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

November 8, 2004: P.S. A Column On Things

November 8, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 44

Table of Contents:

General News

  • I've Got Rhythm Redux
  • Marlow in the Netherlands
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 14 Differences If the President Were an Animal
  • The Top 15 Shots Fired During the Presidential Race
  • The Top 12 Election-Related Headlines


  • The Incredibles: Guest +
  • Alfie
  • Guest Review: Ray
  • Guest Review: Motorcycle Diaries Redux


  • Sullivan on Canada, Wolfe on Yiddish, Rolling Stone on The Incredibles, Dan Grobstein File

General News

I've Got Rhythm Redux

Last week, I offered several possible explanations for the fact that my heart has gotten back its rhythm. I got another from an old friend:

Or is it all the prayers that have been sent forth for you by people who love you and want to see the healthy harmonious truth of you revealed?

Give some credence to the Unseen, old friend, for as physics advances, you will realize how much of it was only unseen because our sight and understanding was so bad.

I have to say that this woman had an aura of calm, compassion and love in the 70s. I always associate those characteristics with the 60s and 70s. Or did before I learned that most of the Summer Of Love and its associated personnel were either bitter, cynical, angry or just overdosed on sex. Whenever I wonder if the whole thing was a dream, I think of her and realize that, for some at least, it was a real paradigm shift--one that is worth emulating.

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:

I'm pretty depressed about the whole thing. I'm glad I had already decided to leave, because if I hadn't I probably would now, and what's for sure is, I'm probably not coming back anytime soon. Every Californian I've talked to has spoken of secession, and I believe that might be the wisest, sanest course of action. There's also a map circulating with the West Coast as part of a United States of Canada set apart from Jesusland, or the red states and the east coast. That looks right to me. Let the East Coast have the Midwest and the South.

The thing that was holding me back about California going our own way would be that we'd have to do it under an Austrian, but if we join up with Canada I think that adds just the right amount of insult to injury. Think of the healthcare, hockey, and quaint signs in French! Plus we could finally get on the metric system.

Otherwise I just find it hard to think about. Four more years. Who are these people? I know exactly no one who voted for Bush. Even the Republicans I know swear they did not vote for Bush, at least not this year. That is kind of scary. That is a divided America. And all this stuff about moral issues and a new mandate make my stomach queasy. Europeans look at us like we are maybe a little mentally slower than they originally suspected. I am worried for the future of the Supreme Court. I am worried about Iraq and Afghanistan. I am worried about Iran and North Korea. I'd like to hear something reassuring about the Middle East Peace Process from someone other than Tony Blair. I'd like to see Bush rock the same pink shirt, silver tie combination that Blair recently sported. I've been watching a lot of CNN International, even though it is basically on a loop, because I am still having trouble absorbing everything. The dollar is weaker than ever. On the upside, I'm hoping to see many of my friends coming to Europe and Asia in the next four years.

Political Notes

For the Dutch take on the American election, see this commentary by Onno Visser, a Dutch graduate student friend of Marlow's. Note, please that he is writing in his second language, and turned in a manuscript that had fewer errors in it than those produced by my fellow MIT graduates. My favorite part comes near the end:

Bush is going to make the gap between rich and poor even larger, ruin the economy for generations to come, install judges in the Supreme Court who, in our opinion would best belong in a medieval setting, and he will do it with a smile.


Mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers now run this country. As my mother used to say, the masses are asses. Kiss the Bill of Rights goodbye, and say hello to the draft Bush lied about not reinstating. Mark my words. Kiss Roe V. Wade goodbye. Kiss Karl Rove hello, as he'll be running the country for four more years. Marlow, you were right--you can't represent the foreign policy of this country under the incoming administration. Stay in Europe, where they're sane!


And now, this ray of hope, sent by a friend.

I am sitting, as you probably are, trying to figure out why the majority of the voters in this country prefer an administration that is dishonest, manipulative, and self-righteous. A good friend sent me this quote today that helped me a lot.

Thought based on the Talmud:

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."


And now, this ray of darkness, noted by Kevin Sullivan from the San Francisco Chronicle: Joan Ryan's post-election commentary, We Hardly Recognize Each Other.

