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

October 18, 2004: P.S. A Column On Things

October 18, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 41

Table of Contents:

General News

  • I've Got Nothing To Say
  • Marlow in the Netherlands
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 14 Signs You're Drinking a Caffeinated Beer



  • Dalton and Grobstein

General News

I've Got Nothing To Say

But it's ok... I gave extra credit to students who watched a presidential or vice presidential debate this week... A few hours ago, I started scrubbing Rae's Vaio PC (ruined by an install of Windows XP Professional SP2) down to the bare metal; step 1, of course, was to save all her data. Man, does Windows spread its data out in a haphazard fashion, gaily mixing it in with program files. Pheh. ... Walter Winchell invented the three-dot column, but Herb Caen did it longer and perfected it... Rae spent the weekend in Davis, Vicki spent Saturday in LA, I spent the day in my pajamas... How I got in my pajamas--oh wait, the joke doesn't work that way... I got an apostile certification of Marlow's birth certificate for her--don't ask...Teaching half-time is agreeing with me... The new custom shirt Vicki bought me for my birthday just arrived at Ling's in Walnut Creek--the man is a genius. Fits like a glove, looks like a million, has French cuffs and no pocket... No pocket for the same reason we don't have chips or cookies in the house--otherwise I'd eat/use the contraband... Did you catch the Beatles reference between the headline and the first item? ... Just finished editing up the half-hour version of Rae at 5, 10, 15 and 20, inspired by the British teledocumentary "28-up," which is now up to 42-up. We taped the girls every five years answering the same questions. It makes for compelling television. That's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Marlow in The Netherlands

Marlow is in The Netherlands right now, at Leiden University, working on her degree in International Relations. Here's what's new from her:

No news is good news, they say. Marlow just sent me a 10-minute documentary showing her environs. We're all enjoying it around here.

Political Notes

As we slowly approach Armageddon...

Was Bush wired during the debates? Heck, yeah. He's even wired when driving around the ranch in Crawford, judging from a picture on the White House web site.



Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: How refreshing to see some perspective in a story filed 90 minutes after the debate. From the LA Times:

Kerry charged that Bush had shifted his focus from capturing Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader, to conducting the war in Iraq, and said: "Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, 'Where's Osama bin Laden?' He said, 'I don't know. I don't really think much about him very much. I'm not that concerned.'"

The president responded: "I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations."

But during a news conference at the White House on March 13, 2002, Bush had said: "I truly am not that concerned about him."

Is the president lying, or is he just too dumb to remember what he said? Prior to the first debate, the name Osama Bin Laden almost never passed Bush's lips (including in foreign policy speeches)--ever since it became obvious we weren't going to catch him dead or alive (at least not until a few days before the election). Number of times Bin Laden was mentioned at the GOP convention: one. Number of times Bush mentioned Osama bin Laden in his three State of the Union addresses: 0.


Further thoughts on last week's analysis of the coalition:

  1. For the invasion of Iraq not one of Iraq's neighbors (Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran) was concerned enough about the alleged threat to join the coalition.
  2. To repel the invasion of Kuwait, the following nearby countries joined the coalition: Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and UAE
  3. For the invasion of Iraq, there are no mainly Moslem countries in the Middle East in the alleged coalition (Macedonia is not in the Middle East). As a matter of fact, there do not appear to be any Middle Eastern or African countries (the two continents which have seen a number of Al Qaeda attacks) in the coalition.


Tell everyone you know, if asked, that Kerry is correct. There already is static about Kerry's very reasonable comment (Kerry's Undeclared War in The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 10, 2004, by Matt Bai) that he hopes to deal effectively with terrorists so they become no more than a nuisance rather than a central focus of America's and Americans' concerns. That should be everyone's goal. But of course, Bush doesn't think so, and he never makes a mistake. Over at Slate please see: Nuisance Nuance: Bush was for reducing terrorism to a nuisance before he was against it.

Another way to look at it:

One could conclude from these quotes that Bush has advocated allowing at least two people (Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt and Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal) who are naive, dangerous, and do not understand the threat to lead U.S. forces (many of whom have been killed or maimed) into battle. Further, with his advocacy of sending people who do not understand the threat to protect the entire U.S. all of us are placed at risk, Bush is not serious about either defeating the threat or protecting the U.S., and he has little, if any, prospect of success.


