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

April 18, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

April 18, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 15

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Drifting Down The Stream of Time, RSS
  • Political Notes: Bush's Polls, Wright Vs. Delay

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • Educational Story
  • Wedding Night


  • Guest Review: Fever Pitch


  • Friedman on Starving Overseas, Sullivan on Water and Exercise, Dalton on HHGTTG, Kaplan on Gen. Sherman's Religion, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Drifting Down The Stream of Time, RSS

Another week of drifting down the stream of time. Taught school. Thought about going to Europe in June to spend time with both our daughters. Went to a six-hour teacher seminar where, oddly enough, I actually got a few good ideas! Went to a high school play Saturday night, because someone besides the relatives should. Had lunch with old friends Sunday.

Succumbed to the blandishments of Bob Nilsson, I have established

Please point your RSS reader at it and let me know if it works; I am not going to list with any aggregator until I am sure I am doing it right.

Political Notes: Bush's Polls, Wright Vs. Delay

Here's one way to think about Bush's poll results: Bush lost the popular vote twice in a row . In 2000 more voters cast votes for Gore than for Bush. In 2004 more voters cast votes for Kerry than Bush--n.b., vote casting, per PSACOT of 4/11/05, has nothing to do with vote counting. Thus, it is to be expected that Bush's approval rating would remain below 50% because he never had the support of even 50% of the electorate at an election.


Further thoughts on Wright vs. Delay:

Jim Wright was a principled politician. He came from a long line of principled politicians including the late Richard J. Daley, who is given credit for physically resurrecting thousands so they could vote, repeatedly. Wright wrote a book which received wide acclaim, judging from the number of people with impaired literary taste who exercised their First Amendment right to buy the book. Newt Gingrich, in a gross violation of the First Amendment rights of all involved, and his co-conspirators (remember all a conspiracy takes is two people acting together for any purpose (legal or illegal)) hounded the saintly Jim Wright from office for his literary success. The same Newt Gingrich, I might add, who made sure that his wife exercised her First Amendment rights to become an author by signing her name to their divorce papers as she was literally emerging from the anesthetic following an operation for cancer.

Tom DeLay on the other hand is a greedy, arrogant, whiny, cowardly bully (excuse the redundancy). He took money (allegedly indirectly and unknowingly) from some alleged intelligence operatives with Communist connections (ex-KBG) so he could wine and dine in the heart of the landmass formerly known as the Evil Empire (i.e., the ex-Soviet Union). Every time Tom wants to play golf at some expensive locale (usually in Scotland) the National Center For Public Policy Research receives a whopping check from the thoroughly investigated and allegedly disreputable Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The check just happens to be more than enough to cover the green fees, transportation and incidentals. Meanwhile, the married and allegedly devout Mr. DeLay has been busy of late tending not only to his own spiritual needs but also to those of the recently and dearly departed Terry Schiavo. One wonders if the National Center would have to be appropriately re-named (say, "The Alphonse Capone Foundation For Paying Politicians' Green Fees") for DeLay to be held liable for knowing who was the real source of the money used to pay his green fees.

Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Security and obscurity: Peter Swire's recent lecture A Model for When Disclosure Helps Security begins with a paradox: traditional security precautions suggest that the less disclosure the better, while in the open source security and encryption community it is an article of faith that full disclosure (and "many eyeballs" inspecting the code) is the best way to find weaknesses in security code. Swire astutely observes "Both cannot be right - disclosure cannot both help and hurt security" hence the subtitle of his work "What is Different About Computer and Network Security?" Read the full paper here (PDF).

Copyright vs. privacy: which is more important, an ISP's duty to protect the privacy of its customers, or the ISP's duty to prop up the failed business model of media conglomerates? A court may decide: Comcast Sued for Disclosing Customer Information. As previously reported here last January, the landmark documentary Eyes on the Prize is commercially unavailable because of anti-consumer copyright restriction (see also "Sunk by Copyright" here). Is there any hope the situation will improve?: Copyright Reform to Free Orphans? And an in-depth examination of the music industry's claims of harm from p2p music sharing: Piercing the peer-to-peer myths: An examination of the Canadian experience.

Future faster computer tech: Optical computer made from frozen light and World's fastest transistor operates at blinding speed.

Google watch: two derivatives of Google Maps: Paul Rademacher combined "Craigslist and Google Maps, for viewing rental and for-sale listings across the country" (via Boing Boing). Elsewhere, Google Sightseeing asks "Why bother seeing the world for real" when you have Google Maps with satellite imagery? Also this week Google launches video upload program, they are accepting video but have not yet launched the search services to access the video.

Two robotics items: Why robots are scary--and cool and Brooks Forecasts Future of Robotic Technology.

Technobits: SCIgen - An Automatic CS Paper Generator --- Homestar a $192 planetarium for the home --- LED evolution could replace light bulbs --- Life's top 10 greatest inventions --- last June we heard the touching story of an elderly octopus who found love late in life; J-1 has since passed on to the the big coral reef in the sky, but now comes the happy news that Aurora is a mom.


