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

June 20, 2005: P.S. A Column On Things

June 20, 2005 Vol. 7, No. 24

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Eco-Friendly Car
  • Seva
  • Wow
  • Who's Best In High School
  • I'm Improving--Why?
  • Marlow in the Netherlands
  • Political Notes

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs


  • The Top 25 Ways Michael Jackson Can Repair His Image


  • None


  • Sullivan on IMSDb, Malchman on Fleet Street, Buck likes Jobs at Stanford, Dalton on PBS threat, Dan Grobstein File

General News

Eco-Friendly Car

Last weekend I leased a 2006 Toyota Highlander Hybrid--you know, the same electric/gas hybrid engine as a Prius, but with enough headroom for a guy who is almost 6-2. I'll miss the Mercedes ML320, but this is a way cooler car. I can expect about 33 in the city, 20 on the highway--and during the school year I do 90% of my driving in the city. Plus, there's a gauge that helps me to learn to drive more economically. I wish I could plug it in to charge it, but you can't have everything (and I hear there are kits, although they void your warranty). The dealer kept asking Vicki and me if we were excited. I'm excited. I think she is too--just less so.


You will notice, perhaps, as I did, the outburst of personal ideas and experiences since the end of school last Friday. I suddenly realized it was like a cork being removed from a bottle. My theory: I have gone from thinking almost constantly about my students to thinking more about myself and my needs.

Also in the Wow department, a spiritually oriented friend of mine called to deliver a message about the divine will; we are all, after all, only ideas in the mind of God. She suggested that surrender to the will of God--who maintains free will, but also accepts it back, freely given--is navigating through a crowded city in a car. You can do it with a map or what you can see, or you can accept help from a GPS and a helicopter pilot who can see you and the whole city--and who, by the way, knows what every other driver is thinking. It is appealing, if only I knew exactly how to do it...

And another "Wow" is that I should be spending eight hours over four days this week doing Seva for a saint (see Seva below), and then, during that same week, get advice from one of the most psychically aware individuals I know. Is God trying to tell me something?


I did volunteer work at the M.A. Center during Ammachi's visit to San Ramon to kick off her summer tour of the United States. She's the "hugging saint." People in the Bay Area will recall a huge front page picture and headline, "10-Hour Wait For A Three Second Hug." A gross exaggeration and an article that tried to place her in the context of a lot of failed male gurus. Definitely a mixed bag, but as Barnum said, any publicity is good as long as your name is spelled right.

Who's Best In High School

In the New Yorker's June 6 issue, Magaret Talbot wrote Best in Class, about disputes--some of them legal--over who should be valedictorian in a high school class. It brought back a flood of memories from my own graduation.

I considered using real names in this item, then decided I shouldn't really violated anyone's privacy in that way, and it doesn't make the item better anyway.

My high school was a citywide admissions high school. Entry was by test, and it was highly competitive. Back in my day, they posted the class ranking in the front hall--something I am sure is no longer done. In high school I was proud of my ranking. Lucky for me, MIT stopped publishing class ranking a few years before I arrived, because I would not have been proud of my ranking there, which likely would have been 998 out of 1,000.

In any case, in four years I earned one B, which, by the end of my senior year gave me a 3.975 average, and a rank of third. JG had a 3.98, which earned him second--and confirms what the article notes about small differences leading to large perceptions. On top of our class was RM. Now RM was a jolly fellow, but while I was working my butt off, majoring in radio/electronics (we had majors at my school), Roger majored in guitar playing and partying; his major at school was architecture, widely considered to be a gut major. He never took a difficult elective (I took two years of German), and his GPA of 4.0 (the only one in our school in those pre-grade inflation days) was widely considered to be padded and unfair. Yet, in the program from my graduation, there he is, listed first in my class.

Just as I feel RM's ranking was unfair (I have been unable ever to find out what he made of his life, although JG was very successful) and didn't tell the whole story, I feel my non-published ranking at MIT was also not the entire story. After all, you know what they call the person who finishes last in their class at medical school: "Doctor." I graduated, and about 15-20% of any given class doesn't manage that accomplishment. I've had a very successful and happy life. And that counts for a lot too. Probably more than your college GPA.

Come to think of it, for the first time in decades, I realize that I hope RM did OK too.

I'm Improving--Why?

