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 26, 2004

April 26, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 17

Table of Contents:

General News

  • A Pint's A Pound The World Around--Or Is It?
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 18 Cereals for Substance Abusers
  • Funny Arithmetic


  • None


  • Really speeding, The Dan Grobstein File

General News

A Pint's A Pound The World Around--Or Is It?

I learned this rhyme as a boy. Someone told me this week it isn't true. After extensive searching on the Internet, I've discovered it is or isn't true, in the US and Britain, and that a pint weights a pound and a quarter, either here or there or in both places.

I know a liter of water weighs a kilogram, so it always made sense to me that measurement and weight would be related in the English system as well. But does anything make sense in the English system? Isn't it time we went metric?

Political Notes

The Unofficial Paul Krugman Web Page.

Iraq's a mess; this secret government memo says so. Lots of people posting links to this one, and lots of people emailing me about it!

Which faction will run Kerry's campaign, asks Slate, the online magazine.

What did the Spanish Prime Minister say about his decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, maintain faith with his country's democracy and his fellow countrypeople, and maintain Spanish credibility? "More than anything, this decision reflects my desire to keep the promise I made to the Spanish people more than a year ago.'' and ``Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people.''


Bob Woodward caught Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard B. Myers red-handed arguably unlawfully delivering classified information to a foreign power and violating United States classification rules. This proves, once again, that none of them have any concept of how to establish, protect, promote or develop America's true national security. An excerpt of Woodward's book appeared in The Washington Post, April 18, 2004, p. A1 and A14: "Plan Of Attack/ Deciding on War; Behind Diplomatic Moves Military Plan Was Launched."

One reads therein that on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2003, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Myers met in Cheney's office with Saudia Arabian ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan. They revealed to him "TOP SECRET NOFORN" material (the battle plan for the U.S. invasion of Iraq). The NOFORN designation meant NO FOREIGN which means the information may not be seen by or disclosed to any foreign nation.

Woodward wrote that Colin Powell (who had severe doubts about the wisdom of invading Iraq) felt it would be disloyal to make his views public due to Powell's sense of loyalty to a certain politician and the military. Thus, Woodward also revealed that Powell failed to understand that he was a civilian who owed his allegiance to the people and Constitution of the United States, not "politician" or the military.


Maybe you saw the pictures, or heard the story...

"Pentagon officials said the photos, issued last week and posted on an Internet site, should not have been made public under a policy prohibiting media coverage of human remains. Some activists argue that the photos, released last week, underscore the war's human cost."
It is amazing the lies the "president" can get away with. Clearly he doesn't care a fig about the families, and is simply doing this to maintain support for the war.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Diebold on the hot seat, where it belongs: the "insecure by design" Diebold electronic voting machines, plus their improper, perhaps illegal, last minute installation of uncertified software before California's March primary election is finally coming home to roost. Diebold May Face Criminal Charges, Touch-Screen Voting Machines Criticized and Diebold knew of legal risks ("Attorneys warned firm that use of uncertified vote-counting software violated state law.") Bizarrely, or perhaps it just par for Diebold's course, their president apologized to California's voters by saying "We were caught. We apologize for that." We will assume he did not mean that the next time they try to rig an election they will be more careful not to get caught.

Microsoft machinations: they settled another lawsuit in Minnesota while Legal costs hit Microsoft profits. The EU issues a stinging report: Microsoft Ruling Cites 'Pattern of Conduct'. And as mentioned here recently Microsoft apparently facilitated funding of SCO by BayStar Capital, which now has cold feet: Investor's Pullout Stirs Doubts About SCO Group.

First GPL enforcement: the GNU General Public License is the copyright device that underpins much of Linux and other open source software. It says you can use the software for free, but you must release your changes and improvements under the same license. For the first time a court granted an injunction to stop distribution of a commercial product because of a GPL violation. (See netfilter's press release.) Although the principle was upheld and the precedent set, it looks like the situation will be cleared up quickly.

Gmail, continued: this meme has passed through euphoria to fear and loathing, and finally to thoughtful commentary: The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus by Tim O'Reilly and The Gmail Saga by Brad Templeton. Also re Google: Google's chastity belt too tight, see these demos and examples.

