Friday, December 04, 2020

I Shaved

I got my cancer diagnosis in October 2015.  While getting ready for December surgery I started growing a beard.  I figured I would shave it off when I was declared cancer-free, and I thought that would take about six months.  I've been getting my numbers checked every three months for five years now.  With a string of zeroes, and the zero that I got this week, we're switching to testing every four months.  Baby steps, but things are looking good.

Yesterday, I shaved the beard.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Men Always Grow Vicious

Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired: for in the course of things, men always grow vicious before they become unbelievers; but if you would once convince the town or country profligate, by topics drawn from the view of their own quiet reputation, health, and advantage, their infidelity would soon drop off: This I confess is no easy task, because it is almost in a literal sense, to fight with beasts.

-- Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), Anglo-Irish writer and satirist, Letter to a Young Clergyman (9 January 1720), on proving Christianity to unbelievers

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Four Years

It's been an amazing four years.  We're trying to do another four years.  Otherwise, I'll see you in four years.

-- President Donald Trump, speaking at the White House at a holiday reception for members of the Republican National Committee and others, 1 December 2020

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Abandoned In The Present

I construct my memories with my present.  I am lost, abandoned in the present.  I try in vain to rejoin the past: I cannot escape.

-- Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (1905 - 1980), French existentialist philosopher, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist, and critic, Nausea (1938)


Monday, November 30, 2020

Solitude

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition.  Man is the only being who knows he is alone.

-- Octavio Paz Lozano (1914 - 1998), poet, writer, diplomat, and winner of the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Mexican writer to become a Nobel Laureate, The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950)

Friday, November 27, 2020

Interdependence

Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency.  Man is a social being.  Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism.  His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality.

-- Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, 21 March 1929, p. 93

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.

Yesterday and today I made 6 pies -- 2 apple pies, 3 pumpkin pies, and a sweet potato pie.  Those pies are going to the households of my 5 adult daughters.  This morning we Zoomed, and I got to see my 11 grandchildren.

I've got all the fixings ready for 3 or 4 more pies, but I ran out of pie pans.  I'll have to get some back before I can bake myself a pie.

Plenty to be thankful for.  I hope you can say the same.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

For What I Am & Have

I am grateful for what I am & have.  My thanksgiving is perpetual.  It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite -- only a sense of existence.  Well, anything for variety.  I am ready to try this for the next 1000 years, & exhaust it.  How sweet to think of!  My extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while.  My breath is sweet to me.  O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches.  No run on my bank can drain it -- for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.

-- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), American essayist, poet, and philosopher, Letter to Harrison Gray Otis Blake (6&7 December 1856), as published in The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau (1958), p. 444

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Please Wear A Mask

In the last week (604,800 seconds), through this morning at midnight, the United States saw 1,221,179 new covid cases.  For a little perspective, that's 2.02 positive cases *per second* for a week.

Over the same period, there was a covid death in the United States every 55.90 seconds.

Last Friday 20 November, there were 204,580 new cases and 1968 new deaths.  That works out to 2.4 new cases per second over a 24-hour period, with a death every 44 seconds.  On Saturday, it was 1 death every 42 seconds.

Please wear a mask around others.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Arecibo Going Dark

After more than a half-century of supporting breakthrough scientific work -- and providing a scenic backdrop for Contact, GoldenEye and other blockbuster Hollywood films -- the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is going dark.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the observatory, announced on November 19 that it will begin the process of planning for "controlled decommissioning" of the 305-meter telescope.  Over the past several months the instrument has suffered two catastrophic failures of cables that support its 900-ton (817-metric-ton) central receiving platform.

"This decision is intended to preserve life and safety of people and prevent the loss of the entire Arecibo Observatory, including the visitor education center, in the event of an unexpected and uncontrolled collapse," said Sean Jones, assistant director of the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the NSF, during a press conference.  "This decision is not an easy one for NSF to make. But safety of people is our number-one priority."

-- Leonard David, Arecibo Observatory to Close Its Giant Eye on the Sky, Scientific American, 20 November 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020

Undemocratic Action

Having failed to make even a plausible case of widespread fraud or conspiracy before any court of law, the President has now resorted to overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.  It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.

-- Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), tweeting as @MittRomney, 19 November 2020

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Most Fabulous

I am the most fabulous whiner.  I do whine because I want to win.  And I'm not happy if I'm not winning.  And I am a whiner.  And I'm a whiner and I keep whining and whining until I win.  And I'm going to win for the country and I'm going to make our country great again.

-- Donald Trump, in a CNN "New Day" interview with Chris Cuomo, as quoted by Colin Campbell in "Donald Trump: 'I am the most fabulous whiner'", Business Insider, 11 August 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Attractive

People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.

-- Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662), French mathematician, logician, physicist and theologian, De l'Art de persuader ["On the Art of Persuasion"] (1658)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Great Potential Cost

Moral bankruptcy: the state a person reaches when he trades away or violates too many of his core moral values and commitments.  He may also lose important relationships either as a cause or consequence of his loss of moral commitments.  Someone who is morally bankrupt may or may not recognize that he has reached this state. 

Some people may never recognize they have reached the point of moral bankruptcy.  Denial, the first cousin of rationalization, functions to maintain a person's perception of reality.  Denial helps a person to maintain a fiction in the cold light of fact.  Denial is a perversely remarkable creative ability that carries a great potential cost. 

-- Peg O'Connor, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and gender, women, and sexuality studies at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, Declaring Moral Bankruptcy, Psychology Today, 31 October 2014

Monday, November 16, 2020

Boulder Pushers

We spend our lives fighting to get people very slightly more stupid than ourselves to accept truths that the great men have always known.  They have known for thousands of years that to lock a sick person into solitary confinement makes him worse.  They have known for thousands of years that a poor man who is frightened of his landlord and of the police is a slave.  They have known it.  We know it.  But do the great enlightened mass of the British people know it?  No.  It is our task, Ella, yours and mine, to tell them.  Because the great men are too great to be bothered.  They are already discovering how to colonise Venus and to irrigate the moon.  That is what is important for our time.  You and I are the boulder-pushers.  All our lives, you and I, we'll put all our energies, all our talents into pushing a great boulder up a mountain.  The boulder is the truth that the great men know by instinct, and the mountain is the stupidity of mankind.

-- Doris Lessing (1919 - 2013), British writer, born Doris May Tayler.  In October 2007 Lessing became the eleventh woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in its 106-year history, and its oldest recipient ever.  Paul Tanner, in "Free Women: 1", The Golden Notebook (1962)

Friday, November 13, 2020

A Way To Cede Power

I don't know what the calculation is that goes on in the mind of the leaders about what to take to the floor, but we don't vote on a lot of legislation.  If the Senate refuses to tackle the major issues, then the president will and he'll just issue executive orders.  Just saying "No" doesn't enhance our power.  It's a way to cede power.

-- Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), as quoted by David Brooks in How Biden Could Steer a Divided Government, New York Times, 12 November 2020

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Promised Land

What I can say for certain is that I'm not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America -- not just for the sake of future generations of Americans but for all of humankind.  I'm convinced that the pandemic we're currently living through is both a manifestation of and a mere interruption in the relentless march toward an interconnected world, one in which peoples and cultures can't help but collide.  In that world -- of global supply chains, instantaneous capital transfers, social media, transnational terrorist networks, climate change, mass migration, and ever-increasing complexity -- we will learn to live together, cooperate with one another, and recognize the dignity of others, or we will perish.  And so the world watches America -- the only great power in history made up of people from every corner of the planet, comprising every race and faith and cultural practice -- to see if our experiment in democracy can work.  To see if we can do what no other nation has ever done.  To see if we can actually live up to the meaning of our creed.

-- Barack Obama, in his new memoir A Promised Land, as excerpted in The Atlantic, November 2020

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Not Our Job

I think it's hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act.

I think, frankly, that they wanted the court to do that.  But that's not our job.

-- Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, addressing Texas Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins, in California v Texas, which seeks an end to the Affordable Care Act, NPR, 10 November 2020

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Take Morality Seriously

Aristotle wrote that good habits formed at youth make all the difference.  And moral education must affirm the central importance of moral example.  It has been said that there is nothing more influential, more determinant, in a child's life than the moral power of quiet example.  For children to take morality seriously they must be in the presence of adults who take morality seriously.  And with their own eyes they must see adults take morality seriously.

