wrigley Viagra Gum Slogans


  • Hulk Revisited
  • Alex and Emma
  • Terminator 3
  • The Hard Word
  • Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde


  • Dalton on Bush, Rosenbaum on Breslin, Grobstein File, Coquet on the Fourth, Jon Carroll Cat Column

General News

Big News: A Job, The Girls Return

Some weeks, it seems there's nothing to write about. Other weeks: Katy Bar The Door!

I have a real job for the first time since Oct. 2001. I have been hired to teach high school U.S. History for three weeks of summer school, July 14-Aug. 1. The same students, four hours a day, five days a week, for three weeks. Covering a term of content. This is where the rubber meets the road, folks. No more theory. Just performance anxiety and sleepless nights and finding out if I like it, and can do it, and all that stuff that has been theoretical--despite substitute teaching, despite student teaching--until now. The trick, I think, will be keeping things in perspective and leading a normal life outside class--that, and passing the CLAD class I'm taking on line.

Meanwhile, Marlow and Rae got on an earlier flight, and instead of arriving at 9:30 pm Saturday night, they got in at 8 p.m., 22 hours after they left their hotel room in Cork, Ireland. Such a pleasure and a joy to have them both home for a few weeks, before Marlow traipses off to Taiwan and Rae to Brandeis in Waltham, Mass.


The San Francisco Chronicle recently featured the efforts of Lafayette, Calif.'s Girl Scout Troop 1913 to raise $25,000 to build secular schools in Afghanistan that accept girls as students.

Vicki and I don't normally tout our charitable giving, but we sent a donation, via the local troop, to the fine work being done by the Central Asia Institute, which has built 28 such schools. It seems like a damn good idea to us.

Edwin Diamond

[There is a permanent copy of this appreciation]

I went looking on Google the other day for references to the most influential teacher I ever had, Edwin Diamond. You find a lot of his book reviews, and some of his seminars, all of them in the present tense, before you get to this notice at the University of Chicago web site:

Edwin Diamond, PhB'47, AM'49, a journalist, author, and NYU professor, died July 10, 1997 in New York City. He was 72. After starting his career as a science writer with the International News Service in Chicago, he joined Newsweek in 1957, becoming a senior editor in 1962. He was an on-air commentator for the Washington Post Co., editorial director of Adweek, and cofounder of the Washington Journalism Review. A WWII veteran and a Korean War Army intelligence officer, Diamond received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. An associate editor of the New York Daily News in the early 1980s, and a media columnist for New York magazine for 10 years, Diamond was a visiting professor of political science at MIT before joining NYU's faculty in 1984. He wrote a dozen books and won numerous awards for writing, editing, and classroom teaching, as well as a 1994 Professional Achievement Award from the U of C's Alumni Association. He is survived by his wife, Adelina Lust Diamond, AB'47; three daughters, including Ellen Diamond Waldman, AB'73; a sister, Natalie Diamond Peiser, AB'50; and six grandchildren.

Now those are the simple facts, but when someone Googles Edwin Diamond, I want them to find more than "just the facts, m'am."

He was the single finest professor I encountered during four years at MIT. He made me what I am today. I think he was and would be proud of that; I know I am proud to have served him in a staff capacity.

Edwin was a raconteur. He used to tell us he spoke Russian because he learned it while playing basketball in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., when he was called back to active duty during the Korean War. Do the math; he was less than 20 years old when he served in World War II, an experience he never talked about.

Edwin had a sense of humor and drama, and he was a lucky man. As a science writer at the International News Service, he wrote many great stories, one of which was headlined in many Hearst Newspapers as "A-Powered Locomotives and Smokeless Cities," about the future of atomic power. He did talk about his wire service experience. He would tell wonderful stories of his days at INS. In 1957, Dick Winslow was science editor of Newsweek, and recruited Edwin. INS locked him in a room and tried to convince him to stay. Within weeks of his departure, United Press bought INS and fired virtually its entire staff. Edwin just dodged the bullet.

Edwin rose to become a senior editor at Newsweek, and was actually named editor, but was overthrown by a palace coup while he was making a long-planned trip to Novosavirsk, the science city in Siberia. That might seem unlucky.

But when the Newsweek editorship fell through, Edwin, through his friendship with MIT Prof. (and later president) Jerome Wiesner, got a job as a visiting lecturer in the Political Science department at MIT. Plus he kept a string of freelance gigs (including a long stint as media critic of New York Magazine). I know he loved the MIT job--so much that I wanted to become a college professor. Unlike Edwin, I didn't have the education, intelligence and connections. In any case, it was at MIT that I met Edwin. Cathy Buckley took me to one of his lectures in the spring of 1971. It was love at first sight. The rest is history.

