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

August 30, 2004: P.S. A Column On Things

August 30 2004 Vol. 6, No. 34

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Back to School
  • My Daughters Travel
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 15 Reasons for Low Attendance at the 2004 Olympics


  • Some Kind Of Monster


  • Barrie Pic, Wolfe Column, Forbes on Guns, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Back to School

As I write this I've had three days as a half-time teacher of 8th grade U.S. history. That means a later start, and three classes with 78 students instead of six classes with 172 students. It is still too early to tell for sure whether my new schedule will improve my teaching experience. But I can already say that showing up at 10:45 am seems to beat the hell out of showing up at 7:15 am, except for the 50% pay cut (on top of the 60% pay cut I took when I went from journalism to education). Luckily, it isn't about the money. The cutback in hours was to improve my attitude towards my job and my students and to help with my health. So, that's how I will judge its success.

One friend of mine told another that she had "never in her life seen me trying so hard to rationalize a decision" as I was working to rationalize my decision to be a teacher. That's a tough critique, but a valid one. At this point, I have two years, thousands of dollars and a great deal of mental energy invested in becoming a teacher. If I can do it, like it, and maintain my health, I want to be a teacher.

Confounding things during this term is the on-line class I have to take--one of three credential courses which, if not completed by July will leave me with a state requirement for FIVE CLASSES! And the State of California wonders why it is having trouble recruiting and retaining teachers.

My Daughters Travel

The empty nest thing happens over and over. This time, Marlow took off for Leiden for two years to earn a masters degree in International Relations. She was here for 10 days between China and her departure. That's probably as long a visit as we're ever likely to have again from her. And we may well not see here here again until 2006.

Rae is returning to Brandeis for the fall term. She may or may not be back next summer, but is certain she won't duplicate this summer's three-month stay. She's thinking of entering a summer program of some sort, relevant to her interest in literature.

I love them. I'll miss them. They'll stay in touch, as will I. And life goes on, proving once again that the only constant is change.

Political Notes

Slate says: The "Christmas Eve" attack on Kerry is cheap and almost certainly wrong. There's a very funny George Bush Conspiracy Generator.

For Shame - A leaked video reveals what Bob Dole really thinks about Bush's tactics. Thank you, Craig Reynolds.


Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein (author of Primary Colors):

"The Swifties' ability to dominate the news with incendiary nonsense is, I believe, a direct result of Kerry's unwillingness to dominate the news with tart, controversial substance by challenging the president on Iraq."


Richard Dalton filed two reports this week, one funny and one serious:

Ben Cohen and his band of merry pranksters at True Majority is offering this gem...

"George W. Bush talks a lot, but the trouble is, much of what he says just isn’t true. TrueMajorityACTION’s "Pack of Lies" deck of playing cards reveals the truth about the President and his top advisors.

Each card features a lie from Bush & his gang—along with a short statement of the truth (with a credible citation). So you get a total of 52 whoppers from Bush, Condy, Cheney, and Rove. Rove is pictured on the aces and Bush is the king, of course."

...and you can have one for only three bucks!

On a more serious note:

The Compassionately Conservative government at work:

* The national poverty rate declined from 1993 to 2000, when it reached a low of 11.3 percent. In the next three years, 4.3 million more people fell below the poverty line (an additional 1.3 million Americans fell below the poverty line in 2003 alone). The median household income dropped by more than $1,500 in inflation-adjusted terms.

* The number of people without health insurance grew last year to 45 million, an increase to 15.6 percent of the population from the previous year's 15.2 percent.

Got the stomach to see more? There's a nifty 77-page report: "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2003.

Isn't it refreshing to read one blog in America that deals with the issues and not just the horse race?

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Music copyright abuse: RIAA files 896 new file-trading lawsuits, an AP story (spotlighted by Slashdot: RIAA Grinds Down Individuals in the Courtroom) quotes one presiding judge worrying that little folks are being chewed up by the music industry's lawyers. Wired on the Induce Act: Copyright Bill Needs Big Changes. Some schools are giving away licensed music to avoid suits against students: Twenty Schools Sign Up for Legal Song Downloads.

Active automotive suspension: the Bose folks, best known for audio equipment, have apparently been working for years on their Bose suspension system (see also Electromagnetic Suspension System) which does a surprisingly good jobs of removing bounce from typical spring and shock absorber systems. Watch the QuickTime movies listed on the Bose page under "Results Through Research".

Technobits: Suit by Cities Says Microsoft Overcharged --- personal multinationals: Outsource your job to earn more! --- Ultra-Fast Broadband in Sweden --- Holographic Versatile Disc --- gamers watch less TV --- UN drive to boost free software.


The Top 15 Reasons for Low Attendance at the 2004 Olympics

No. 4; am I getting better or everyone else getting worse?

