Friday, March 27, 2020

Medically-Induced Coma

I don't think there's any question that we're going to have something that meets the technical definition of a recession.  But I am not sure that a recession is the best framework for thinking about this from a policy perspective or from understanding the economy.  Right, this is not a case where some part of the economy got out of control and, you know, we kind of needed it to reset itself in some way, you know we didn't have a housing bubble or a dot-com bubble or anything like that.  And it's not a situation again where we need people to rush out and spend to try to get the economy going again.  Somebody described it to me yesterday as a need to put the economy in a medically-induced coma, you know, we need to calm things for a period, so that then it can pick back up quickly, and hopefully be in the best shape possible once we come back.  That's a very different circumstance from kind of what we traditionally think of in a recession.

--  Economics reporter Ben Casselman on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, "COVID-19 Broke The Jobless Claims Chart" @11:39, 26 March 2020

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Holding Their Breath

It's like Mad Max.  It's kind of weird.  It's like everybody's holding their breath, waiting for either society to collapse or society to get back to normal.

-- Joey Camp, the first person in Georgia to be quarantined at a special site after being diagnosed with COVID-19, Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2020


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Healthy Tension

I believe in striving for excellence.  I sweat the big and the small stuff!  I do not apologize for this.  One of the by-products of being a perfectionist and constantly trying to improve myself are sobering feelings of low-grade anxiety and a nagging sense of inadequacy.  But this is not anxiety without a purpose.  No, this anxiety keeps me humble.  It creates a healthy tension that serves as the catalyst that drives me to fulfill my limited potential.

This has made me a better physician and scientist.  Without this tension, I wouldn't be as focused.

I have accepted that I will never know or understand as much as I want.  This is what keeps the quest for knowledge exciting!  And it is one of the reasons I would do my job even if I did not get paid to come to work every day.

-- Dr Anthony Fauci talking about his work on HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, as heard on All Things Considered, 25 July 2005, replayed on the This I Believe podcast, 25 March 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tokyo 2020ish

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating.  Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is "accelerating".  There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.  Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan.  It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

-- Joint statement from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, 24 March 2020

Monday, March 23, 2020

Didn't Fit The Criteria

The nature of Covid-19 put me -- and us all -- in a Catch-22 situation.  I didn't fit the criteria for testing or quarantine.  I had no symptoms and no specific encounter with a Covid-19 positive person.

For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol.  The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined.  It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.

-- Senator Randal Howard Paul (R-KY) (7 January 1963 -), American politician and physician serving as the junior US Senator from Kentucky since 2011, as quoted in the New York Times (23 March 2020) responding to criticism that he actively worked at the Capitol for 5 days while awaiting a positive covid-19 test result, exemplifying the dangers inherent in current limited testing criteria

Friday, March 20, 2020

Visual Muzak

You can, after all, reduce the reasons for watching TV to but two: to be lulled, and to be stimulated.  Some people do one sometimes, the other sometimes.  Some people do all of one or all of the other.  (Am I going to be arrested here for stating the obvious?)

Fred Allen called TV chewing gum for the eyes.  Although many people write me after a show and thank me for educating and stimulating them, my guess is that a larger number of people want TV to be a visual Muzak, a mind deadener.  More of the masses are in search of an opiate than in search of a stimulant.

-- Richard Alva Cavett (born 19 November 1936) is a television talk show host known for his conversational style of in-depth discussion on often serious issues, Cavett, co-authored with Christopher Porterfield (1974), excerpted in New York magazine 22 July 1974

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Exponential

You don't think progress goes in a straight line, do you?  Do you recognize that it is an ascending, accelerating, maybe even exponential curve?  It takes hell's own time to get started, but when it goes it goes like a bomb.

-- Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (1919 - 2013), award-winning science fiction writer and editor, with a career spanning over seventy-five years, Day Million (p. 441)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Stages Of Pandemic

We're at what I call the "I've heard of celebrities who have it" stage, e.g. Idris Elba, Tom Hanks, Kevin Durant, the wife of the prime minister of Canada.

Next I anticipate a stage with a mix of "Did you hear about the celebrity who died?" paired with "I'm acquainted/related to someone who has it."

After that, likely the "It has hit my friends / family / self" stage, in a sort-of "it seems to be everywhere" kind of way.

