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: May 3, 2004

May 3, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 18

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Walking Pneumonia
  • Boston
  • Upcoming Concert
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • None


  • None


  • Davis: April in the Rockies, Wedding Dress Rant, Sullivan: Media Conglomeration, Reynolds, Dern, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Walking Pneumonia

Tuesday marks three weeks that I've had pneumonia, except that Sunday night, for the first time in those three weeks, I slept soundly, and I'm not coughing this morning, so maybe I am over it. I took antibiotics, even though, as the doctor put it, "this is probably futile, since there's a 50 percent chance this is viral, so all we're really doing is creating new, antibiotic-proof super bugs." She had me get a chest x-ray (negative) and a thyroid panel (no problems reported).

Well. As always, my welfare comes before society's. It's been a long three weeks, as I was apparently trying to hack up a lung. Maybe air travel, and the changing pressures it involves, are a good thing.


There are a number of people I know and love who live in the Boston area, some of them quite close to Weston and Waltham. And yet, once again, like a thief in the night, I stole into town and stole out again without a word of warning, or a moment of time spent with you. I plead guilty with extenuating circumstances.

Rae, my younger daughter, really, really enjoys visits from Vicki and me as she completes her first year at Brandeis. So, when I as invited to the 50th birthday party (golf course, band, sit-down dinner) of two of my best friends from college, I saw an opportunity. Flew all day Friday, flew much of Sunday, but it was worth it for the 48 hours on the ground, most of them with Rae, some of them with my best friend of 30 years standing.

It was so great to see my daughter that the fact that I felt like I had been beaten with a bag of rocks hardly mattered. I hate flying, more and more with the passing years. Eventually, I could end up like my dad, unwilling to do it. But probably not; certainly not of I wish to travel in my twilight years, which I think I do.

Upcoming Concert

As you may know I play Tenor Sax in the Contra Costa Wind Symphony. On June 4th, we are performing Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" in Walnut Creek. This will be a very exiting evening.

We expect to sell out. To guarantee your seats, you can reserve them now with the box office. 925-943-7469.

Since paintings inspired Mussorgsky to compose this work, we will show some that fit the music. Original paintings from the Martinez Arts Association will be projected on the Big Screen during the performance.

We are also playing "The Wind In The Willows" and "Bugs". I think you will enjoy them, too. The trombones are especially amphibious as they portray the sonorous Mr. Toad.

More for information, you can check out our web site

Hope you can join us. Again, please call the Regional Center Box Office TODAY for your reservation. 925-943-7469.

Political Notes

From Craig Reynolds:

This is fun:

Nightline says it wasn't being political when it ran all the names of the dead in Iraq.

If I had more time, I'd read more WorldWatch Institute stuff. Richard Dalton reads it, and passes this along:

More numbers from my friends at Worldwatch Institute. This time, dealing with the real weapons of mass destruction (www. Not only are the Bushies unable to find WMDs, they're looking in the wrong places!

Total weight of chemical weapons in Iraq before the 2003 war, as estimated by the American Federation of Scientists: 3,850 tons

Total weight of just six of the most dangerous pesticides at large in the global environment: 7,000,000 tons

People killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in the six-year period preceding the 2003 U.S. War on Iraq: 0

People killed by pesticides, as estimated by the World Health Organization, during the same six-year period: over 1,000,000

It's like asking how many people did booze and cigarettes kill last year versus how many people pot killed.

Last week's Democratic response to Bush's weekly radio address began like this:

Good morning. My name is Paul Rieckhoff. I am addressing you this morning as a US citizen and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served with the US Army in Iraq for 10 months, concluding in February, 2004.

Good choice!

