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: January 19, 2004

January 19, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 3

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Gradually Getting Back Into It
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 15 Things Overheard on Britney Spears' Honeymoon
  • The Top 15 Quotes We Wish Were in the "Lord of the Rings" Movies


  • Calendar Girls
  • Guest Review: Big Fish


  • Vitale on Worst Album Covers, Dern on Lord of the Rings Parodies, Grobstein File

General News

Gradually Getting Back Into It

Second week back after the lovely, loonnngg winter break, and I am slowly readjusting.

I know every first year teacher has it tough, and nearly all of them are convinced they are uniquely snowed under. But I claim special status: from April 1979 to October 2001, I worked at home as a full-time journalist. I set my own hours, got up when I wanted to, napped when I needed to, and worked until the job was done, five, six or seven days a week. It was great, of course. I never missed a breakfast or dinner with my family (except during relatively rare business trips), I never missed a school play, or a basketball game, or a band concert. I coached both my daughters' basketball teams (which would come as a real surprise to anyone who played Gra-Y with me in Portland, Oregon back in the day).

In short, I haven't had an office job with regular hours in 25 years. It takes some getting used to, the fact that I have to be there by 7:30 (7:15 is better, 7:44:59 is absolutely mandatory--that's when the bell rings) and can't leave, by contract, until 3, with 40 minutes for lunch. Not when I'm hungry, but from 12:07 to 12:47. And I have to eat it on campus. That's not a rule, just good sense when you have a class right after lunch.

Now for many of you, this little soliloquy will provoke a huge, yawning, so-what. That's your life I'm describing. And that's fine, you're used to it. I'm not. And, frankly, it takes some getting used to. Add that to the normal tension and pressure of being a first year teacher, combine it with the fact that I'm undergoing a total mid-life career change (and empty nesting at the same time), and you can see where I might be... oh, how shall I put it.... a little frazzled.

Political Notes is trying to air its anti-Bush Child's Pay during the Superbowl. You can help.

From Richard Dalton:

Sad to say, I just stumbled across this reference to a new book by neo-con uber-hawk Richard Perle in the UK's Telegraph. If it wasn't such a sad commentary on the state of our tattered union, I would have to look at it as a joke in very poor taste.

From the article:

President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto yesterday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

he manifesto, presented as a 'manual for victory' in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

Anyone know the immigration requirements for Canada?

Any time is a good time to oppose the NRA, but Dalton got a note from Michael Douglas, the actor, saying that now is a particularly good time.


The invasion of Iraq had little or nothing to do with the recent U.S. decision to agree (after an inexplicable and unconscionable 10 year delay inaugurated by Pres. George H.W.Bush in 1992) to Libya's relinquishment of any WMD, if any, it might have had. See "My Secret Talks With Libya, And Why They Went Nowhere" by (Former Senator) Gary Hart in The Washington Post, p. B5, January 18, 2004.


The reported $750,000 found with Mr. Hussein over a month ago can (if the bills are sequentially numbered as seems likely) be traced to the U.S. bankers in bed with him. See "Follow The Money" by Martin Mayer, in The New York Times, p. A23, Jan. 14, 2004. Have the financial ties of George Bush and Dick Cheney with the Saudis and others in the Gulf prevented them from advocating vigorous pursuit of these connections? Does the $150,000 Cheney received from Halliburton in 2003 and the $150,000 Cheney expects to receive from Halliburton in 2004 have any connection to the extra unsubstantiated (that's right, no proof of cost to Halliburton's supplier) $61,000,000 Halliburton received from the people of the United States for overpriced oil in 2003?


Dick Cheney is a party to a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (an appeal of a lower decision that Cheney must release certain energy related documents). Dick just spent part of a week (part of the week of Jan. 5-9, 2004) duck hunting with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Unless Scalia goes duck hunting with the other parties to the case (and there is no indication he has or will), his impartiality might be questioned. Under federal law (28 U.S.C. sec. 455), Scalia must recuse himself from any case in which his impartiality might be questioned. Scalia reportedly has decided not to recuse himself. See "Cheney and Scalia Went Hunting Together," by David G. Savage (of The Los Angeles Times) in The Washington Post, p. A4, Jan. 17, 2004. Of course, Justices Scalia, Rehnquist, and Thomas had a similar problem (their impartiality might be questioned and they each had relatives with vested interests in the outcome) in Bush v. Gore and decided to ignore their legal responsibilities in that case. Gore, or his lawyers, were lacking either the insight, wisdom, or intestinal fortitude to challenge the three justices then. Having thumbed his nose at the Congress (which passed 28 U.S.C. sec. 455) and all of the American people (regardless of who they wanted to prevail in Bush v. Gore) once, Justice Scalia may be making it a habit. The only Constitutional solution is to impeach Justice Scalia (perverting the system of justice sounds like a high enough misdemeanor to some). If your current representative and Senators won't meet their responsibilities, one might consider encouraging them to seek alternate employment and then employing some who will.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

None this week


The Top 15 Things Overheard on Britney Spears' Honeymoon

Tied for No. 4, on a list where Mr. Pat Sajak has No. 1

January 12, 2004

15> "Hurry, driver, get us back to our hotel room before she sobers up!"

14> "Yes, it's romantic to carry me over the threshold. I'm just saying it would be *more* romantic if your pants were still on."

13> "Am too a virgin! It doesn't count when you do it standing up."

12> "Okay, Jason, I gave it up. Now when are you gonna introduce me to Jerry Seinfeld?"

11> "Move! Go pee in the sink; I gotta puke again!"

10> "If anyone should see any reason why these two should not be wed -- other than their parents, their agents, their immediate families, struggling musical artists who have way more talent, a public that has grown tired of these kinds of ridiculous publicity stunts and humanity-at-large -- speak now or forever hold your peace."