I am so much more at peace, less tense and nervous, that even casual acquaintances have commented upon it in the last few months. My doctors certainly see it as they monitor my health. I am slowly losing weight. I am sleeping better. Is it Aqua-Chi? Is it the vitamin program set by my nutritionist? Is it teaching half-time (instead of full time) and getting fewer difficult students this year? Is it that I am learning how to teach?

It could be any of those externals. But as a good friend of mine noted in a recent email, it could also be that I am farther along on my internal journey towards peace.

Like the nature v. nurture argument, this one can never be settled. And like that argument, it is false to wonder whether the improvement results from external factors or internal factors: clearly, it results from both.

Speaking of internal peace, I must wish a very happy retirement to one of the coolest teachers I know, Kent Peterman, who taught elementary school for many years. Go Kent!

Marlow in the Netherlands

Marlow is doing graduate work at Leiden University in The Netherlands. Her latest report:

Yesterday I went to see the Prime Minister of Monoglia speak at Clingendael. J and A actually wore suits, which I definitely need one of, and we took the train into the Hague for the speech. Unfortunately, the speech wasn't as good as the talk the ambassador for Mongolia to the UN gave in my class on Mongolian History at Columbia, but then I suppose her whole job is in English, whereas the Prime Minister is more accountable to the domestic audience. There is a delegation of Mongolian ambassadors getting diplomatic training at the Clingaendael Institute; they were in the audience. After the Prime Minister's brief address about security issues, in which he briefly mentioned North Korea but mainly gave a National Geographic description of surrounding countries and various regional names such as Central Asia and North East Asia, the credentials of the people asking questions from the audience were impressive. There were retired finance ministers and ambassadors from the Dutch government.

Afterwards I had my first Japanese meal in the Netherlands with J and A. Not bad; I had the chicken teriyaki, deciding it would probably be unsatisfying to do sushi.

I am also going to a Snoop Dogg concert with A on Wednesday, and unfortunately I still have a lot of work to do on that final paper, but at least I'm busy. I plow through the Acheson memoirs a little each day.


I saw the Snoop concert with A last night in Amsterdam. We had seats so we weren't actually on the floor near the stage, and we actually remained seated during much of the concert. The crowd wasn't quite what I expected, but I guess Dutch people listen to rap too, or just like going to concerts.

Political Notes


  • Daniel Dern: Recent quote from the Sunday Oregonian's "Short &Sweet" column

    "Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."


Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Inside a tornado: this amazing feature from National Geographic allows you to see and hear what it is like to be in the path of an F4 tornado -- without all that annoying being thrown about like a rag doll or ripped to shreds! Tim Samaras built innovative "tornado-proof" camera housings then placed them in the path of an approaching tornado. Windy wacky hijinks ensue.

Internet Collaboration: BusinessWeek ran an in-depth article called The Power Of Us saying "Mass collaboration on the Internet is shaking up business." It talks about how decentralized systems, communicating over the net enable products, services and human collaboration in new ways.

Microsoft vs. democracy: as reported by the Financial Times, MSN now prevents its Chinese users from using "forbidden speech": Microsoft bans 'democracy' for China web users. Microsoft says "MSN abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates" but the article points out "there is no Chinese law that bars the mere use of words such as democracy."

Technobits: more on What's Really Behind the Apple-Intel Alliance --- Enough Keyword Searches. Just Answer My Question. --- Online music firm Snocap goes indie route --- Earth's "Bigger Cousin" Detected.


The Top 25 Ways Michael Jackson Can Repair His Image

June 16, 2005

25> Just to show he's really not a pervert, sleep with a few 12-year-old girls.

24> Raise the Neverland threat level to SEQUIN.

23> Next time, opt for a big red nose to complete the clown look.

22> Take a page from Betty Ford: Open the Michael Jackson Pedophilia Rehab Center and check self in.

21> Collaborate with Sir Mix-a-Lot on a song about tits and ass.

20> Out with the monkey; in with a pit bull.

19> From now on, only lick the heads of supermodels.

18> Hire a bouncer to stand at the foot of his bed and check IDs.

17> Go to Meineke for a facial.

16> Lure Mike Tyson out of retirement for an easy win in the ring.

15> Half-off all Rohypnol-laced cotton candy at Neverland!

14> Replace all the Jesus Juice with L. Ron Hubbard-Ade.

13> Buy a Pepsi, get publishing rights to a Beatles song!

12> Recruit Pete Townshend and the principal from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as fellow "goodwill ambassadors" to tour the tsunami-ravaged Thailand underage sex-distr-- er, orphanages.