August 26, 2004

15> Not enough hero worship; too much gyro worship.

14> Americans are absolutely terrified of traveling to Greece after that Nia Vardolos movie.

13> What? And miss a three-peat of "Will and Grace"?!?

12> WWE fans have been tricked into watching actual wrestling too many times to fall for THAT one again.

11> Them Greeks are practically French!

10> The al-Qaeda luxury boxes in each venue are making people nervous.

9> Half of the free world is mistakenly holed up at a Motel 6 in Athens, Georgia.

8> Greece? No thanks. If you've seen Travolta once, that's more than enough.

7> Too many people are afraid Svetlana bites.

6> Greeks citizens are afraid they might accidentally get drunk, sleep with their mother and put their own eyes out.

5> Wouldn't you need some sort of crazy time machine to travel seven hours ahead?

4> Heavy competition from annual dance festival on the nearby island of Lambada.

3> Athenians busy working phones in order to become a host city for "The Simple Life 3."

2> It's more convenient to masturbate to women's beach volleyball at home.


and's Number 1 Reason for Low Attendance at the 2004 Olympics...

1> Spectacular failure of the "Greece, You're Whole!" radio campaign.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 117 submissions from 44 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Larry Hollister, Concord, CA -- 1 (60th #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 4


Some Kind Of Monster

I think a documentary really works if it can make you be interested in a subject in which you had no previous interest. Although both of my daughters were Metallica fans, the band came after my time, and I'd never heard of any of them or their music. After two hours, I'll always be able to tell the difference between James, Lars and Kirk, and I'll never forget that Trujillo is the newcomer. The band does a lot of group dynamic and anger management work, on film, as well as a lot of writing and song recording. It exposes this "hidden world" of heavy metal music in a way that held my interest for its interminable two-hour length. This film (now in limited release) is a gold mine for fans, and a tolerable documentary for the disinterested. Rent it next year when it comes out on DVD.

For a rock critic's opinion of the value of the shrink work done by the band, see Anger Management Bad for Metallica in the Chicago Sun-Times. By the way, Towle, the shrink, did move to California and still sees the band now and then.


Barrie Pic, Wolfe Column, Forbes on Guns, Dan Grobstein File

Heads up: J.M. Barrie Biopic, Finding Neverland slated to bow on Oct. 22. Thank you Daniel Dern. Also from Mr. Dern: Civil Liberties gee-gaws: a fourth amendment tote bag and a guaranteed-to-set-off-metal-detectors version of the bill of rights, printed on mental.

Marjorie Wolfe's back to school column in Albert Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, and we've got it right here at PSACOT.

My friend and colleague Jim Forbes, an avid sportsman, object so my endorsement last week of Richard Dalton's call for renewal of the semi-automatic weapon ban:

>>But first--let's make sure that automatic weapons aren't made legally available again.<<

There are no plans to repeal the federal firearms Act that outlaws private ownership and sale of fully automatic weapons. The commercial versions of the Tec 9 and AK-Series are semiautomatic rifles and can not be converted legally or easily.

Furthermore, virtually ever center-fire sporting rifle in use or sold today started out as a military assault rifle. Case in point, bolt action rifles used for deer hunting. Most can trace their roots to the German Mauser design used in two world wars and by the US --which licensed the Mauser design and used it on the venerable 1903 A1 Springfield, and its follow-on --the 1917 infantry rifle.

Damn it, it's true, Guns don't kill people. People do!

Get it right or don't print it. It's a simple concept that you should have learned as a journalist a long time ago.

Absolutely true. People kill people. But as Upenn points out, they kill them with guns (especially handguns) a lot more often than knives and hands. I realize this bill is not about handguns. But the same page also notes that semi-automatic weapons are deadlier than handguns.

Frankly, I'd rather someone have to get close enough to me to try to kill me with a knife. At least that way, I'd have some slim chance of running away. No one I know can out-run a bullet. And although the plea I ran here clearly confused automatic and semi-automatic weapons, I wouldn't mind a law that might make it harder for someone shooting at me to shoot more quickly.

Dan Grobstein File:

The most difficult miles of Rosanna Powers' life are bringing her from Florida to the small Washington state farming community of Mansfield, Douglas County, for her brother's funeral tomorrow. Then she will fly back across the country to help bury her fiancé the next day.

Both were U.S. Marines killed last week - one day apart - in Iraq.

New York Times:

Let's hope that this latest campaign of garbage and lies -initially financed by a Texas Republican close to Karl Rove, and running an ad featuring an "independent" veteran who turns out to have served on a Bush campaign committee - leads to a backlash against Mr. Bush. If it doesn't, here's the message we'll be sending to Americans who serve their country: If you tell the truth, your courage and sacrifice count for nothing.

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