PS... A Column
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.
February 23, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 8
Table of Contents:
A Marvelous Time with Rae
I spent the four-day President's Day weekend in Waltham with Rae. There are now numerous people in the Boston area with whom I would like to spend some time, and I fondly hope I will find a way to do that. But Rae asked for all of my time this weekend, and I know that this period of her life won't last long, so I gave it to her, willingly and lovingly. I had a rather hard time getting out of Logan--suffice it to say that I was turned back from the gate at Hertz three times (!) for being in the wrong car. But after that, everything went very well. We stayed in the Home Suites hotel. I don't remember where we had Friday dinner, but Saturday we ate at the Naked Fish, a short dash from the edge of the motel (but a very cold dash in 10-degree weather), and Sunday we had an Indonesian Risjtaffel at the Andover Inn. I spent all weekend worrying about snow (which I cannot drive in), but fortunately none every fell.
In the room, Rae and I watched Lion King 1 1/2 on DVD (very amusing) as well as The Graduate, which I had probably not seen since it first came out in the 60s. I am pretty sure I saw it with my family, because I remember the scene in the strip club when the stripper sets the tasssels going in different directions, and asking Mom if she could do that. Her response is lost to history. It is quite a film, and holds up very well over the years. Rae pointed out a strong similarity between the film and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, both of which come out of the same era. They feature protagonists confused by the lack of rules and uncertain even who sets the rules. I thought this was astute and insightful.
Saturday I met her young man, Michael, who was on his way home to New Jersey for Brandeis' Reading Week break. We had lunch at Veggie Planet off Harvard Square, a nice little restaurant/performance space located below street level that serves interesting vegetarian food. I kept waiting for the meat, of course. Afterwards we went to the Boskone Science Fiction convention, and met up with my friends Daniel Dern and Bobbi Fox. Sunday morning, it was brunch with Barb, my college buddy, and her family in Weston (quite near Waltham). So many others I'd have loved to see, but Rae wanted to catch a movie, so we went to Girl with a Pearl Earring, which was showing in Waltham. I would have preferred Fog of War, but the showtime was inconvenient. Funny, they had us queued up outside in the sub-freezing weather. Bad management.
Because I had spent the entire week (by coincidence) telling my students about the Lowell Mills in Waltham, Mass, Rae and I went there Monday morning so I could take pictures with her new digital camera. Then an Indian lunch, and I was off to Logan to return home, late Monday night, with teaching to do Tuesday morning.
I think it is safe to say we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. In her own blog, Rae called it the best Valentine's Day ever. I am pleased, honored and flattered. Even though I have been demoted to bit player in her life, I enjoy the fact that I am a beloved bit player.
Anger and Revenge: Redux
I wrote last week about anger and revenge fantasies involving my students. A wise woman of my acquaintance --my mother--riposted that the apparent target of my anger was not the real target. Instead, she posits, this is simply the anger I have been swallowing since the age of 12; anger at bullies, anger at unfair teachers, anger at incompetent mangers. I am a very non-confrontational person, it is true, and I have been swallowing my anger for years. I don't think I'm inappropriately angry in class--in fact, I am sure I am not. I get irritated when students don't meet my standards, or even what should their own standards--when then don't even TRY to meet their standards or mine. Anyway, I like her interpretation, so I'm adopting it.
News From Marlow
More details of Marlow's travels are here.
As my departure looms in the near future I'm finding it harder to focus on email.
But anyway, over the last week and a half I've played Mahjong, checked out the lanterns at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (I used a disposable camera for this so it'll be awhile before you get to see any of these pictures), cooked Chinese food with my cooking class group (Jianna and Jonathon), gone swimming with Nancy a couple times, caught up on even more Sex and the City (almost all of season 4), paid my last rent ever for Taipei, tutored, gone clubbing for Valentine's day, and spent a couple hours singing at KTV.
So there it is in short, just so you know I'm still alive and kicking.
It sucks to be the Bush press spokesman these days. Thank you Craig Reynolds.
And so it begins. Look for Karl Rove and his puppet "President" Bush to Willie Horton John Kerry to within an inch of his life. Their Photoshopping minions are already hard at work manufacturing fake evidence. The machinations of the amateurs are easily exposed, but with the CIA at his disposal, the president will surely be able to turn out better fakes, of his own records and Kerry's, as the campaign progresses.
Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs
The Outkast "Hey Ya!" meme:here at Technobriefs we rarely (well, OK, never) touch on the Hip Hop scene. But when an Outkast song gets noticed by Howard Dean, The Polaroid Corporation, United Features Syndicate, and 50ish technogeeks like me, one has to ask: what the minizzel is going on? A few months ago I might have been able to identify "Outkast" as a band, but didn't know their music from a hole in the ground, and assumed it wasn't my cup of tea. Now I simply cannot get Hey Ya! out of my head. Some reporter did a soft piece on what music the Democratic presidential candidates listen to. It stuck in my mind that Howard Dean said "Outkast". Then I started seeing links to a page called "Too Much Caffeine" at Venis Productions, but could never get through. Later via Lessig's blog I found a mirror. Briefly, imagine a high-energy very infectious pop song, illustrated by cleverly edited footage from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Well United Features Syndicate didn't like that at all and stated firing off take-down notices to all the websites. (Don't tell them, but for the moment there is a copy here.) Fun song, fun video, interesting issues about copyright, the public domain, derivative works, etc. For more on that see Copyright Enters a Gray Area.
