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July 1999

Ken Starr Again

I could have sworn we had seen the last of this distasteful little weasel, but apparently we have not. This tin-eared Javert still scours the sewers of Washington, D.C. looking for a way to wound Bill Clinton. He may torpedo Hillary's campaign, but , if I may switch metaphors, I think it is more like that this wrong-way Corrigan will issue what he believes to be a damning report, smack in the middle of Hillary's campaign. Here's my prediction: like everything else the man has done, the report will be a ham-handed blatantly political document based on flimsy evidence. Its nature will be so obvious that anyone with half a brain--which is to say, everyone to the left of Genghis Khan or Tom Delay--will see it for what it really will be: a desperate smear by the front man of the right-wing Get Clinton conspiracy. The only way it could possibly hurt her would be if she were running in a Republican primary, which, thank God, she isn't. The sympathy backlash will carry her right into the Senate.

The irony will be delicious: Sen. Hillary Clinton, elected on the back of the last gasp of Kenneth Starr. Now if we can just the GOP to nominate Dan Quayle, we've got it made.

Workplace Friendships

I was reminded of the unusual and sometimes fragile nature of workplace friendships by the presence this week at Chez Schindler of my long-time associate Martin Heller. He was here because a) we have known each other for years, b) he is now a senior contributing editor of, c) I was paying for him to cover JavaOne and finally d) a hotel would have stretched my budget.

By the way, if you know someone casually, have them spend a week at your house. You'll get to know them a lot better.

Martin is one of a handful of my professional colleagues whose company my wife enjoys. He can talk about things--many things--other than computers.

Anyway, the funny thing was that when I left WINDOWS Magazine in the fall o f 1996, I lost track of Martin until March of 1999, when I took over He became a columnist, and we were back in each other's orbits. Ditto Tom LaSusa, who was out of my direct purview for much of that time, after being my assistant at WINDOWS. He is now my producer at

So many people whose company I have enjoyed who dropped off the map when their job or mine changed. I miss Jeremy Barna already.


Father's Day

We take Father's Day pretty seriously around here. The girls made me breakfast and the whole family went to Bridges in San Ramon, the restaurant whose interior was featured in the Robin Williams movie Mrs. Doubtfire. I was grateful for a day during which I could, for the most part, kick back and do whatever I damn well pleased. Including working on this column.

Reynolds on Microsoft

This arrived at the very last minute, just as I was putting the column to bed, and displaced some rather bland remarks about Java based on the JavaOne conference. I think Java has a chance of success, by the way, for sure on the server and maybe even on the client especially if Sun and its supporters meet with some success in the many efforts underway to speed up Java client performance.

But the Microsoft case continues to catch people's attention, so here are the comments of one of my most thoughtful correspondents, Craig Reynolds:

OK Paul, it could be that some of Microsoft's corporate victims had a hand in their own demise. It's easy to find mismanagement anywhere. (Including Microsoft, which is why I don't think this argument explains their current dominance).

But we will never know. Maybe those European nations would have allied with Hitler voluntarily, but once he blitzkrieged through them its hard to know what would have happened had he played fair. Since Microsoft engaged in a pervasive pattern of illegal business activities, its hard to know what would have happened if they had played fair.

OJ Simpson escaped conviction for murder largely because (1) the LA Police Department had indisputably been an openly racist organization for years under the leadership of Chief Daryl Gates, and (2) the LAPD's Crime Lab was so poorly funded it had fallen into demoralization and disrepair. It was easy for OJ's lawyers to make a plausible case that all the evidence was tainted, and that the whole investigation was a racist vendetta.

For the same reason its hard to make a convincing case that Microsoft's competitors would have self-destructed, because obviously Microsoft's illegal activities contributed to their decline. We will never know. But we do know that the consumer was clearly harmed by Microsoft's anti-competitive disruption of the free market.

Little Known Fairy Tales: Paul Makes The Top 5 List

Any other week, choosing the humor would have been difficult. There was the four travelers in a car story, the funny lines from Star Wars when you insert the word "pants" into the phrase, and the top 10 things said by Klingon programmers. But in the end, all this humor was trumped by two things. 1) I have decided to pick just one humor item each week as the best and 2) I made the Top 5 List. Well, that cinched it, of course. I mean, when your submission makes it onto America's premier peer-reviewed humor list, you gotta go with it. I suppose it will soon be time for another "humor special," where I gather up all the leftover humor from the last weeks into a large, ill-formatted separate file and offer it up to you, my loyal readers. But not this week. Mine is Number 6.

June 18, 1999

The Top 14 Little Known Fairy-Tales

14> Snow White, Seven Dwarfs and a Webcam

13> The Knave Who Choked The Warrior Coach But Is Still Getting Many Pieces Of Gold

12> How To Make $5,000 A Week In Your Spare Time

11> Rapennzoil

10> The Emperor's New Clothes from International Male

9> Booty and the Priest

8> The Supermodel and the Top 5 Contributor

7> Little Red Clitoral Hood

6> Bubba and the Slippery Zipper

5> Johnny Leatherpants and His Magic Nipple Clamps

4> Rumpledforeskin

3> The Ogres of Madison County

2> GoldieHawn and the 3 Plastic Surgeons

and's Number 1 Little Known Fairy-Tale...