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

MIT's The Tech versus MPAA's Jack Valenti: it wasn't quite "Jack you ignorant slut" but Keith J. Winstein's encounter with Jack Valenti was more of a debate than an interview. It is apparently rare for Mr. Valenti to come face to face with the engineers who are the most direct victims of little legislative gems like the anti-circumvention provision he managed to get inserted into the DMCA. I found the exchange priceless, and loved Winstein's arguments. Valenti was clearly caught off guard ("Un-fucking-believable") and in fairness, Linux media players is not his area of expertise. Loyal PSACOT/TB readers: please read this article! Beyond it (and the comments at Slashdot) I will add just one personal observation. At one point Valenti is marginalizing the viewpoint of technologists ("How many people in the United States build their own sets? ... Let's say there are a thousand.") and says we can't set public policy for such a small minority. My question is: how many people produce and distribute their own feature films? Why does Jack think it is OK to set public policy to benefit such a small minority of movie moguls at the expense of the Fair Use Rights of those 284 million citizens?

TCP Reset Spoofing: back on April 20th there were reports of a potentially catastrophic vulnerability in TCP, the protocol that underlies all Internet transmissions (for all platforms and all operating systems). The exploitable details were due to be publicly released on April 22nd. Yet there were conflicting reports that this was a old Known Issue. The 22nd came and went without the Internet tanking. What was up? Why the fuss? Turns out this was an extremely dangerous vulnerability, but it had quietly been fixed by a low-key world-wide marathon effort: Secret Repairs Preceded TCP Flaw Release and Industry races to protect internet from critical flaws.

Microsoft patents double click: this week Microsoft Corporation was granted a patent on the notion that different applications can be triggered depending on whether a button is depressed quickly, slowly, or multiple times. The geeks at Slashdot can't stop giggling and offering obvious prior art.

Technobits: looks like Diebold isn't the only lying scofflaw eVoting company --- pick your headline: Illicit Music Swapping on the Decline? or Music Downloads Continue to Climb --- its come this: WMP on Linux --- The Rise of Interface Elegance in Open Source Software --- nanotech cancer hunter-killer --- Interest Growing in 'Security' Blimps, see: Techsphere's AeroSphere and 21st Century Airships --- blog spooks --- Easy DRM Stripping for Windows iTunes --- new moon mineral --- next Mars rover Mars Science Laboratory --- father of the iPod? --- auto-extracting sports highlights --- cool online game (requires Flash): Floats.






Davis: April in the Rockies, Wedding Dress Rant, Sullivan: Media Conglomeration, Reynolds, Dern, Dan Grobstein File

A weather report from Don Davis, my old boss:

Outside my window it be snowing. The white stuff has been falling all night. Last day of April. Springtime in the Rockies.

Why not join the 13 million other people who have read the rant of a Seattle man selling a worn-once Size 12 Wedding Gown? I got three emails about it. A true meme!

I knew this, but Kevin Sullivan didn't, and he's a smart guy who lives in the Boston area, so here goes: the New York Times owns the Boston Globe (has for a while now) and also a piece of the Boston Red Sox.

Media Conglomeration Gone Wild
If you had any doubts about media consolidation, check out this remarkable site from the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR). Click on a conglomerate and see what media properties it owns. Disney gets its own timeline, but click on some of the less familiar names and learn why this site is so valuable. The site also has links to CJR articles on the topic of media concentration, but nothing captures the imagination like the list of Clear Channel stations across the US.

Craig Reynolds thinks you'd be interested to read Maureen Dowd: The Orwellian Olsens. He also ran across a list which swears these are real metaphors from British Tests. People who make this stuff up always swear it is true.

Daniel Dern notes: East Washington teen's sketches attract Secret Service scrutiny. Let's chill free expression!

Dan Grobstein File

From the Boston Globe: a first hand account of Kerry throwing his medals. I was there that day too, on the other side of the fence with the reporters, covering it for the MIT newspaper. David Tenenbaum took some cool pictures, as I recall.

From Time: Old Barriers to Fighting Terror. [Ed note: But limiting encryption exports is stupid and pointless]

Model 51 Ventriliquist's companion.

New York Times

I'm constantly amazed at how dubya compromises and still doesn't do anything. Can you imagine if this was Clinton? We're all wearing the blue dress.

Ya know, if Dubya ever read the newspaper, he would know about all the problems that the Israelis have had for years with bombings and might have a) thought his whole adventure through and/or b) made sure that the troops have enough armor (personal and vehicle).

Washington Post


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