Edwin was an unrecognized pioneer. In 1970, he became the media commentator at WTOP television in Washington, a Post-Newsweek station. No matter what the history books say, Edwin was almost the first media analyst at a major American news outlet.

By the way, he wrote a LOT of books. He started writing them when he was at Newsweek and continued to write them until he died. In the early years, they were about science. In the later years, they were media criticism--sometimes collected New York Magazine columns, sometimes original research by the Network News Study Group (later the News Study Group) which I helped launch.

Edwin always trusted the young men and women he taught. He made me his consiglieri; he hated paperwork and details. As a sophomore, I handled these things for him at MIT, along with my trusty lieutenants, the late Richard Parker (I need to do an obit on him one of these days too) and Norman Sandler. It was heady power.

He developed a personal mentor *relationship with many of his students. Edwin had me to his apartments in Cambridge and New York, and to his home in historic Sands Point, Long Island. I met his wife Adelina, the love of Edwin's life; his daughters were all grown or off to college by the time I knew him. He was the only professor I knew personally. I know now that most students are never admitted into any professor's life.

Edwin served as a role model. As a sophomore, I had to choose a major. I asked myself; who did I want to be like when I was 47; Edwin Diamond, or my other professors. That cinched it. I became a journalist because of him. I wrote for WJR, the New York Daily News and AdWeek during the time he was an editor at those publications.

Edwin was always loyal and helpful to people who were loyal and helpful to him. After leaving Newsweek, Winslow later became an editor at Walker & Co. and asked Edwin to write a book about the use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. Edwin wasn't interested, but he convinced Dick to let me write the book. That book got me out of UPI, made me a published author, and enabled me to move to San Francisco, where I eventually met the love of my life, to whom I am still married at the 23-year mark.

MIT never offered him tenure; NYU did, and working there meant no more weekly commute to Cambridge, so Edwin took his enormous talent to another university for the last phase of his life. We drifted apart, speaking irregularly, but with lingering affection. He dropped me a note the morning of the day he died, which arrived the day after his memorial service. He was way too young to die. Ever since, I check obits, and ask myself, if the person was older than 72, "did they deserve more time than Edwin?" The answer is rarely yes--not that they deserve less time (usually) but that Edwin deserved more. He is the standard by which I judge the lives of people of achievement.

Edwin was a towering figure, and I miss him almost every day, six years after his death.


Kevin Sullivan wrote:

I noticed two items from your latest column. I wondered if your placement of them was intentional.

In the midst of the piece about Amma "In fact, in a way, it reminded me of my occasional chances (mostly while a student at MIT) to watch a genius in action. I will never be a genius or a saint, but watching them do their work is a moving experience. And one that makes me aspire to be more like them."

"The cats are sleeping peacefully in the warm sun." The man is a genius, pure and simple.

Can you say more about the quality of genius? Can you recognize it budding in your students? It clearly impresses you. Is there a relationship between genius and success? Or perhaps geniuses find a way to define their own success? Thoughts please.

Well, first of all, the juxtaposition was unintentional. And, while I strive, intellectually, not to overuse the word genius (because I feel it is overused in general), perhaps I do sling it around a bit too often.

Genius, to me, is the effortless exercise of truly, visibly, obviously extraordinary talent in an endeavor, in a fashion which seems inborn. It is not generic--in fact, as you know from our overlapping time at MIT, scientific geniuses are often social idiots. We knew a few at school. I have met a few in my years as a computer journalist. Bill Gates is a genius at business, more so than at programming, although he was an excellent programmer in his day. Socially, he's inept. So, apparently, is Larry Ellison, a genius whom I've never met. I'd have to say that Bill Clinton is a political genius and a moral idiot.

Those geniuses are all successes. I don't want to name the genius failures I know, because I don't believe any of them would define themselves as failures, despite the lack of financial or personal relationship success in their lives. Genius and success, in my experience, may evince themselves in a single life, but genius is no guarantee of success, and not all successes are geniuses.

Can I recognize genius in my students? Too soon to tell. As a student teacher, I quickly found that I could pretty much stretch the class out on a bell-shaped curve after a week, without reference to the grade book. I don't prejudge. I don't slot students. I fervently believe that anyone can change at any time, as long as they want to change. Alas, so few do. Finely calculating the line between a C and a D and skating on it would not be my idea of a good time, but for many students it appears to be a rousing pastime.