And that is where I hope it ends. Better that it seems to be everywhere, than that it actually is everywhere. The next couple of stages would be more pessimistic, so I'll forbear speculation concerning their names.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Model Chess Players

One of the most important events in chess starts today in Russia. 8 players from the US, China, France, Russia, and the Netherlands convene for a three-week chess marathon to determine who will challenge the incumbent World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. The only thing -- the tournament takes place amid the unprecedented coronavirus scare in the country where all international sporting events are put on hold.

[T]o supplement the event's coverage without putting the players at risk: Ken and Barbie-like models of the players are prepared and will be available for photography and filming while the players can be safe during the event.

5-inch players' replicas, wearing suits as ties as per FIDE regulations, sitting at the chess tables, can be photographed shaking opponents hands, while the real players will avoid doing that based on the recent health advisory.

Images will be available for all media and chess fans alike to use with Creative Commons license; the dropbox folder will be updated every round: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ehsa8fuog3sn1cr/AADeS5E-bgcLWAFQ5G4jezjPa?dl=0

-- From an email from the World Chess Press Office, 17 March 2020

Monday, March 16, 2020

At All Times

To be positive at all times is to ignore all that is important, sacred or valuable.  To be negative at all times is to be threatened by ridiculousness and instant discredibility.

-- Kurt Donald Cobain (1967 - 1994), lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the American grunge band, Nirvana, Journals p. 18 (2002)

Friday, March 13, 2020

Good Bones

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I've shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I'll keep from my children.  The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that's a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake.  Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children.  I am trying
to sell them the world.  Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right?  You could make this place beautiful.

-- by Maggie Smith, published in Waxwing magazine (Issue IX, Summer 2016)

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Lily Pads

There's an old brain teaser that goes like this: You have a pond of a certain size, and upon that pond, a single lilypad.  This particular species of lily pad reproduces once a day, so that on day two, you have two lily pads.  On day three, you have four, and so on.

Now the teaser. "If it takes the lily pads 48 days to cover the pond completely, how long will it take for the pond to be covered halfway?"

The answer is 47 days.  Moreover, at day 40, you'll barely know the lily pads are there.

-- Megan McArdle, Washington Post, "When a danger is growing exponentially, everything looks fine until it doesn't", 10 March 2020

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pandemic

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly.  It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this virus.  It doesn't change what WHO is doing, and it doesn't change what countries should do.

We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.  This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.

-- World Health Organization Directory-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, speaking at today's COVID-19 media briefing, 11 March 2020

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Holy Land

And then, the Earth being small, mankind will migrate into space, and will cross the airless Saharas which separate planet from planet and sun from sun.  The Earth will become a Holy Land which will be visited by pilgrims from all the quarters of the Universe.  Finally, men will master the forces of Nature; they will become themselves architects of systems, manufacturers of worlds.

-- William Winwood Reade (1838 - 1875), Scottish philosopher, historian, anthropologist, and explorer; his best-known book, The Martyrdom of Man, was a controversial freethinking study of world history, The Martyrdom of Man (1872), Chapter IV, "Intellect"

Monday, March 09, 2020

Right Or Wrong

The Senator from Wisconsin cannot frighten me by exclaiming, "My country, right or wrong." In one sense I say so too.  My country; and my country is the great American Republic.  My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.

-- Carl Schurz (1829 - 1906), German revolutionist, American statesman and reformer, and Union Army general in the American Civil War, Remarks in the Senate (29 February 1872), here responding to the famous slogan derived from a statement of Stephen Decatur: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong."

Friday, March 06, 2020

Just My Hunch

Now, this is just my hunch, and -- but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild.  They will get better very rapidly.  They don't even see a doctor.  They don't even call a doctor.  You never hear about those people.  So, you can't put them down in the category of the overall population in terms of this corona flu and -- or virus.  So you just can't do that.  So, if we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work -- some of them go to work, but they get better.  And then, when you do have a death, like you have had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California -- I believe you had one in New York -- you know, all of a sudden, it seems like 3 or 4%, which is a very high number, as opposed to -- as opposed to a fraction of 1%.

-- President Donald Trump in a telephone interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, 4 March 2020

Thursday, March 05, 2020

Trap Question

Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman.  If you say, "Yeah, there was sexism in this race," everyone says, "Whiner!"  And if you say, "No, there was no sexism," about a bazillion women think, "What planet do you live on?"  I promise you this: I'll have a lot more to say on that subject later on.

-- Senator and former Democratic presidential primary candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), in remarks to the press after suspending her campaign, 5 March 2020

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

More Than They Produce

There must therefore be a considerable class of persons who have both the will and power to consume more material wealth than they produce, or the mercantile classes could not continue profitably to produce so much more than they consume.