In my cluelessness, I didn't realize that the Charlie Brown version was sort of a parody of theofficial video for Hey Ya! Which itself is a takeoff on the 1964 "British Invasion" appearance by the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Except in the Outkast version, an American Hip Hop band is invading 1960s Britain. All members of the band in this video are played by Andre 3000 of Outkast -- which recalls Paul McCartney's 1980 video of Coming Up in which Sir Paul played the whole band. Recently Outkast was in the news for what has been described as an ethnically insensitive performance of Hey Ya! near the end of the Grammys. Finally the reach of this song has become so vast that the Polaroid Corporation felt the need to mention that regardless of what Outkast says, you should not shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture.
[Editor's note: I love the Outkast video, which is in heavy rotation on Noggin, from which I Tivo Daria episodes. Didn't know it was all one guy though]
DARPA's Grand Challenge, an offroad race for robotic vehicles, will be held March 13, some early coverage here:A New Race of Robots, Gentlemen, Start Your Robots and Clash of the Headless Humvees.
Technobits: ignoring for a moment Microsoft's new unintentional open source policy, how about taking200 days to fix a critical vulnerability? --- Canada joins online piracy fight --- Amazon reviewers unmasked --- email more truthful than phone --- improv on Mars: rover's unanticipated ability --- Search For Tomorrow --- HP to Create Digital Archive of All Time Magazines --- Gallery of network images --- Classic '80s Games --- flight 23, now arriving from Helvetica.
Voice over IP
Richard Dalton, my friend and former colleague, follows telecommunications closely, so his opinion is important and well-informed.
Jeff Pulver is a character. He has been championing Internet-based communications (voice, video, text, and anything else technically feasible) for more than a decade, although his background is more in investments than technology. He has also dabbled in software and magazine publishing, and is a ham radio enthusiast.
This week, the FCC ruled in favor of Jeff's IP voice start-up, Free World Dialup, a peer-to-peer network with about 80,000 subscribers, that provides free worldwide phone service over broadband.
As voice over IP becomes a real part of the communications spectrum (one expert I talked with estimated that 20% of all voice traffic now goes over IP circuits) it behooves us all to pay attention to the phenomenon. It will, over time, change the "phone system" we are familiar with from a circuit-switched antique to a wholly new, switched infrastructure that will change communications regulations, taxation and features. One nice fringe benefit: the justice department has not yet figured out how to tap VoIP.
Jeff'sfree report and blog are a good place to start. His pricey conferences tend to be only for the digiterati.
Here's a dilemma for you....
With all your honor and dignity what would you do? This test only hasone question, but it's a very important one. Please don't answer it without giving it some serious thought. By giving an honest answer you will be able to test where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation, where you will have to make a decision one way or the other. Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous. Please scroll down slowly and consider each line - this is important for the test to work accurately.
You're in Florida...In Miami, to be exact. There is great chaos going on around you, caused by a hurricane and severe floods. There are huge masses of water all over you. You are a CNN photographer and you are in the middle of this great disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless. You're trying to shoot very impressive photos. There are houses and people floating around you, disappearing into the water. Nature is showing all its destructive power and is ripping everything away with it.
Suddenly you see a man in the water, he is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken away by the masses of water and mud. You move closer. Somehow the man looks familiar. Suddenly you know who it is - it's George W. Bush! At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to take him away, forever. You have two options. You can save him or you can take the best photo of your life.
So you can save the life of George W. Bush, or you can shoot a Pulitzer prize winning photo, a unique photo displaying the death of one of the world's most powerful men. And here's the question (please give an honest answer):
Would you select color film, or rather go with the simplicity of classic black and white?
If you really like those slow Anglo-French productions that serve up a steaming slice of period atmosphere without too much action and motion to distract you from the leisurely plot, you'll love Girl With A Pearl Earring, the spiritual brother of Shakespeare in Love. Just as that previous, outstanding British film, this is a fictional recreation of the creation of a work of art. In the prior case, of Romeo and Juliet. In this case, of the eponymous Vermeer painting, as envisioned previously in a novel. Scarlett Johansson once again demonstrates that she's an actor with real acting chops, as she plays the servant girl in the picture. You wouldn't want to let a teenager within 100 yards of the theater showing this film, but Rae (19, interested in art) really enjoyed it, as did I, as would most adults interested in culture. As an added bonus, you get an education in how oil colors are made.
Neal Vitale's Oscar Picks
Neal Vitale, as the observant among you have noted, has been guest reviewing movies in this column for several months. He is a college classmate (he was my Arts Editor when I was Editor of The Tech). He lives in LA and has a lot of connections in the entertainment business. I would offer you my Oscar picks, but I think his are probably more accurate. I just really wish Kiss at the End of the Rainbow from Mighty Wind was going to win, but it is not.
My picks for the 2004 Oscars (who I think will win, not necessarily who I think should win):
Brandeis Praised, Yiddish for Martha, Dern's News, Dan Grobstein File
The Boston Globe did a nice feature on Brandeis, where Rae is going to college. Thanks, Richard Dalton.
Check out Marjorie Wolfe's Yiddish for Martha Stewart Jurors, which I am proud to host.
The Dan Grobstein File:
From the International Herald Tribune: The Super Bowl of hypocrisy, by Frank Rich:
By baring a single breast in a slam-dunk publicity stunt of two seconds' duration, this singer also exposed just how many boobs there are in America. We owe her thanks for a genuine public service.
Dan Grobstein File:
New York Times
Congress should be the first to recognize and dismiss the president's budget as an arrant campaign pamphlet. It would leave profligate Republicans picking on the poor in a desperate attempt to stand for fiscal responsibility.
James Moore, an author and former Texas television reporter explores the murky circumstances surrounding President Bush's service in the National Guard in the late 60's and early 70's in a book that is soon to be published called "Bush's War for Re-election." This issue remains pertinent because it foreshadowed Mr. Bush's behavior as a politician and officeholder: the lack of engagement, the irresponsibility, and the casual and blatantly unfair exploitation of rank and privilege.
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