After your note, I reconsidered my coincidental use of the term twice in a column. I stand by it. Amma is a spiritual genius. Jon Carroll is one of the best newspaper writers ever to appear in print in this country. If he worked in the East, he'd have several Pulitzers by now. I hope that, unlike Herb Caen, the committee doesn't wait until he's 80, or, worse yet, that they ignore him forever like Art Hoppe (who he? Great overlooked Chronicle columnist).

Political Notes

Is it a culture war? Brilliant San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll says it is a culture seige because only one side is firing. We never passed a law making abortion mandatory or private prayer illegal; why is the other side shooting at us?

* * *

This is why I read the newspaper every morning. In the self-same issue of the Chronicle, I found a Washington Post article by David Von Drehle, Bush walks a fine line in gay marriage debate - He tries to placate the right without sounding intolerant, an article that was absurd from so many angles it bent me over double in hysterics. But the best line came almost at the end:

"This is just not an issue we want to talk about," said a longtime Bush friend who spoke on condition his name not be used. "It plays to a negative stereotype of Republicans as sex-obsessed and narrow-minded. Swing voters -- and the libertarian elements in the Republican Party -- will not enjoy a debate about a constitutional amendment on gay marriage."

Stereotypes come from somewhere, of course. On the national level, most leaders of the GOP are sex-obsessed and narrow-minded (see Kenneth Starr, Trent Lott, Rick Santorum, Tom DeLay). Tough to complain about a reputation you've worked so hard to earn, but it is a pleasure watching Bush run away from it. The sad part is, he'll succeed, owing to the inordinately short attention span of the American people.

* * *

Slate offers presidential candidates Advice on How to Beat Tim Russert on NBC's Meet The Press. I hope the candidates read and heed. Russert's a one-trick pony who is not quite as brilliant as he thinks he is.

* * *

Richard Dalton found MIT's Open Government Information Awareness web site. It's mission:

To empower citizens by providing a single, comprehensive, easy-to-use repository of information on individuals, organizations, and corporations related to the government of the United States of America.

To allow citizens to submit intelligence about government-related issues, while maintaining their anonymity. To allow members of the government a chance to participate in the process.


I certainly don't agree with Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.--some of his political positions are (or were) repugnant. But there's nothing wrong with his analysis of the Iraq war. Too more brilliant and honest Senate floor speeches are reproduced at The Nation's web site:

Iraq's WMD Intelligence June 23, 2003

'The Truth Will Emerge' June 9, 2003

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Craig Reynolds surfs the net for you.

"Trusted computing" is a corporate euphemism for monopolistic "lock in": John Markoff writes in the NYTimes A Safer System for Home PC's Feels Like Jail to Some Critics, excerpts: ... "This will kill innovation," said Ross Anderson, a computer security expert at Cambridge University... "They're doing this to increase customer lock-in." ... "Microsoft's use of the term `trusted computing' is a great piece of doublespeak," said Dan Sokol... "What they're really saying is, `We don't trust you, the user of this computer.'"

RIAA v Everyone: reactions to RIAA's idiotic plan to sue their customers: Record labels could face risks in music piracy suits, Where Have All the CDs Gone? and 'Let The Music Play' Ads Target RIAA on EFF's campaign in support of P2P file sharing. Of course, the world wide community of software developers and free thinkers can easily out-think the music industry, developing secure P2P networks: Giving Sharers Ears Without Faces. Finally, see Jonathan Zittrain's excellent essay The Copyright Cage on why Copyright law needs to change.

Lots of Robots (LOR): the computer animation world is full of people who want to make their own feature film. Andy Murdock gets chutzpah points for having completed the first 5 minutes of his. Beyond the pure audacity, it looks really cool. I also like the concept of his work-in-progress DVD: 5 minutes of animation, and an hour of "bonus features". See Wired's article on Andy and LOR.

Technobits: Salon on the Public Library of Science (a concept I strongly endorse) --- Microsoft Word bytes Tony Blair in the butt --- EFF weighs in on Lexmark's attempt to use the DMCA to prevent competition in a free market --- Major consumer electronics players create Linux forum, the CE Linux Forum is a major blow to Microsoft --- Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster --- DreamWorks (my former employer) says Sinbad is the first 100% Linux movie.