Alan Kay wins ACM's Turing Award: one of the inventors (at PARC) of the first modern personal computer (for which he recently won the Draper Prize), the inventor of object oriented programming, Smalltalk, Squeak and arguably the wireless laptop computer, who once famously said "The best way to predict the future is to invent it" has been recognized with computing's top prize: Smalltalk Creator Wins 'Nobel Prize' of Computing (see also at Slashdot).

Using modern graphics tools on old astronomical images: I ran into two unrelated instances of this last week: as Kevin Sullivan mention in PSACOT: Reanimating the 1882 Transit of Venus and Venus Revisited: Modern Technology Sharpens Images from Soviet Missions.

Technobits: Confessions of a copyright warrior --- Patent Busting --- Restrictions and Price Remain iTunes Turnoffs --- hybrids are hot (reports this smug hybrid owner) --- this is so cyberpunk --- cosmic booms: When Meteors Explode and Comet destroyed in stellar crash --- "Can you pick up some more post-its, we're running low".


The Top 18 Cereals for Substance Abusers

Back on top! OK, back on the bottom. OK, back in a tie for the bottom. Just think of the contributors who didn't make the list at all...

April 21, 2004

18> Weedies

17> Coke Puffs

16> Sugar Smack

15> Special H

14> Life Sentence

13> Freebasin' Bran

12> Count Crackula

11> CrankenBerry

10> Toot 'n' Fibre

9> Turning Trix

8> Chex Into Rehab

7> Primo Wheat

6> Honey Bunches of Dope

5> Cap'n Crack With Marion Barrys

4> Muesl-X

3> Sugar Crystal Methampheti-Flakes

2> Froot 'Ludes

and's Number 1 Cereal for Substance Abusers...

1> Oakland Crack Bran

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 122 submissions from 41 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Michael Sheinbaum, Exton, PA -- 1 (15th #1)
Peter Bauer, Rochester, NY -- 16 (Hall of Famer)
Curt Cutting, Santa Monica, CA -- 16
Joseph Prisco, Ithaca, NY -- 16
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 16

Funny Arithmetic

Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
Smart boss + smart employee = profit
Smart boss + dumb employee = production
Dumb boss + smart employee = promotion
Dumb boss + dumb employee = overtime
A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need.
A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.
A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
A successful woman is one who can find such a man.
To be happy with a man, you must understand him a lot and love him a little.
To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
Married men live longer than single men do, but married men are a lot more willing to die.
A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.
A woman has the last word in any argument.
Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.
HOW TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BUGGING YOU ABOUT GETTING MARRIED: Old aunts used to come up to me at weddings, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, "You're next." They stopped after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.




Really speeding, The Dan Grobstein File

In the category of News of the Weird, Daniel Dern found this:

A Belgian motorist received a speeding ticket for traveling in his Mini at three times the speed of sound. The ticket claimed the man had been caught driving at 3379 kph (2,100 mph) - or Mach 3 speed - in a Brussels suburb according to Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure.

The police claim that human error was to blame for sending out the ticket and have since apologized to the man and promised to fix the radar.

Dan Grobstein File:

Paul Bremer has an interesting history, according to The Chicago Reader via

You can buy $10 or $20 gift certificates for hospitalized members of the Armed Services. finds the CPA stealing HTML code from the Brookings Institution. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but as the blogger says, why couldn't they steal some ideas as well?

From the New York Observer: Privatization in Iraq: "Contractors" With Guns.

From the British newspaper the Guardian: Their beliefs are bonkers, but they are at the heart of power; US Christian fundamentalists are driving Bush's Middle East policy.

From the New York Times: Heinz Co. is Campaign Weapon for Bush. Maybe the execs will stop giving all that money to the GOP. (hah). Also, Paul Krugman doesn't just call Bush an idiot, he explains why Bush is an idiot.

From the Washington Post: Pentagon Deleted Rumsfeld Comment. Rummie cleans up the transcript of his interview with Woodward, "accidentally" deleting a damaging statement. Also: engineers don't write their own Op Ed articles? Shocking!

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