-- William Bennett in "Book of Virtues" (1993) pg 11, as quoted by John Dickerson on Twitter, 8 November 2020

Monday, November 09, 2020

Prayers For His Success

I just talked to the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.  I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night.  I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency.  Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.  The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans.  I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.

I want to congratulate President Trump and his supporters on a hard-fought campaign. He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans - an extraordinary political achievement.  They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.  

The challenges that face our country will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris - and the best of us all.   We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future. There is no problem that will not yield to the gathered will of a free people. 

-- Statement by President George W. Bush, congratulating President-elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, 8 November 2020

Friday, November 06, 2020

Illusion Of A Horse Race

The fact that ballots are counted sequentially lends the process of vote counting important transparency.  But it can also lead us to apply inappropriate mental frames.  For instance, we may resort to horse-race language that suggests that Biden is pulling ahead at the last second, but in fact these votes were all cast on or before Election Day.  The illusion of a dramatic horse race is simply a product of the order in which we count votes.

-- Dan Hopkins, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, on the FiveThirtyEight 2020 Election Live Blog, 6 November 2020 at 10:16 AM

Thursday, November 05, 2020

The Vote Is Sacred

In America, the vote is sacred.  It's how people of this nation express their will.  And, it is the will of the voters, no one, not anything else, that chooses the president of the United States of America.  So, each ballot must be counted, and that's what we're going to see going through now, and that's how it should be.

Democracy is sometimes messy.  It sometimes requires a little patience as well.  But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that's been the envy of the world. 

So, I ask everyone to stay calm, all people to stay calm.  The process is working.  The count is being completed, and we'll know very soon.  So, thank you all, for your patience. We have to count the votes.

-- Remarks by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in Wilmington, DE, 5 November 2020

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Count Von Count

Greetings it is I the Count!  They call me the Count because I love to count things!!  HA HA HA!!!

-- Count von Count, on Sesame Street

Monday, November 02, 2020

Consent Of Governors And Governed

Metaphysicians and politicians may dispute forever, but they will never find any other moral principle or foundation of rule or obedience, than the consent of governors and governed.

-- John Adams (1735 - 1826), American lawyer, author, statesman, and diplomat, second President of the United States (1797-1801), and first Vice President (1789-1797), Novanglus essays (1774-1775), No. 7

Friday, October 30, 2020

I Can't Hear It

If someone says, "Democracy is a sham, those people don't speak for me... the system's rigged," you say, "Vote."  Someone says, "I was making a statement by not voting," and then you say, "Well I can't hear it." 

-- Jesse Williams, American actor, director, producer, and activist, in an election PSA posted by super PAC Save the Day on YouTube, 27 September 2016

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Every Vote Counts

The first lesson is this: take it from me -- every vote counts.  In our Democracy, every vote has power.  And never forget: that power is yours.  Don't let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away.  And let's make sure that this time every vote is counted.

-- Former Vice President Al Gore, at the Democratic National Convention, 27 July 2004

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

We Are Not Enemies

We are not enemies, but friends.  We must not be enemies.  Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.  The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

-- Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), 16th President of the United States, First Inaugural Address (4 March 1861)

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Really Disloyal?

Who are those who are really disloyal?  -- Those who inflame racial hatreds, who sow religious and class dissensions.  Those who subvert the Constitution by violating the freedom of the ballot box.  Those who make a mockery of majority rule by the use of the filibuster.  Those who impair democracy by denying equal educational facilities.  Those who frustrate justice by lynch law or by making a farce of jury trials.  Those who deny freedom of speech and of the press and of assembly.  Those who press for special favors against the interest of the commonwealth.  Those who regard public office as a source of private gain.  Those who would exalt the military over the civil.  Those who for selfish and private purposes stir up national antagonisms and expose the world to the ruin of war.

-- Henry Steele Commager (1902 - 1998), American historian and teacher, Who is Loyal to America? (1947)


Monday, October 26, 2020

Burnt Norton

Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,

Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind

Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.


-- Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888 - 1965), American-born English poet, dramatist, and literary critic, The Four Quartets, Burnt Norton (I), Collected Poems 1909–1935 (1936)

Friday, October 23, 2020

Doubling The Value

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day.  By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting.  In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.

-- David Foster Wallace (1962 - 2008), American novelist, essayist, and short story writer, "Up, Simba" (2000)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

An Exchange

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance.