Web Site of the Week

Astronomy Picture of the Day, Times 404 Error

This from the lovely and talented Bobbi Fox, who has done extensive intra-, extra-, and Internet web site development, and developed other database-driven software applications for search engine, medical/healthcare, and CAD/CAM applications.

The explanation of this Hubble picture notes that " could be perceived as a superhero flying through a cloud, arm up, with a saved person in tow below" Of course, to me, it looks like a giant raised middle digit.....

Daniel Dern tipped me to Anthony Cox's The Weapons of Mass Destruction 404 error page, which I had run previously, but while renewing my acquaintance with it, I found I enjoyed this British author's The New York Times 404 error page. You may enjoy it as well.


The Top 15 Wrigley Viagra Gum Slogans

No. 10 seemed so obvious, yet I wasn't even tied for the slot.

June 30, 2003


Chewing gum giant Wrigley has patented an anti-impotency gum that contains some of the same active-ingredients as Viagra.


But how will they market it? Glad you asked...

15> Double your measure, double your gun

14> Share a stick with the one you love

13> Just like the Cubs at Wrigley Field, you, too, will be able to play at night!

12> The flavor that never lets you down

11> We put the "spear" in "spearmint"

10> Double your pleasure, double your fun, halve your whining about how it's never happened before

9> Chew it all the way home

8> New Wrigley's Viagra gum: We bring your thing to life

7> Time for the seven-inch stretch!

6> Melts in your mouth, not in your pants

5> Have you had a stick lately?

4> Hey old man, wanna piece of candy?

3> Recommended by 4 out of 5 dentists as an effective way to fill cavities

2> Forget the flavor -- you'll be like a bedpost overnight

and's Number 1 Wrigley Viagra Gum Slogan...

1> It's Wrigidly Delicious!

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2003 by Chris White ]
Selected from 119 submissions from 44 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- 1 (58th #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 10


Hulk: Second Opinion

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

In response to my unenthusiastic review, Daniel Dern gives The Hulk 1.5 Big Green Thumbs Up:

Of all the comic-superhero movies I've seen lately (Spider-Man, Daredevil, X2, X1 (at a friend's house), The Phantom (on cable), and doubtless some others), I found myself liking this one the most, qua movie.

I loved Spider-Man, and loved seeing the first half again (on cable), but didn't want to sit through Goblin goes over the top; ditto I'm ready to re-watch the first half of Daredevil, especially the what's-a-guy-need-to-do-to-get-your-phone-number scene in the playground. But both Spidey and DD went over the top in violence and blood, feh. Even X2 -- which I liked a lot -- got carried away. This is the first of the lot that I left the theater simply feeling I'd seen a good film I enjoyed.

Most faithful to the comic? Hardly. Do I care? Not this time. IMHO, it kept moving, and thankfully avoided trying to have a supervillain that needed combating, until the end.


It was nice to see Betty Ross as a player, not an innocent, and for more complexity in her relationship with her dad, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, Ditto the reality-facing sequences, e.g. her turning him in, her telling her dad that she wouldn't fink on Bruce, but since Dad was presumably monitoring everything she did, she wouldn't need to.

I think if they'd tried to do something truer to the original Grey Guy (remember, he wasn't originally green), it would have turned into more of a pure slugfest.

Sure, working from the middle of the Peter David run of Hulk would have been fun stuff (I'm thinking of the 'Joe Fixit in Vegas' arcs), but I think it would have been lost on most of the audience.

I agree re the split screen work (loved it)... though the relationship to comic panels didn't occur to me until I was reading some comics later that day.

My only cavil (gotta have at least one), they never did explain how Bruce's pants kept surviving, except for the one scene they split. I know some pants have expander-waists, but even so...

Anyway, I enjoyed Hulk, the heck with you on this one.

Tom LaSusa's opinion:

I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. Very well crafted, well thought out. Excellent psychodrama aspects. Loved the part where Bruce admitted that the feeling of power was like a rush, and that scared him.

I was very happy to see that it wasn't 2 hours+ of "Hulk Smash". Ang Lee was right to ignore the Studio honchos who bitched about the lack of action and focus on a point.

I think he may have just pushed it a little too long in my by maybe fifteen or twenty minutes. Some of it was a little drawn out. And yes, it was a little weird to have to wait almost forty five minutes for the first appearance of the Hulkster.

The CGI? Not bad at all. Of course it didn't look's a 15-20 foot tall GREEN MAN! he's leaping the Grand Bloody Canyon! There's no way they were going to make that look real.

Would I see it again? Not till video. Would I buy it? Probably not. But I was not disappointed in my choice.