Kevin Sullivan checks in:

On a political note, the local NPR radio station happened to play a clip from the Clinton - Bush debates of 1992. Totally aside from the point they were making, I noticed that the argument Bush Sr. was pushing was that you couldn't "trust" Bill Clinton, because he "flip-flopped" on issues.

It was startling hearing exactly the same arguments that are currently being made by Bush the Younger against Kerry. It was just too much of a coincidence! I think there is more of a story here around how much Bush the Younger is just the front man for the same crowd that was around 12 years ago.


Katherine Harris is actually not all that popular in her district. Her opponent is Jan Schneider. Here's a message from the Jan Schneider campaign:

Katherine Harris is at it again. It wasn't bad enough that she helped the Republicans "steal" the 2000 presidential election, or that she purged Florida's voter files while simultaneously serving as the Bush/Cheney state co-chair. Now she is voting lock step for George Bush's failed policies and planning on running for the U.S. Senate in 2006. You can stop her right now - dead in her tracks. Thanks to your help, we are one of the closest U.S. races in the country. The DCCC just did a poll and the race is within 6 points. Most importantly, 48% of people said it was time for someone new in Congress, while only 46% said they wanted to re-elect Katherine Harris. What you do now will be the difference in this race. You have the power to stop Katherine Harris and send a message to Republicans all across this country - we aren't going to take it anymore, and it starts right here with the woman who stole the last presidential election. Our grassroots campaign needs your support now, so we can take on Harris and her $3 million special interest war chest. I need your help and together we can defeat the most powerful symbol of 2000 and take back the U.S. House so we can make our government work for the people, not the powerful.

Thank you, Jan Schneider.

I dream of a Schneider victory, along with Tom Morrison, running against TomDeLay down in Texas. Where's the outrage, America?

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Anti-terrorism or anti-journalism? two web servers for independent online news operation IndyMedia were "briefly detained" in a secretive multinational police operation. The servers were interrogated and released, but IndyMedia is left without any concrete explanation . Speculation suggests the trigger for this incident was the alleged "outing" of two undercover Swiss police officers. Other coverage: Indymedia to U.S., U.K., Swiss and Italian Authorities: "Hands Off Our Websites" EFF Challenges Secret Government Order to Shut Down Media Websites Servers in UK Containing Indymedia Websites Seized by Government and Indymedia seizures: a trawl for Genoa G8 trial cover-up?.

E-vote weekly: after AG Bill Lockyer and Secretary of State Kevin Shelley announced California would sue Diebold for fraud, the maker of electronic voting systems cut their earnings forecasts which caused their stock to dip. Ah, the wisdom of the marketplace. As the EFF said "The company is learning the hard way that fixing a machine after you sell it is more expensive than doing it right the first time." Reuters notes that we are down to the wire and the kinks aren't worked out yet: Worries Persist Over U.S. Electronic Voting. See this roundtable discussion from SiliconValley.Com: E-voting: Can we count on it?

Indian tech: India Emerges as Innovation Hub. And no Monsanto, you can not patent the invention of Indian farmers: EPO revokes patent on Indian wheat

MyGoogle: new from the Googleplex, Google Desktop Search which alas, like the Toolbar, is for Windows only. From the NYT: Google Launches PC Hard - Drive Search Tool

Technobits: Supremes say no to RIAA --- math v. terror --- Games help street teens learn --- Smaller Can Be Better (Except When It's Not) --- Mitsubishi Wearable Display --- Qrio skates!


The Top 14 Signs You're Drinking a Caffeinated Beer

October 13, 2004


Brewer Anheuser-Busch says it will introduce a caffeinated, sweet-flavored beer for twentysomething club goers to compete with the flavored rums and vodkas gaining ground on the dance floor. The new beer will be called B(E) -- read as "B to the E power."

14> After a few bottles, Mrs. Olsen is starting to look pretty good to you.

13> Someone secretly switches your regular beer with new Budweiser Crystals.

