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: April 12, 2004

April 12, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 15

Table of Contents:

General News

  • A Week of Rae
  • Cardioversion
  • Edwin Diamond and Rachel Carson
  • Stories of Teaching
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • None


  • Home On The Range


  • Brandeis News, Marjorie Wolfe Column, Dan Grobstein File

General News

A Week of Rae

Yes, of course she was busy, doing homework and seeing friends and running errands. Still, the time I got with Rae was precious, and I wouldn't trade a second of it away for almost anything I can think of. She was home for a week from Brandeis, full of fun and laughter and bubbly energy. You do a good job of raising your children, you catch a little luck, and the next thing you know you have wonderful adults coming to visit!

As mentioned below by Craig Reynolds, one of Rae's Brandeis classmates is trying to spread a meme across the Internet.

And just like that, Easter Sunday she climbed on a plane and was gone again.


I'm going under general anesthesia next Wednesday so they can get my heart back in rhythm (I have atrial fibrilation). According to my research, I'm at more risk from the anesthesia (sort of a Mama Cass way of dying--fasting first will be a good idea) than I am from cardioversion (a form of fibrillation--tiny risk: stroke). Of course, my odds of being hit by a bus or kidnapped by a terrorist are greater than those of a problem during this procedure.

You have a cardioversion story? Share it. Let me know if it is OK to print it here.

My biggest worry: I am missing a day of school. Gotta get a sub. She'll show them a movie.

Edwin Diamond and Rachel Carson

Here's something I didn't know about my mentor Edwin Diamond... I got this in the email last week:

I came across an obscure reference to your mentor, Edwin Diamond, while researching a topic for my newspaper column. According to J. Gordon Edwards (San Jose State U.), Diamond was the original co-author of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Edwards contends that Diamond withdrew from his relationship with Carson and then criticized the book as "an emotional alarmist book seeking to cause Americans to mistakenly believe their world was being poisoned." Any clue whether any part of this is true?

I had to tell the guy I'd never heard a word of it from Edwin in the 25 years I knew him. Found two web sites that repeat the story, including a citation of a review of Silent Spring by Edwin ("The Myth of the "Pesticide Menace") in the Saturday Evening Post, Sept. 28, 1963:

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, and the Environmental Movement, from Caula A. Beyl, History of the Organic Movement, 1991.

Science, pesticides, and environmentalist politics
Executive Intelligence Review December 10, 1999, pp. 20-31
Dr. J. Gordon Edwards [Note: EIR is a publication of Lyndon LaRouche, and thus likely to be polemical itself]

Don't believe all you read well, except maybe this
Argument for DDT use has merit but needs more facts to support claim
David Sikes, outdoors columnist, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Stories of Teaching

From my friend and classmate Kevin Sullivan

Teaching is a tough job where the rewards come from directions that are difficult to anticipate. I have one particular recollection on how emotionally draining public school teaching is. Having accomplished what I wanted in teaching I left the field after five years in the classroom. My transition job was being a teacher in a cad/cam computer company. The new job had its own challenge in that it meant learning a new field of study quickly, creating a curriculum, learning what these state of the art computers could do, figuring out how they were applied in industry solutions, and actually teaching a series of five day classes to computer programmers from customer companies.

I had been working non-stop and under intense pressure for several months when my manager came to me and told me I had to schedule my two weeks vacation. On initially taking the job, I had thought two weeks was a sorry step-down from my previous school calendar. My reply to the manager was, "Vacation? Now? Why? I'm not tired!"

Political Notes

From the Washington Post: Declassified Memo Said Al Qaeda Was in U.S. also carries the text of the memo. In Newsday, a commentary that notes Bush's Pre 9/11 Doings are Coming To Light.

Meanwhile, the Australians note, US soldiers in Iraq asked to pray for Bush.