9> "Hey, why is the bride on the cake dressed like a slut?"

8> "How long do you think this will last?" "Ten." "Ten what, honey?" "9... 8...."

7> "You may now kiss the bride. And when Madonna's done, the groom can have his turn."

6> "Jason, you had me at 'I'm a TopFive contributor.'"

5> "You didn't use a condom?!? Well, don't worry -- we can get *that* mistake annulled, too."

4> "Well, we still had more sex than Liza and David Gest and Michael and Lisa Marie combined."

3> "Hello, room service? I have a complaint: Someone has already eaten my Pop Tart."

2> "It's not pierced; it was wired shut by my record label."

and's Number 1 Thing Overheard on Britney Spears' Honeymoon...

1> "You are soooo cute. Look at you! You are absolutely adorable. You are-- I'LL BE RIGHT OUT, JASON... I'M IN THE BATHROOM!"

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 105 submissions from 38 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Pat Sajak, Los Angeles, CA -- 1 (4th #1)
Peter Bauer, Rochester, NY -- 4, 13 (Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 4

The Top 15 Quotes We Wish Were in the "Lord of the Rings" Movies

Who da man! Two lists in one week (tie for No. 7)

January 13, 2004

15> "Say my name, dwarf!"

14> "Look, Sam, my name isn't *Mr.* Frodo -- it's Frodo. Mr. Baggins if you're nasty."

13> "You had me at 'Aiya vanima.'"

12> "Nice work killing that Orc, faithful friend, but still it twitches. Slay it again, Sam!"

11> "I. Don't. Like. The. Leggings. Drying. On. The. Rod!"

10> "It don't mean a thing if you ain't got that ring... doo-wah-tee-wah, doo-wah-tee-wah, doo-wah-tee-wah!"

9> "Brethren of Gondor, we are gathered here to join Arwen Evenstar and Aragorn, son of Arathorn, in holy matrimony. Frodo, do you have the ring?"

8> "Elvens have left the building."

7> "Attention, audience: Fair Arwen is speaking, so you may all relax, as nothing important will take place. The next 10 minutes would be an excellent time to go pee."

6> "Legolas my Eggolas!"

5> "Go not by that path, Aragorn! For my young companion Osment sees dead people!"

4> "Smeagol, do you like movies about gladiators?"

3> "You sure you ain't never been just a wee bit curious, Mr. Frodo?"

2> "Ha! Let the dark armies of Saruman come! It would take an entire brigade of giant mutant four-tusked elephants to conquer our... well, son of a bitch!"

and's Number 1 Quote We Wish Were in a "Lord of the Rings" Movie...

1> "Run, forest, run!"

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 112 submissions from 43 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Chun Ho, Honolulu, HI -- 1 (8th #1)
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- 7 (Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 7


Calendar Girls

Cute, funny, British. Only very brief nudity. Based on a true story of country women who did a nude calendar to raise money. Worth seeing.

Guest Review: Big Fish

A second opinion, after I offered mine on December 29, 2003

Tim Burton's Big Fish is a delightful fable of the imagination. Warm-hearted and sweet, sentimental but not treaclely, the film is a highly-stylized recounting of a man's life and his interactions with his family. Yet, were it not for Burton's vivid eye and whimsical mind, the storylines of parent-child relations and how fantasy enriches reality would fall flat. It is not a film that can be neatly described in a sound bite and - despite a fine cast featuring Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, Billy Crudup, and Alison Lohman - the acting is almost secondary to the lush, painterly visual presentation. Big Fish is wondrous, full of dazzlingly-realized visions. Of particular brilliance is a scene where the young Edward Bloom (McGregor) first sees his future wife (Lohman) and time literally stands still, only to be speeded up moments later - to catch up, of course. It is a magical moment, with a never-seen-it-before quality reminiscent of James Cameron's morphed water creatures of The Abyss, George Lucas' alien cafe in Star Wars, or the early work at Pixar. Big Fish is a film to immerse yourself in, and you will emerge refreshed and enlightened.

--Neal Vitale


Vitale on Worst Album Covers, Dern on Lord of the Rings Parodies, Grobstein File

Worst-ever album covers? Neal Vitale found them here and here.

Daniel Dern checks in with If "The Lord of the Rings" had been written by someone else. The Douglas Adams parodies are very funny. And this is not some interesting new definition of funny with which you weren't previously familiar.

Dan Grobstein File:

The Toronto Star compares Bush to Hitler and wonders how Canadian PM Paul Martin should interact with him. Apropos of this, Alexander Cockburn's column (page 8 of The Nation of Jan. 26, 2004) excerpts from Dave Lindorff's comments in "It's going a bit far to compare the Bush of 2003 to the Hitler of 1933. Bush simply is not the orator that Hitler was."

From the Los Angeles Times:

Institute's report warns anti-terror campaign may launch 'open-ended and gratuitous conflict.'

War College Study Calls Iraq a 'Detour'
A report published by the Army War College criticizes the Bush administration's global war on terrorism as "unfocused" and contends that the war in Iraq is "unnecessary" and a "detour" that has diverted attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda.

New York Times

  • Paul Krugman keeps getting better and better. On the occasion of Paul O'Neill's revelations, coupled with the War College report on the war on terrorism, he wrote, "More important, having a few months of good news doesn't excuse a consistent pattern of dishonest, irresponsible leadership. And that pattern keeps getting harder to deny."
  • Slave Trade in Cambodia
  • Krugman: Howard Dean gets it.
  • It is now an annual event; Bush snubs the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by making an anti-civil rights move near his birthday. Red meat for his base.
  • Heart-rending story of poverty in America; bad luck, bad decisions, bad life.
  • Howard Dean skips an interview with Maureen Dowd, whose revenge is this snippy little column.

Washington Post

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