12> You still have to pee every 20 minutes, but now you tap your foot because you just can't seem to pee fast enough.

11> When your friends ask if you want to sober up with a cup of coffee before you hit the road, you just laugh maniacally.

10> You sing along with the Chipmunks at the Christmas Party -- in their key.

9> Can text message 25 booty calls in under three minutes.

8> After the homecoming kegger, you translate your physics book into German, build a stereo from scratch and tuck-point the Student Union.

7> You pee your pants *before* talking to a pretty girl.

6> It has the same lack of taste as Zima but the freakish yellow glow of Mountain Dew.

5> You stride briskly and purposefully toward the toilet to puke your guts out.

4> You never even get any sleep before realizing you need to chew off your arm and escape.

3> Mormons look at you with twice the standard level of disgust.

2> The bartender leaves room for cream.

and's Number 1 Sign You're Drinking a Caffeinated Beer...

1> You're dancing drunkenly on the table as usual, except this time you and three other guys are doing a passable rendition of "Riverdance."

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 97 submissions from 37 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 10



Team America

Puerile. Stupid. Pointless. So close to an NC-17 that it probably still deserves one. Foul-mouthed. Cheaply made. Too much sex, vomit and blood-in a movie acted out by puppets! These are all things that mainstream critics have (rightly) said about Team America. The thing is, despite all this, it's still funny. You can't help but hear Mr. Garrison and Cartman in the voices of characters in this film. It's not a movie, it's sketch comedy, and most of the sketches are funny.

Final Cut

Is Robin Williams under some sort of contractual obligation to periodically take up dark, depressing roles? Wasn't he just in One Hour Photo? I will never deny that the man has acting chops--if for no other reason that he lives about 25 miles from here and could drive over and hit me. Seriously, he's a fine actor, and does a great job in this thrill-free science fiction thriller. But if you're a good dramatic actor and the world's greatest comedic actor, which should you spend your time doing? I notice Bill Murray is getting back on track with his next movie, and I hope Robin Williams will do the same.

The premise of the film is that a commercial firm has developed a "Zoe chip" which records every sight and sound you see and hear for your whole life. For a person in their 50s, this is something like 500,000 hours. With the help of the families, cutters reduce these scenes to an hour-long "rememory" which is played for the family and friends. Williams is the cutter you send the bastards too, because he can scrub them clean (he's a sin-eater--just see the movie to find out what that is, if you don't know). There's an action movie plot involving a retired cutter who has turned against the Zoe chip technology, and Mia Sorvino is tragically wasted in a role that amounts to little more than an extended cameo. I like Mia. I want to see more of her--even if she did go to Harvard. Since Oscar loves Drama, look for Robin on the red carpet come spring.

I Y Huckabees

If you ever go to the movies, you have no doubt seen the ultra-bizarre previews for this ultra-bizarre movie. Jason Schwartzman plays a young environment activist who wants the coincidences in his life investigated. Enter Lily Tomlin (boy am I glad to see her on the big screen again) and Dustin Hoffman as a husband and wife team of existential detectives, whose job it is to figure out the meaning of your life. Hoffman's explanation of the universe, which involves only his hand and a blanket, is worth the price of admission by itself. Who knew Jude Law could be funny? He plays Schwartzman's nemesis, a corporate type named Brad. If my name were Brad, I'd sue for slander. Mark Wahlberg has a funny role as Schwartzman's guide. Isabelle Huppert is the nemesis of Tomlin and Hoffman. A great cast, and David "Three Kings, Spanking the Monkey" Russell did a first rate job of directing and writing (with Jeff Baena's help). This film won't do 50 cents worth of business, which is too bad, because it's good and there are several Oscar-worthy performances in it.


Dalton and Grobstein

Richard Dalton reports:

I was taken aback by the news that there are just over 500,000 mobile
phones in Uzbekistan, according to Primetrica Inc., a collector of such
arcane data.

Me too, Richard, although I had heard that many countries that never really got their landline infrastructure together were now leapfrogging that stage of development with cellphones.

Dan Grobstein File:

Dan's in Japan and only shipped me one link this week:

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