One point about the election that sticks out for me is that the country is divided by ideologies, not by geography. It happens that there are more people of one ideology than the other in particular locations. However, the ideology that supported Bush/Cheney exists throughout the country and is in the majority across the country as a whole. Troublesome, but true


Want to see something spooky? Check out a map of free and slave states from before the Civil War and compare it to the 2004 electoral college map. Surprising? I think not. Funny, but in a different was is the world electoral college map. Like Bob Harris says, if you know who did it, let me know. UPDATE: it was done by




Wired: E-Vote Glitch Inflates Bush Total
Ohio is the state that put President Bush over the top on Tuesday. But now it appears that an e-voting glitch gave Bush nearly 4,000 extra votes in one Ohio county. There were problems elsewhere, too.


Why was George Bush so concerned about the legitimacy of his claim to a victory? He sent Andy Card out Wednesday morning to make a strained claim to victory in Ohio and the nation rather than waiting for confirmation later that day or after the first canvass was completed on Thursday.

Was he concerned that if Kerry put lawyers in the precincts on Wednesday morning that they would discover what really happened? Why did Kerry concede so quickly rather than waiting for the conclusion of the first canvass and an accurate determination of the number of outstanding provisional and absentee ballots?

Why did Kerry rely for the analysis of the outstanding ballots on Mary Beth Cahill and Bob Shrum? They put him in this mess in the first place by counseling weak and extraordinarily costly (about 5-10 points in the polls) unresponsive passivity in the face of the knowingly false attack by the Swift Boat Veterans. Shrum walked away from the campaign with about $5 million for advice which turned a certified combat hero into a wimp who couldn't even defeat a certified deserter (CBS had the story, they went with the easy and wrong evidence).

WERE THE EXIT POLLS BAD, OR WERE THEY CORRECT AND THE RESULTS CORRUPT? That's always what I thought happened in Florida in 2000.


Socratic dialogue 101:

Q: On August 17, 2004, when the Swift Boat Veterans (Allegedly) For Truth campaign against John Kerry hit full stride, which long-time advisor to many Democratic Presidential nominees convinced Kerry (then leading in the electoral college 327-211 based on state polls) to stay silent in the face of the attack of falsehoods?

A: Robert ("Bob") Shrum with an assist from campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill who did not have a long record of advising Democratic Presidential nominees.

Q: On Aug. 31, 2004, when Kerry had finally responded to the attack of falsehoods, what was the electoral college projection?

A: 242-280 in favor of George Bush with Colorado and Iowa tied.

Q: Who are the only two Democratic Presidential nominees since 1976 who were not advised by Robert ("Bob") Shrum?

A: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Q: Do Carter and Clinton have anything else in common?


Ross Snyder notes: "Small comfort? Howard Dean to a constituent:"

Montana, one of the reddest states, has a new Democratic governor. First-time candidates for state legislatures from Hawaii to Connecticut beat incumbent Republicans. And a record number of us voted to change course -- more Americans voted against George Bush than any sitting president in history.

Today is not an ending. Regardless of the outcome yesterday, we have begun to revive our democracy. While we did not get the result we wanted in the presidential race, we laid the groundwork for a new generation of Democratic leaders.

Democracy for America trained thousands of organizers and brought new leadership into the political process. And down the ballot, in state after state, we elected Dean Dozen candidates who will be the rising stars of the Democratic Party in years ahead. Tens of millions of us are disappointed today because we put so much of ourselves into this election. We donated money, we talked to friends, we knocked on doors. We invested ourselves in the political process.

That process does not end today. These are not short-term investments. We will only create lasting change if that sense of obligation and responsibility becomes a permanent part of our lives. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." We will not be silent.

Thank you for everything you did for our cause in this election. But we are not stopping here.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

A post-election-ennui shortened Technobriefs this week:

Movie moguls just as dumb as music moguls: the MPAA decides to follow the same foolhardy strategy pioneered by the RIAA: alienate your potential customers by suing their pants off: Hollywood to sue internet file sharers. Speaking of dumb music moguls: Record Labels Said to Be Next on Spitzer List for Scrutiny.

Cassini-Huygens at Titan: great new imagery from the Solar System's second most likely place to harbor life: Probe data reveal Titan's etched face and As the Veil on Titan Is Lifted, 'What We See Is Very Alien'.

Technobits: MIT's LAMP and Regulatory Arbitrage --- critical GMail crack patched --- Xbox Owner Sues Over Defective Disk Drives --- Why Time Might Flow in One Direction --- Radical fabric is one atom thick --- Spider webs untangle evolution --- Ancient nuclear power controlled by water.