Educational Story

According to a news report, a certain private school in Washington recently was faced with a unique problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bath-room. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints. Every night the maintenance man would remove them and the next day the girls would put them back.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required.

He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers... and then... there are educators.

Wedding Night

At 85 years of age, Charles marries Lou Anne, a lovely 25 year old. Since her new husband is so old, Lou Anne decides that after their wedding she and Charles should have separate bedrooms, because she is concerned that her new, but aged, husband may overexert himself if they spend the entire night together.

After the wedding festivities Lou Anne prepares herself for bed, and the expected "knock" on the door. Sure enough, the knock comes; the door opens and there is Charles, her 85 year old groom, ready for "action."

They "unite as one." All goes well; Charles takes leave of his bride, and she prepares to go to sleep. After a few minutes, Lou Anne hears another knock on her bedroom door, and it's Charles.

Again, he is ready for "action." Somewhat surprised, but nonetheless
willing, Lou Anne consents to more conjugal bliss. When the love-birds are done, Charles kisses his bride, bids her a goodnight and leaves.

She is set to go to sleep again, but Charles is back again, rapping on the door, as fresh as a 25-year old. Ready for more passion. Once again they enjoy one another. But as Charles prepares to leave again, his young bride says to him: "I am thoroughly impressed that at your age you can perform so well and so often. I have been with guys less than a third of your age who were only good once per night. You are truly a great lover, Charles." Charles, somewhat embarrassed, turns to Lou Anne and says: "You mean I was here already?"


Guest Review: Fever Pitch

This film has a lot going for it. Author Nick Hornby's writing - notably High Fidelity and About A Boy - has worked well when adapted for the screen. Directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly (There's Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber, Shallow Hal) have crafted some of the most memorable moments in film comedy. And, for a native Bostonian and diehard Red Sox fan like me, how could a film that chronicles the Sox's remarkable, curse-reversing 2004 season fail to deliver?

Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore are sweetly charming and sporadically funny as two people struggling to come together while their obsessions try to pull them apart. There is plenty of appealing footage of Boston, Fenway Park, Red Sox games, and even a few player cameos in scenes outside the park. There are shots of Stephen King and Red Sox owner John Henry. While the feel-good vibe of the film comes through, for the ultimately happy couple as well as for Red Sox Nation, Fever Pitch feels forced and a bit amateurish, reminiscent of Barrymore's last effort, 50 First Dates. This is a film I wanted to love but, like in many Red Sox seasons past, it just wasn't to be.

--Neal Vitale


Friedman on Starving Overseas, Sullivan on Water and Exercise, Dalton on HHGTTG, Kaplan on Gen. Sherman's Religion, Dan Grobstein File

A friend recommends Thomas Friedman's latest book, The World is Flat, which includes this observation, relevant to education

His parents used to tell him when he was a boy (as did my own) "Finish your dinner. Children are starving in China and India." Today, he says, we should be telling our children "Finish your homework. Children are starving for your jobs in China and India."

Kevin Sullivan found a New York Times article about how water can be dangerous during long exercise.

Richard Dalton found a piece in the British magazine Time Out about the upcoming movie version of The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy.

When one of my students asked me if General Wm. T. Sherman (who burned Atlanta) was Jewish, Dr. Robert Kaplan suggested I check Jewhoo. He isn't listed. He was one of the few generals who knowingly allowed Jewish soldiers to service in his army, however. I can't find out what faith, if any, he practiced. He is also the man who said, "If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve."

Dan Grobstein File

  • Drudge: "I'm Not Gay" Just giving him a taste of his own medicine. This is a piece from the London Times.

New York Times

  • New York Times WASHINGTON | April 11, 2005
    White House Letter: Tunes for the Freewheelin' George Bush
    President Bush has had his Apple iPod since July, when he received it from his twin daughters as a birthday gift. So what, exactly, is on the First iPod?
  • OPINION | April 11, 2005
    Op-Ed Columnist: Ailing Health Care
    America does face a real crisis but it's in health care, not Social Security.
  • BUSINESS / YOUR MONEY | April 10, 2005
    Economic View: A Tax Increase That Bush Didn't Mention
    Cynics have long predicted that the Bush administration will eventually start raising taxes. Now it is becoming clear where some of that money may come from.
  • WASHINGTON | April 9, 2005
    G.O.P. Consultant Weds His Male Partner
    Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant, said that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony in Massachusetts.
  • BUSINESS / MEDIA & ADVERTISING | April 16, 2005
    While Shares Fell, Viacom Paid Three $160 Million
    The top three executives at Viacom Inc. received compensation last year valued at about $52 million to $56 million each in salary, bonus and stock options.

    Mr. Freston and Mr. Moonves received other compensation as well. The filing shows that Mr. Freston charged the company $43,100 for the nights he stayed in his home in Los Angeles instead of staying at a hotel (Mr. Freston is based in New York). Mr. Moonves charged Viacom $105,000 for the nights he stayed in his own home in New York rather than staying at a hotel (he is based in Los Angeles).

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