-- Thomas Robert Malthus (1766 - 1834), English demographer and political economist best known for his pessimistic but highly influential views on population growth, Principles of Political Economy (Second Edition 1836), Book II, Chapter I, On the Progress of Wealth, Section IX, p. 400

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Persuasion

Persuasion, indeed, is a kind of force.  It consists in showing a person the consequences of his actions.  It is, in a word, force applied through the mind.

-- Sir James Fitzjames Stephen (3 March 1829 - 11 March 1894), English lawyer, judge, and philosopher, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873-1874) Ch. 3 : The Distinction Between the Temporal and Spiritual Power

Monday, March 02, 2020

Not Proprietary

Truth is not proprietary.  If something is true, those manifestations, you'll see in all kinds of different ways.

-- Marc MacYoung, on the Managing Violence Podcast, February 2020

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Day

Intercalary: Inserted out of the common order to preserve the equation of time, as the twenty-ninth of February in a leap year is an intercalary day.

-- A Dictionary of the English Language, by Robert Gordon Latham, founded on that of Dr. Samuel Johnson, as edited by H. J. Todd, 1866

Friday, February 28, 2020

RIP Freeman Dyson

There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.

-- Freeman John Dyson (15 December 1923 - 28 February 2020), English-born American physicist, mathematician, and futurist, famous for his work in quantum mechanics, nuclear weapons design and policy, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; winner of the Templeton Prize in the year 2000; Disturbing the Universe (1979)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Regular Season Debut

The best possible thing that can happen in a hockey game is a team losing their goalie, their backup goalie, and necessitating the activation of an emergency backup goalie. Every team in the NHL is required to grant entrance to the arena to a designated person with typically amateur goalie experience who -- in the highly unlikely event that either team has no viable players to tend goal -- will be called upon in times of great duress to suit up and play the game of hockey. This past weekend, such a hero had their moment in the sun: David Ayres, a 42-year-old who drives Zamboni machines in Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, was designated the goalie of the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leaves, making eight saves in the process and becoming the oldest person in the history of the NHL to win a regular season debut. Today, NHL general managers are gathering for their annual meetings, and the emergency backup system may be up for discussion. Unless their decision is "pre-emptively cutting a deal with a major studio for the inevitable film rights," any change would be a colossal error.

-- Walt Hickey, "NumLock News" 27 February 2020, citing Tom Gulitti, NHL.com

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

To Dust We Shall Return

We begin the Lenten Season by receiving ashes: "You are dust, and to dust you shall return" (cf. Gen 3:19).  The dust sprinkled on our heads brings us back to earth; it reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return.  We are weak, frail and mortal.  Centuries and millennia pass and we come and go; before the immensity of galaxies and space, we are nothing.  We are dust in the universe.

-- Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, Basilica of Santa Sabina, Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Too Afraid

You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world -- which is why it doesn't work.  I don't share this heresy.  I'm too afraid!

-- Eugène Ionesco (1909 - 1994), Romanian playwright and dramatist, in "Eugene Ionesco, The Art of Theater No. 6" interviewed by Shusha Guppy, in Paris Review (Fall 1984), No. 93

Monday, February 24, 2020

Customized

In God's body shop, each of us was customized.  But science came along to substitute statistical inference for free will.  We are now a tribe of likelihoods.

-- John Leonard (25 February 1939 - 5 November 2008), American literary, TV, film, and cultural critic, Private Lives in the Imperial City, "On Being Average" p. 49 (1979)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Best Efforts

You know I believe that our main trouble is too many people putting forth their best efforts.  I've been asking 12,000 people a year, is anyone here not putting forth their best effort, please stand.  No one stands.

Everyone's putting forth their best effort.  And that's the problem.  We are being ruined by poeple putting forth their best efforts.  We'd be far better off if most of those people would just not show up for work.  Come in late.  Just forget it.  ...  We are being ruined by the best efforts of people who are doing the wrong thing.

-- William Edwards Deming (1900 - 1993), American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant, known for his work in the field of quality management, as quoted by Brian Joiner

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Baby Girl

Tonight I am honored to welcome into the world Baby Girl Warren [given name TBD], the #2 child (second daughter) of my #3 child, Heather, and her husband, Beaux.  This gives me a total of 11 grandkids, 7 girls and 4 boys.  I hope to travel to meet the new arrival in a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Most Unmanageable

Of all animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.