The Top 14 Differences If the President Were an Animal

When you're hot, you're no. 3. Political topic, sort of.

October 29, 2004

15> Out: Photo ops of president on jogging path. In: Photo ops of president on exercise wheel.

14> Tea in the Rose Garden replaced with grazing in the Alfalfa Patch.

13> His Secret Service code name: "Who's a Good Boy?"

12> Halting uncertainty during spontaneous unscripted discourse spun as yakking up a hairball.

11> President Polly's library refuses to display the "Cagebottom Papers."

10> Everything would be exactly the same, only 15 percent cuddlier.

9> "Four More Rears!"

8> Secret Service agents would be distinguished by their dark glasses, ear pieces and holstered pooper scoopers.

7> To avenge his father, President Rex declares war on speeding Ford Econoline vans.

6> Pup-Peroni-stained dress not so incriminating.

5> North Korean peace talks break down when Kim Jong Il pulls the old fake stick toss.

4> Find the weapons of mass destruction? Nope./Find the cheese in the maze? Every time!

3> By order of the Tabby Administration, the lower third of the Washington Monument is covered with carpet.

2> Big contributors would get to spend a night in the Lincoln Cage.

and's Number 1 Difference If the President Were an Animal...

1> Second-term scandal involves forfeiture of White House cleaning deposit.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]
Selected from 123 submissions from 45 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- 1, HM name (67th #1/HoF)
Glenn Marcus, Washington, DC -- 2
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 3

The Top 15 Shots Fired During the Presidential Race

Number 5! Political topic.

November 1, 2004

15> "A vote for Bush is a vote for at least four more years before a Bush twins Playboy pictorial."

14> "I understand why the senator is running for president. If I had his wife, I'd run, too."

13> "Say, have you seen the ads from the 'Alabama Guardsmen for Bush' group? Neither have I."

12> "Of course he's in favor of gay marriage -- for Ralph, it doubles his pool of potential mates."

11> "My opponent likes to compare himself to President Reagan, but actually, he's more like Hoover. Not the president -- the vacuum."

10> "Well *his* daughter couldn't get a lesbian lover with a six-pack of Coors and tickets to the WNBA finals."

9> "Do the math: Both tall, both skinny -- and Senator Kerry has never been seen in public with Osama bin Laden."

8> "Only someone who hates America could vote for a French- looking peace protester married to an African-American woman whose children were fathered by another man!"

7> "John is Theresa's *58th* variety, if you know what I mean."

6> "Do not be fooled by John Edwards' famous smile. One time, in Tennessee, he used it to grin down a bear."

5> "I can't say for certain if the bulge was a transmitter, but when we shook hands my fillings started playing Bachman-Turner Overdrive."

4> "Hola, Hispanic citizens. I warn you that if elected, Mr. Kerry's wife will require him to change the name of your biggest holiday to Cinco de Ketchup."

3> "How can we trust this man to defeat Osama bin Laden? He can't even take on Mr. Salty without getting knocked unconscious!"

2> "My flip-flopping opponent has assumed more positions in the last two weeks than Martha Stewart."

and's Number 1 Shot Fired During the Presidential Race...

1> "Nearly 400 tons of explosives are missing from an Iraqi ammunition dump that this administration failed to secure. We can't even trust our president to take a dump!"

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]

Selected from 91 submissions from 34 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Larry Hollister, Concord, CA -- 1 (61st #1/Hall of Famer)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 5

The Top 12 Election-Related Headlines

I keep getting close and missing. No. 3. I do well with political topics, I think.

November 4, 2004


Hmmm... I wonder what's in the news these days...

Surprise! It's the election!

12> Our Long National Nightmare Is Over: "Will & Grace" Now Banned in 11 States

11> Bill O'Reilly Holds Public Hearing in Pants

10> Ann Coulter Sprains Gloat Muscle

9> Doctors Alarmed as Kerry's Face Droops More Than Usual

8> W to Bush Sr.: "In Your Face, Old Man!"

7> Mary Cheney Marries Her Lesbian Partner in Massachusetts

6> Bush: Victory "Supercauliflatulistic!"

5> Democrats Lose Bid to Control White House, Congress, Bladders

4> Newspapers Across Country Suddenly 35% Thinner

3> Bush Restrung for Second Term

2> States Now Look to Ban Same-Sex Massages

and's Number 1 Election-Related Headline...