A final note from Dern, who saw it "somewhere:"

Don't make me Ang Lee... you wouldn't like me when I'm Ang Lee.

Alex and Emma

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Just when you think you've seen every cutesy trick and idea in the world that could possibly form the basis of a romantic comedy, they come up with another one. In this case, the framing device is an author who must finish a book in 30 day or be rubbed out by loan sharks to whom he owes $100,000 (Luke Wilson). He hires a stenographer (Kate Hudson) and... surprise... falls in love with her. At least Rob Reiner [who has three cute cameo scenes] the director and screenwriter Jeremy "Legend of Bagger Vance" Leven do not slavishly follow the conventions of the genre; the first kiss does not come in the final scene. The story of the author and stenographer becomes intertwined with the story the author is writing. Alas, neither story is all that strong, but then since when is a romantic comedy about the plot?

It is cute, sweet, funny and [SPOILER] has a happy ending, in both the novel and real life. I mean, come on, it's a Hollywood movie. What did you expect?

Over at IMDB, several people see a remarkable, uncredited resemblance to Paris - When It Sizzles. Never saw it, couldn't say.

Kate's cute, Luke's sweet. There are worse ways to burn off 96 minutes of PG-13 (for sexual content and some language--although I didn't hear the language) fun.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

Good heavens! It is possible to take the Terminator series of films seriously! Who'd have thought it. I mean, I can see a learned and intellectual discussion of the Matrix, which involves (for Hollywood) some deep and philosophical ideas. But Terminator? It is Arnold Schwarzenegger punching things and blowing things up, for pity's sake.

The San Francisco Chronicle had an interesting story in the Sunday paper, keyed to the premiere of T3. The Chronicle has also begun using longer, more descriptive titles in lieu of headlines in the Datebook section. The article I found intriguing was entitled Old blockbusters don't die, they just lose their original stars, directors and writers when they return in sequel after sequel. Here's a look at screen franchises that have outlasted their creators ... and maybe their appeal as well. Need I say more? These descriptive multi-line title/headlines are an interesting experiment in newspaper and online journalism, by the way.

Anyway, as sequels go, this one has Arnold and that's about it. New director, new John Connor, no more Linda Hamilton. The creepy shrink is back for a brief cameo. When I heard his voice, it gave me the creeps.

At least one review criticized this film for having the exact same plot as T2. Good grief! All the Harry Potter books have the same plot; so did the Road Runner cartoons. The challenge is to live within the Haiku-like confines of the genre and still say something original and entertaining. This film does that. To criticize Arnold for being wooden is like criticizing a tree (or Al Gore) for being wooden. You are what you are.

I found the ratio of talk-talk to bang-bang to be just about right, and there is a twist ending that I, for one, definitely did not see coming. In fact, it rather surprised me, but I have no plans to spoil it for you. Let's just hope there is no T4.

Rated R for sex and violence. There's a surprise.

This series will certainly form an interesting backdrop to Gov. Schwarzenegger's administration here in California.

The Hard Word

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

First, a tip o' the PSACOT hat to Neal Vitale. Who needs Ebert and Roeper? On June 20, Neal wrote of this film:

I think you'll like it. A quirky caper flick.

Boy, was he right. I mean, I've seen some Australian films before, but writer/director Scott Roberts has really taken the cake with this one. It's kind of like one of those Scottish or Irish films, or watching the English do Shakespeare, where you know they're speaking English but it still takes you 10 or 15 minutes to get into the accents, and there's still a whole sentence that gets by you now and then. Guy Pearce has his most memorable role since Memento as the leader of a fraternal trio of no-guns bank robbers. As his wife, Rachel Griffiths (Brenda from HBO's Six Feet Under) gets to sink her teeth into one of the most complex roles I've ever seen for a woman in a caper flick. Who knew she was Australian? Robert Taylor's Frank the attorney is one of the most satisfying villains since Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

As always in a caper film, it's the caper that makes it or breaks it. This is a very satisfying caper, followed by a double-twist ending. I'll buy you dinner if you can honestly tell me you saw it coming.

Rated R for strong violence, language, sexuality and brief drug use. And only 102 minutes!