1> The Little Engine That Never Will (because the lazy bastard's been a disappointment to me and his mother since day one!)

[ This list copyright 1999 by Chris White ]
[ The Top 5 List
[email protected] ]
[ Do not forward, publish, broadcast, or use in any manner ]
[ without crediting "The Top 5 List at" ]

Selected from 139 submissions from 51 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
John Voigt, Chicago, IL -- 1 (18th #1 / Hall of Famer)
Jeff Scherer, Brooklyn, NY -- 2, 5
Patrick Major, Dallas, OR -- 3
M.J. Finan, Cleveland, OH -- 4, 9
Mitch Berg, Saint Paul, MN -- 4 (Rookie!)
Kevin Hawley, Fairless Hills, PA -- 4
Don Horton, Sacramento, CA -- 4
Martell Stroup, Boston, MA -- 4
Kevin Wickart, Normal, IL -- 4
Lisa Lavoie, Milford, NH -- 4
Paul Schindler, Orinda, CA -- 6
Marsha Clodfelter, Corpus Christi, TX -- 7
Jonathan D. Colan, Miami, FL -- 8
Sam Evans, Charleston, SC -- 10 (Hall of Famer)
Larry Baum, Hong Kong -- 11
Dave Wesley, Pleasant Hill, CA -- 12
Michael Wolf, Brookline, MA -- 13
Elliott Downing, Antioch, CA -- 14
Kevin Freels, Burbank, CA -- Topic
Lev L. Spiro, Los Angeles, CA -- Banner Tag (Hall of Famer)
Jeffrey Anbinder, Ithaca, NY -- Runner Up list name
Bill Muse, Seattle, WA -- HM list name (Hall of Famer)
Chris White, New York, NY -- List owner/editor
Cinderella, Philadelphia, PA -- Ambience

Austin Powers

Just the facts (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).

OK, if I were going to talk about the credits, I'd put them here where I usually do. But the only important credit is Mike Meyers, and maybe Rob Lowe, so if you want to know more about the movie, go look it up.

The film is almost exactly 90 minutes. Thanks Mike. Humor is best when done short.

Any remaining doubts that Mike Meyers was a comedic genius are removed by this film. Alas, the ca-ca jokes reveal that, like most other succesfful practicing comedy writer/directors (think Adam Sandler or Woody Allen) his emotional age is about 14, no matter what his chronological age is.

Frankly, I was embarrassed by some of the sexual innuendo and body-function humor (although Power's plaintive question, "How could you," was pretty funny, as you'll see if you go). I mean, the line was funny. The use of Jerry Springer show excerpts was amusing, Rob Lowe continues to grow as a suave self-parodist, and when Meyers is on the screen as Dr. Evil, the laughs just don't stop.

As with Something About Mary, and for that matter, the first Austin Powers movie, there's nothing explicitly pornographic, and thus the PG-13 rating. But I'm not at all sure this sort of thing isn't contributing to the coarsening of our society. Can't we get yocks and keep the humor "above the belt" as we used to say? I think we can. I'll let you know when I find a movie that agrees.

OK for 14 and up. Funny, with a lot of sexual innuendo. If you like the first film, you'll love this one. Not since Godfather II has a sequel been this much better than the original.

Adam Sandler (shudder). Cover subject in the June 20 San Francisco Chronicle Pink Section (arts) predicting a bright future for him and suggesting his film that opens this week will be a monster hit. God, I hope not.


Just the facts (courtesy of the Internet Movie Database).

Once again, the only credits you need to know are that the Minnie Driver is Jane, Rosie O'Donnell is the best-friend monkey and Wayne Knight (Newman of Seinfeld) is the elephant. You want more facts? Click on the IMDB link.

Another crisp 90-minute film, like all major Disney full-length animated features. Once again pushing the envelope of animation technology. The music is snappy but forgettable. It may, as predicted, win the Oscar, but it is no Little Mermaid. You won't leave the theater humming it. Your kids won't be playing a medley of Tarzan music in band next year.

It has everything you expect from a Disney feature. Well-developed characters, a story that works for the kids and the adults they bring with them, and a few changes in the plot to give it a more Disney ending. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Tarzan go back to England in the original Edgar Rice Burroughs story? Oh well, if the Little Mermaid can get to the ship on time, then Jane can decide to stay in the jungle with Tarzan.

It is funny and breathtaking. Never a dull moment (Am I the only one who thinks the bad guy's voice sounds exactly like Captain Hook from Disney's animated Peter Pan?).

I won't insult you by repeating the Tarzan story. You all know it. We're not talking about subtle nuance here. I doubt anyone over the age of 6 will want to see it twice. But even if you don't have kids, if you'd like to be entertained without being insulted or assaulted, you could do a lot worse than Tarzan. If you don't believe me, go rent the videotape of Little Nemo In Slumberland (a family joke).