1> Bush Reaches Out to Dems, Extends Middle Finger


[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2004 by Chris White ]


Selected from 81 submissions from 31 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:


Tom Stoudt, Fort Washington, PA -- 1, 9 (20th #1)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 3


The Incredibles: Guest +

Pixar's The Incredibles captures the mind-blowing creativity and sly humor of the team behind Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Finding Nemo, then takes it up a notch by adding incredible action sequences. Once again, the storyline works for children and adults alike, as we follow the return from forced retirement (too many lawsuits) of a family of superheroes. The animation is, of course, inventive and spectacular. Established actors like Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, and "Cheers' John Ratzenberger are among those lending their voice to a character. Small roles, like costume ("no capes!") maker Edna "E" Mode (modeled on the legendary Edith Head and voiced by director Brad Bird), add lovely off-beat notes to the film. Though, in a shift, I am not pushing it as the year's Best Picture, The Incredibles is a delightful must-see for the whole family.

--Neal Vitale

Two other quick notes. They used to say water was the hardest thing to animate. From both the short subject they played before The Incredibles and from the movie itself, it is clear they have mastered this skill. Secondly, Brad Bird says the Incredibles were not based on the Fantastic Four because he didn't read those comics when he was young. Well, Brad, maybe you didn't read them, but someone on your team did, because you got Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm down to a "t." In any case, mind-bogglingly good. I am going back to see it again.


What's it all about? It's about two hours with a callow, shallow young man, who craps on every relationship he has and reaps the whirlwind at the end. Makes me wish I'd seen the original with Michael Caine from the 60s. The haunting theme is played briefly under the opening credits, then disappears. You keep thinking Alfie is going to go back to one of these women and make a fresh start; instead, he really gets what he deserves. How unHollywood is that? Mildly entertaining fare for adults.

Guest Review: Ray

This biopic by Taylor Hackford (An Officer And A Gentleman, La Bamba, When We Were Kings) is an overly long, tedious portrait of Ray Charles' early life and career. Beyond exploration of his guilt and feelings of responsibility for the childhood death of a younger brother, there is precious little insight conveyed into Charles, whether it be his musical development, his drug abuse, his constant womanizing, or his civil rights efforts. The redeeming elements of Ray are two. Jamie Foxx (Collateral, Ali, Any Given Sunday) is spectacular as Charles, slipping neatly into his skin in an Oscar commanding performance. The soundtrack is, not surprisingly, brilliant, featuring Charles' own performances, ranging from the early barrelhouse rock 'n' roll of "Mess Around," through his gospel/soul fusion in "Night Time Is The Right Time" and "What'd I Say," to later experiments in country like "Georgia On My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You." It's a far better CD to remember Ray Charles with than the insipid posthumous release "Genius Loves Company."

--Neal Vitale

Guest Review: The Motorcycle Diaries Redux

I generally agree with Paul's review of a few weeks back. Walter Salles' story of the youthful trek across South America by Ernesto "Che" Guevara de la Serna and Alberto Granado is very softy paced, and does feel too long and slow as a result. There is not much offered to help us appreciate Guevara's nascent politicization. But I enjoyed the "buddy" aspect of this film, and the two lead actors - Gael Garcia Bernal (Y Tu Mama Tambien) and Rodrigo de la Serna - are extremely appealing and engaging. The interaction of Guevara and Granado is very authentic and believable, and watching the way their mix of charm, bravado, and guile carries them from Buenos Aires to the Peruvian Amazon is gratifying.

--Neal Vitale


Sullivan on Canada, Wolfe on Yiddish, Rolling Stone on The Incredibles, Dan Grobstein File

This from Kevin Sullivan:

For those who think that life in these United States might become intolerable in the next four years, a charitable movement in Canada has an outreach program for you, at least for those of you who are single.

Marjorie Wolfe: Yiddish words that start with "F."

Thank you Daniel Dern for a link to the International Association of Fake Universities. Also: Just heard on NPR, in an early campaign retrospective:

"Usually when Democrats [begin taking shots],
they start by forming a circle."

Rolling Stone loved the upcoming movie The Incredibles.

Dan Grobstein File

  • The Guardian offered an election quiz.
  • The Times of London notes that prudery trumps security. [Ed. note: if it keeps my plane from being bombed, I don't give a damn who gets to see my John Thomas]

New York Times (I don't say it often enough; I love Dan's eclectic tastes, as they mirror my own, if I had the time to surf)

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