How can you tell Dr. Condoleezza Rice is stretching the truth? When her lips move. You can hear her complete testimony at


On Thursday, April 8, 2004, Condoleezza Rice clearly established for the entire world the truth of the earlier statements by those familiar with her abilities (from attendance at her briefings and first-hand contact with her). They said she was far above her highest level of competence when she served at a junior level on the National Security Council staff of President Reagan. Readers of PSACOT (and later The New York Times) have been aware for years of George Bush's response (to a briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, that a terrorist attack on the U.S. in the near future was a distinct possibility). He continued on vacation until a week before Sept. 11, 2001. What was the title on the briefing that Ms. Rice alleged contained "no new threat information?" "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US." Did George Bush contact the FBI Director between Aug. 6, 2001, and September 11, 2001, asked Commissioner BenVeniste? Ms. Rice did not know.

It is a real shame that Commissioner Ben Veniste did not follow up by asking whether Ms. Rice herself contacted the FBI Director between Aug. 6, 2001, and Sept. 11, 2001. She might have inquired as to the status of the 70 FBI domestic terrorist investigations alleged in the Aug. 6, 2001 CIA briefing. The FBI's position is that no one asked them to do anything special in the summer of 2001.

Ms. Rice's excuse for her ignorance? The briefing did not contain any new information but was all historical. We find now what "historical" means as political pressure forced the release of a partial text of the briefing Bush and Cheney have been hiding for years. Ms. Rice's view was that unless she is asked to do something, there is nothing to do. How different things would have been had she heeded John Kennedy and merely asked not what her country could do for her but what she could do for her country.

For example, she could, 1. pick up the phone daily and ask the FBI Director what progress is being made on the investigations and/or 2. invite the FBI Director and the CIA Director in a for a daily chat about what information the CIA had that might be useful to the FBI terror investigations.

It is entirely likely the tragedy of the World Trade Center bombings could have been avoided. A few hours after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the FBI, having reviewed just the passenger lists for the hijacked planes, was able to report to Richard Clarke to the effect that: "It was Al Qaeda. The CIA forgot to tell us they were in the country."

Note that Ms. Rice met just about every weekday at 7:15 a.m. with the CIA Director when the DCI spoke with George W. Bush about current intelligence. All she had to do was tell the FBI Director to arrive at 8:00 a.m.

Given his devotion to a daily work-out during business hours, it is perhaps too much to expect that Bush would have decided that maybe he too should have a daily motivational talk with the FBI Director and the DCI. Would even an engraved invitation have led to any action by Ms. Rice or Mr. Bush? For example, "Your presence is cordially requested at the destruction of the World Trade Center North and South Towers, One and Two World Trade Center, New York, New York, on September 11, 2001, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.. Expect the impact of American Airlines Flight No. 11 and United Airlines Flight No. 75 which are to be hijacked shortly after take-off from Boston's Logan Airport. R.S.V.P. to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, D.C., which has graciously provided financing and personnel for this event."

Apparently, such an invitation would lack "actionable" intelligence. For example, there's no ZIP code in the address of the event so how could someone in Ms. Rice's position be expected to know precisely where the event was to occur? Also, no take-off time is specified for the flights and checking flight times with the airlines is not in Ms. Rice's job description. Further, there's no appropriate dress specified (e.g., "Black Tie Required" or Black Tie Optional" or "Business Attire") so the information could not possibly be true. One could not possibly expect a response even if the information were true because the responders might be inappropriately attired which could lead to a violation of Bush's dress code and concomitant decreased respect for the responders and the United States.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Falluja, Kos and the risks of blog-fame: this article at the BOP analyzes what happens when a blogger becomes famous enough to become the target of a full fledged attack by the political opposition. If you ever read blogs you've probably heard of Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, author of the Daily Kos, an influential and widely read blog (on the order of 100,000 readers per day, named Best War Blog by After the brutal murders and desecrations of four American contractors in Falluja last week, Kos lashed out against mercenaries (then later tempered his remarks). Blog rhetoric is often heated, but for the most part who cares? It is only slightly off the mark to observe that in the blogosphere everyone is too busy writing to read anyone else. The vast majority of blogs have readerships in the single digits. But like other power law distributions (see also) some blogs have extraordinary visibility. This story is about how top bloggers move from obscurity to Political Enemy #1 as they ascend into the upper reaches of the blogosphere.

eVote: remember all the talk about the dangers of "black box" voting machines which cannot be independently audited, and how the obvious solution is to provide a printed paper trail? One aspect of the debate is that Diebold, a leading manufactuer of eVoting machines, argued both that paper trails were unneeded and that providing them would unnecessarily add to the cost of the machines. In Prints of Darkness, Robert X. Cringely recounts the observation of poll worker Jed Rothwell: surprise, Diebold machines already have a printer inside them! VoteHere, the anti-Diebold: some voting machine companies seek to hide their source code from public view but VoteHere take the opposite approach, the open source approach to security: Firm invites experts to punch holes in ballot software, E-Voting Revealed</A and See-Through Voting Software.