11> Use super-cool dance moves to capture Osama bin Laden.

10> Put on a happy face -- the one that's been in storage since the trial started.

9> Turn back time by re-installing nose #14 from September 1989.

8> Invade Iraq. Hey, it worked for you-know-who.

7> Use his masculine charms to woo Katie away from Tom.

6> Hire Phil Spector to produce killer new album.

5> Same way he repairs his face: spackle, bailing twine, duct tape, Super Glue and a trowel.

4> Step one: Find that other friggin' glove.

3> A public slapping-around of Macaulay Culkin would be a good start.

2> Change the name Neverland to Never-Been-Convicted-Yet-for- Bending-Little-Boys-Over-Like-a-Willow-Tree-in-an-86-Mile- an-Hour-Wind Land.

and's Number 1 Way Michael Jackson Can Repair His Image...

1> Quit hanging out with lawyers.

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 2005 by Chris White ]
Selected from 124 submissions from 47 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Meg Silvern, Tucson, AZ -- 1 (Woohoo! 1st #1!)
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 20




Sullivan on IMSDb, Malchman on Fleet Street, Buck likes Jobs at Stanford, Dalton on PBS threat, Dan Grobstein File

Kevin's regular finds are ALMOST enough to get me to subscribe to Netsurfer Digest. I would, actually, were I still in the business... Here's his latest:

Internet Movie Script Database
IMSDb is a treasure trove of movie scripts that spans a broad selection of genres. The site contains primarily Hollywood-produced scripts from the last 25 years and we will pay no attention to potential copyright violations. Samples include gems such as "Adaptation", "Trainspotting", and "Finding Nemo", and the list truly does go on. Of particular interest is the fact that none of the featured scripts are actual shooting scripts: many of these drafts came quite early in the process and it is fascinating to compare the writer's initial concepts to what eventually showed up as the finished product. Another point of interest is simply how much the craft of screenplay writing and, for that matter, script format has changed through the years. Witness the transformation from "Duck Soup" to "American Graffiti" to "Thelma and Louise" to "Sideways".

Robert Malchman noticed that, with the departure of Reuters from Fleet Street the only news organization left is AFP. As he put it: There's something particularly disturbing about the French being the last journalists on the block.

Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford got a lot of play in the SF Bay Area, but it's worth reading even if you don't live around here. Thanks Richard Buck.

Richard Dalton writes:

You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check the footnotes if you don't believe me.) Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS.

Dan Grobstein File

Remember how Rumsfeld used to say that the US had enough men under arms to fight 2.5 wars at the same time? What happened to that?

Remember soon after the invasion of Afghanistan when the first prisoners arrived at Guantanamo? There were stories saying that they expected to be hurt but were surprised when the military doctors treated their problems. What happened to that?

I saw John Prine last night. It sure looks strange to see these old guys up on the stage with their jamming with their guitars and basses. He had a young guitarist who was very good. He did a two-hour show. Are there any singer/songwriters out now who also get airplay like he got in the 70s? I haven't heard his stuff in years but I recognized most of it. Lots of old guys in the audience. Lots of in and out during the concert. Most stuff I go to the people stay in their seats.

I'm going to see Hal Holbrook do Mark Twain Tonight on Sunday afternoon. NY sure is great.


  • Jonathan Miller's blog: In The Atlantic Paul Wolfowitz completely pantsless on the question of WMD in Iraq, James Fallows offers a pretty fascinating, if fanciful, future economic meltdown scenario and a North Korea war game.
  • Talking Points Memo: Who'da thunk something like this could be going on with the grownups in charge of Washington.
  • Steve Gilliard: Mayonnaise. Again. Not again for Steve, again for Dan.
  • Eric Alterman: Nobody cares what editorial staffs think and most of what they publish is pablum, or in the case of the Wall Street Journal etc., nuts. But they do give readers the impression that everything else in the paper is biased, particularly when it comes to election endorsements. This is one case where Ayn Randism is kinda right. Mike Kinsley's column is a hell of a lot more interesting than a L.A. Times editorial could ever be.
  • Barry Ritholtz: Quoting Joan Mccullough of East Shore Partners on the University of Michigan survey of consumer confidence, a widely watched indicator: "A reminder that this is a survey of 250 people who aren't smart enough to let the answering machine pick-up." At, Barry sez: "Giving you access to ... financial luminaries is one valuable service the media provide for investors. As for the rest, savvy investors know it's mainly just noise and entertainment."

New York Times

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