By all means, see it if it plays your town--assuming you can stand a little gore and implied sex, along with one line of cocaine being sniffed. It is clever, intellectual and fun to watch.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde

You want the facts? Go to the Internet Movie Database

This movie was cute. The first one was cuter. It was vastly over-praised in the reviews. That's the opinion of my wife Vicki, who went to see it with me this week. I found it "I Love Lucy" embarrassing in places. Enough froth to finish off a battalion of coffee drinks. Enough cute to supply a Hello Kitty convention. This movie takes the willing suspension of disbelief to new heights. Reese Witherspoon is clearly going to be with us for a while, playing the roles Alicia Silverstone is now apparently too good for. The writing is either sweet and innocent or the nastiest kind of cynical; I can't decide which.

On the other hand, it's nice to see Sally Fields working, and getting more than a cameo at that.

PG-13 for sex related humor. At least your kids will learn what a discharge petition does. Actually, I have to admit, this film is ever-so-slightly educational about the ways of Washington, which is pretty remarkable for a mindless piece of summer fluff. No one associated with this movie need worry about Oscar coming to call. Plus: just over 90 minutes long!


Dalton on Bush, Rosenbaum on Breslin, Grobstein File, Coquet on the Fourth, Jon Carroll Cat Column

Did Bush say God told him to go to war, as reported in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and linked from this column last week? Richard Dalton found a more reasoned analysis of the report at the progressive web site Common Dreams, which points out there's a whole lot of translatin' going on.

Dan Rosenbaum was moved to write by two items from last week:

I'm not impressed by Jimmy Breslin saying he's going to quit journalism. There are quite a number of people who would not-so-gently suggest that he quit journalism 20-odd years ago. He just hasn't stopped typing yet.

Like you, I'm puzzled by SF's odd ambivalence toward its waterfront, which nearly rivals Manhattan's. I'd think there'd be some million-dollar hotels there. But no -- nothing.

The Dan Grobstein File:

  • Regarding Howard Dean (and other Dems) on Meet the Press and Tim Russert. (Daily Howler)
  • We may have sluggish corporate profits, but from what I read, corporations are using every loophole that they can and are not paying the same rate in taxes as they used to. The top tax guys work for business, not government so nobody can call them on it. (Offshore headquarters, selling your trademark to an offshore company controlled by you and paying tax deductible royalties to use your own name, etc.)
  • Lots of books being sold these days, just not in bookstores. (New York Times)
  • Who's in charge of the WMD search? Bush doesn't know. (Time Magazine via Christopher Allbritton's Back In Iraq 2.0)
  • Great Republican idea No. 1: let's redistrict every time a state legislature changes hands, instead of once every 10 years; we'll start with Texas. (New York Times) No. 2: Let's be sure fewer people get overtime. (New York Times)
  • Man Gets Life In Prison For Spitting (you gotta love American juries). (New York Times/AP)

I should do at least one thing to recognize the holiday, so here's a note from Peggy Coquet:

Have a wonderful Fourth of July. I always have mixed feelings about it. I'm suspicious of patriotism (chauvinism), since it is often used to disguise less noble messages, such as "Shut up and be grateful, you damn hippie!" And I'm not fond of explosions, since I'm not a teenage boy. I am fond of the United States, but I have considered leaving her off and on since the Democratic Primary in Chicago in 1968. That urge has been reactivated. Steve wants to move for climate and living expense, so he wants to go to Mexico. I want to move for political reasons, so I want to go to Canada. Can this marriage be saved? <g>

It comes down to what you want out of life. At 52, I want to be left the hell alone, mostly. I want rewarding work (my desktop publishing business is all that!). I want a high-speed internet connection, guaranteed health care and freedom of speech. Twenty-five acres in the woods with a year-round stream would be nice, as long as it was 10 minutes to the nearest hospital. Oh, well ... I'll probably live out my old age in this no-Starbucks town, raging about politicians, worrying about doctor bills, and watching Netflix.

My family had vowed to move to Canada if George Wallace won in 1968. I'm rather glad he didn't, but we thought there was a real chance of it.

Jon Carroll's cat columns no longer come with a warning. As Jon says,

Alert readers will have noticed that I have eliminated the cat-column warnings. They were only an experiment, after all. No one promised this would be easy. Rob Morse writes about where he eats lunch, but does he warn you about high restaurant content in his column? He does not.

My suggestion is: If you find yourself reading an unwelcome cat column, stop reading. Move directly to a more palatable section of the paper. Check this space the next business day. Our pledge: never, ever, two cat columns in a row.

To obtain a reminder when I post my weekly electronic column,
or to offer feedback, advice, praise, or criticism, email me. (pes-at-sign-schindler-dot-org)

New versions of my column are hosted here at Typepad.

Old versions of my column are hosted here at


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