-- Plato (c. 427 BC - c. 347 BC), immensely influential classical Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, in The Laws, Plato's last dialogue

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

For A Reason

He's [Pres. Trump] got a obviously a big fan in me.  If you're asking what my party affiliation is... I'm a Trumpocrat.

-- Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, speaking to reporters at Denver International Airport after being released from prison subsequent to the commutation of his sentence by President Trump, 18 February 2020



I really wish someone would have asked the people of Illinois whether we want Blagojevich to be set free.  I'm pretty sure we put him in prison for a reason.

Monday, February 17, 2020

My President Didn't Do That

The fact is, and the thing that is so appalling to me, is that the President, when this whole idea was suggested to him, didn't in righteous indignation rise up and say "get out of here.  You are in the office of the President of the United States.  How can you talk about blackmail and bribery and keeping witnesses silent?  This is the Presidency of the United States!", and throw them out of his office, and pick up the phone and call the Department of Justice and tell them "there is obstruction of justice going on, someone is trying to buy the silence of a witness."

But my President didn't do that.  He sat there, and he worked and worked to try to cover this thing up so it wouldn't come to light.

-- Lawrence Joseph Hogan (1928 - 2017), Republican former U.S. Congressman (MD-5), opening statement in the Debate on Articles of Impeachment, Committee on the Judiciary, 24 July 1974

Friday, February 14, 2020

Time Enough For Love

Work is not an end in itself; there must always be time enough for love.

-- Robert Anson Heinlein (1907 - 1988), popular, influential, and controversial author of science fiction, Time Enough for Love (1973)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

With Integrity

[T]o have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity.

-- US Attorney General William Barr, in an interview with ABC News, after the DOJ over-ruled sentencing recommendations in the case of Trump friend Roger Stone in apparent response to a presidential tweet, 13 February 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tenant Farmers

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy -- sun, wind and tide. ... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!  I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

-- Thomas Alva Edison (11 February 1847 - 18 October 1931), American inventor and businessman, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone (1931); as quoted in Uncommon Friends : Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (1987) by James Newton, p. 31

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Shake Hands

Let's not shake hands in this special time.

-- Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as he toured Beijing on Monday after facing criticism for his relatively low profile during the Covid-19 outbreak, New York Times, 11 February 2020

Friday, February 07, 2020

Conscience

[M]y promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience. ...

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office.  The results of this Senate court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people.  Voters will make the final decision, just as the president's lawyers have implored.  My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.  But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.

-- Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) explaining on the Senate floor his decision to vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, 5 February 2020

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Ordered And Adjudged

The Senate, having tried Donald John Trump, President of the United States, upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives, and two-thirds of the Senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and adjudged that Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles.

-- US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, delivering the verdict in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, 5 February 2020

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru

Turning a blind eye is an idiom describing the ignoring of undesirable information.

Although the Oxford English Dictionary records usage of the phrase as early as 1698, the phrase to turn a blind eye is often attributed to an incident in the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Nelson was blinded in one eye early in his Royal Navy career.  During the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 the cautious Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, in overall command of the British forces, sent a signal to Nelson's forces ordering them to discontinue the action.  Naval orders were transmitted via a system of signal flags at that time.  When this order was brought to the more aggressive Nelson's attention, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye, saying, "I have a right to be blind sometimes.  I really do not see the signal," and most of his forces continued to press home the attack.

-- Wikipedia article on "Turning a blind eye"

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Intimate Converse

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations -- such is a pleasure beyond compare.

-- Yoshida Kenko (1283? – 1350?), Japanese author and Buddhist monk, The Tzuredzure Gusa (Essays In Idleness) of Yoshida no Kaneyoshi, as translated by George Sansom (1911)

Monday, February 03, 2020

Excuses

Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin -- the desk's too big, the desk's too small, there's too much noise, there's too much quiet, it's too hot, it's too cold, too early, too late.  I had learned over the years to ignore them all and simply to start.

-- Robert Dennis Harris (7 March 1957 -), English novelist, The Ghost (2007)

Friday, January 31, 2020

Brexit

Tonight we are leaving the European Union. For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come and there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss. And then of course there is a third group -- perhaps the biggest -- who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end.

... We will spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK and if we can get this right I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad and in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change, in our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades. The power of independent thought and action.

... Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.

-- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a statement issued as the United Kingdom formally exited the European Union today, 31 January 2020

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Born To Reign

Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interest, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

-- Thomas Paine (29 January 1737 - 8 June 1809), British-American political writer, theorist, and activist who had a great influence on the thoughts and ideas which led to the American Revolution and the United States Declaration of Independence, Common Sense (10 January 1776)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Go Bulldogs

Tonight it's easy to know what to write about.  The Bement 5th-grade boys basketball team, including my grandson Joseph, won their regional championship a few hours ago.

Next week they'll play in sectionals.  Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Shamelessness

I feel like the main thing that has happened in the world in the last couple of years is the rise of shamelessness.  Social opprobrium is much more powerful than laws most of the time.  [The reason] we don't do things is not because there's a law against it, but because we'd be embarrassed or ashamed. ...  If [shame] stops being a tool, if people refuse to feel shame, either because they know their team will support them, or because they are narcissists, it really undermines the whole fabric of society in ways I didn't realize until we got to this place.

-- David Plotz, host of Slate's Political Gabfest, on the show's 19 April 2018 episode, as quoted by Dan Rodricks in "Rodricks: Expressing shame in an era of shamelessness", The Baltimore Sun, 24 April 2018


Monday, January 27, 2020

RIP Kobe Bryant

My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It's hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players.

He gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, & NBA & WNBA players. Words can't express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the City of Los Angeles.

While I shared a personal relationship with Kobe and his family, it is not lost on me the other families who woke up today missing their family members. Let us all continue to pray for the lives that were lost and their families in mourning.

-- Earvin Magic Johnson, in a series of tweets after the death of Kobe Bryant (23 August 1978 - 26 January 2020), 26 January 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

Right Matters

If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost.  Framers couldn't protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don't matter.  And you know that what he did was not right. ...  But here, right is supposed to matter.  It's what's made us the greatest nation on earth.  No constitution can protect us, [if] right doesn't matter any more.  And you know you can't trust this President to do what's right for this country.  You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump.  He'll do it now.  He's done it before.  He'll do it for the next several months.  He'll do it in the election if he's allowed to.  This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.  Because right matters.  Because right matters and the truth matters.  Otherwise, we are lost.

-- Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, in an impassioned closing speech urging senators to convict and remove President Trump, 23 January 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

RIP Jim Lehrer

If we don't have an informed electorate we don't have a democracy.  So I don't care how people get the information, as long as they get it.  I'm just doing it my particular way and I feel lucky I can do it the way I want to do it.

-- James Charles Lehrer (19 May 1934 - 23 January 2020), American journalist and novelist, executive editor and news anchor for the PBS NewsHour on PBS, and a debate moderator during U.S. presidential election campaigns, as quoted in "Jim Lehrer on Billy Bob, Reports of Rain and Stenography As Journalism" by Liz Cox Barrett, Columbia Journalism Review (2 June 2006)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Not Incentive-Compatible

Kant is wrong to assume that everything is best fitted to its purpose.  In particular, nothing says that homo sapiens is well equipped for living in large societies.  If he were, there would presumably be less of homo economicus in his nature and more of some antlike variety of homo behavioralis.  As a consequence, Nature has to live with societies that have second-best welfare properties.  She cannot achieve the first-best outcomes to which those like Kant aspire because the latter are not incentive-compatible.  That is to say, they are achievable only if the human beings who live in the society act in a manner that is incompatible with their nature.

-- Kenneth George "Ken" Binmore, CBE (1940 -), British mathematician, economist, and game theorist, Game Theory and the Social Contract (1994), p. 152

Monday, January 20, 2020

No Conflict

There is no conflict in the absolute universe, but there is conflict in the relative world.

-- Koichi Tohei (20 January 1920 - 19 May 2011), 10th Dan aikidoka and founder of the Ki Society and its style of aikido, officially Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (literally "aikido with mind and body unified"), but commonly known as "Ki-Aikido", Ki Sayings (2003), 10 : The principle of non-dissension

Friday, January 17, 2020

Air Supply

Following the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, the Los Angeles Unified School District installed air filters in every classroom and common area in all schools within five miles of the facility. Air testing found that the schools never actually endured higher levels of pollution, but a subsequent study about the impact of the air filters was shocking compared to schools outside the immediate area of impact: math scores went up by 0.2 standard deviations and English scores increased by 0.18 standard deviations, an increase that held even after accounting for student demographics and controlling for pollution levels at home. That’s an enormous pop linked to a small HVAC fix that costs just a few hundred dollars: for perspective, cutting class size by one third has been linked to a 0.22 standard deviation improvement.

-- NumLock News, 9 January 2020, reporting on a story by Matthew Yglesias, Vox, 8 January 2020