Apple and the geeks: on the one hand, Apple's Mac OS X is increasingly seen as the smart platform by the uber-geeks who formerly made Unix and Linux the industry-leading workhorses they are today. While most hackers agree that "information wants to be free", other tribes of geeks (technically: crackers) aim to make it so. The Apple iTunes Music Store uses a DRM system called FairPlay to control the use of its music files. Crackers promptly produced a tool called PlayFair (from Google cache). Then Apple promptly sent a cease and desist letter to SourceForge which hosts PlayFair and a gazillion other open source projects. The Slashdot crowd has been following this closely: New Tool Cracks Apple's FairPlay DRM, PlayFair Pulled Due to DMCA Request. Finally, Apple's OS X has gotten some unwanted attention from the malware community: Intego, an anti-virus company announced that it had introduce protection against MP3Concept, the first Mac OS X Trojan Horse which exploits a fairly simplistic desktop vulnerability. See Apple's limp response and coverage by Wired.

Technobits: as mentioned here last week, more speculation on GooOS, the Google Operating System (which cites Secret Source of Google's Power) --- customized Reason cover --- How to catch a scam-spammer, follow up --- Dodgy Patents Rile Tech Industry --- mainframes: IBM's 'dinosaur' turns 40 --- OpenGL Advances with the Times --- Government Licenses First Private Rocket --- insect bioweapons --- The Memespread Project: Spread this Meme! --- Riding on Square Wheels.




Home On The Range

Wow, what a disappointment. The rumor is rife this is the last "2D" animated feature from Disney (and possibly from any American movie studio). It's been a long trail since Snow White, and a shame the genre dies out with a whimper, not a bang. Animation has been buried before, as recently as the mid-1980s, but this time it appears to have been placed in a coffin, shot in a head and strangled, and 2D (that is, ink and pen as opposed to computer) animation is no Rasputin.

Rae, who went with me to the film, summed it up best, "I don't care about any of these characters." So we spent our time trying to figure out who the voices were, other than the obvious Roseanne. In the cases of Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilly, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Randy Quaid, we came close but couldn't quite put our fingers on them. On the other hand, Steve Buscemi, in a minor character role, was instantly identifiable. You know you're in trouble when you devote large swatches of your time trying to figure out "whose voice is that."

As one comment on IMDB puts it, "it isn't the style of animation, it's the quality of the story." Amen brother, and the quality of the story just isn't here, here.


Brandeis News, Marjorie Wolfe Column, Dan Grobstein File

News of Brandeis from the Boston Globe site,

Breaking barriers
Date: 4/11/2004

"Lester Lopez, a Brandeis University mailroom worker, starts his lunch break by sliding his English homework across the cafeteria booth to Brandeis sophomore Lindsey Abramowitz. It's a handful of worksheets filled with questions on punctuation and parts of speech."

Don't miss Marjorie Wolfe's column, Vroom! Vroom! Yidden on Wheels. Jews on choppers; who knew?

Prostate Cancer Research, in the "too late for most of us" department.

Dan Grobstein File

  • Did you know that Dubya's ranch is called "Prairie Chapel Ranch." Dan didn't.
  • An image called War President (search down for April 04) from a blog called American Leftist is all over the Internet, with good reason.

New York Times:

No doubt the next challenge for science will be to fathom the mind of cats. Is it really true, as T.S. Eliot imagined, that cats in their most inscrutable reveries are deep into long division?

Washington Post

  • A great Richard Cohen column about accountability and the fact that no one ever resigns for being wrong in our government.
  • Blowing Richard Clarke's cover also blows the lid off the ubiquitous Washington backgrounder.

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