-- Verni Robert Quillen (1887 - 1948), American humorist, as quoted in The School Day Begins : A Guide to Opening Exercises, Grades Kindergarten - 12 (1967) by Agnes Krarup

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Bennu

NASA scientists confirmed Wednesday that the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft successfully made contact with an asteroid a day earlier, touching the surface for six seconds and collecting dust and pebbles from its surface.

The spacecraft's performance at the asteroid Bennu, which is only about as wide as the Empire State Building is tall, was remarkable. Because the asteroid is so small, its gravity is negligible, which complicates orbital maneuvering by the spacecraft around what is, essentially, a rubble pile.

Despite these challenges, at a distance of 320 million kilometers on Tuesday, NASA engineers and scientists programmed a spacecraft to autonomously touch down within a single meter of its target area.

[T]he mission team does not yet know how much material the spacecraft collected. As much as 2kg of dust and rocks will be studied back on Earth when a capsule lands in Utah in 2023.

-- Ars Technica, "NASA reaches out and touches an asteroid 320 million kilometers away", 21 October 2020

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

More Truth

New knowledge is the most valuable commodity on earth.  The more truth we have to work with, the richer we become.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922 - 2007), American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, Breakfast of Champions (1973)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Intellectual Myopia

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage.  Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason.  But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. 

-- John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 – 2006), Canadian-American economist and author, The Age of Uncertainty, Chapter 1, p. 22 (1977)


Friday, October 16, 2020

The Same Enthusiasm

The people of the United States have made their choice, and, of course, I accept that decision but, I have to admit, not with the same enthusiasm that I accepted the decision 4 years ago. I have a deep appreciation of the system, however, that lets people make the free choice about who will lead them for the next 4 years.

About an hour ago I called Governor Reagan in California, and I told him that I congratulated him for a fine victory. I look forward to working closely with him during the next few weeks. We'll have a very fine transition period. I told him I wanted the best one in history. And I then sent him this telegram, and I'll read it to you. "It's now apparent that the American people have chosen you as the next President. I congratulate you and pledge to you our fullest support and cooperation in bringing about an orderly transition of government in the weeks ahead. My best wishes are with you and your family as you undertake the responsibilities that lie before you." And I signed it Jimmy Carter.

This has been a long and hard-fought campaign, as you well know. But we must now come together as a united and a unified people to solve the problems that are still before us, to meet the challenges of a new decade. And I urge all of you to join in with me in a sincere and fruitful effort to support my successor when he undertakes this great responsibility as President of the greatest nation on Earth.

-- President Jimmy Carter, 1980 Presidential Election Remarks on the Outcome of the Election, 4 November 1980

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A Light Ahead

I know it's difficult for so many of us to feel hope in this moment, which seems so incomprehensibly dark.  We are a nation deeply wounded from a liberated virus.  We're struggling with systemic racism.  And we've endured lashing mental abuse, time and again, from the president of the United States.  But it is not a darker moment than what Ike saw when he looked across the English Channel on June 6, 1944 at the continent of Europe, dominated by the Nazis.

So I see a light ahead.  Just days away, a unified and electrified coalition of Americans, coming together like our country did in World War II, standing united to send a message that will be heard around the world to all those who look with expectant hope to the America that led the crusade more than half a century ago: That America has not succumbed to a demagogue and would-be autocrat.  That we have overcome.  And that Donald J. Trump is not who we are.

In just a short time, America will go from its darkest hour to its finest hour.

-- Democratic strategist James Carville, "A Crusade for Something Noble", thebulwark.com, 15 October 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Vote To End Attacks On Science

Instead of thinking about whether to vote Democratic or Republican in the upcoming U.S. election, think about voting to protect science instead of destroying it.

Undercutting science has dangerous repercussions.  New York Times contributor David Leonhardt, analyzing COVID-19 data from the World Bank and Johns Hopkins University, found that as of September 1, if the U.S. had the same rate of COVID-19 deaths as the world average, 145,000 fewer Americans would have died from the disease.

Science, built on facts and evidence-based analysis, is fundamental to a safe and fair America.  Upholding science is not a Democratic or Republican issue.  There are plenty of people in red and blue states across the country who respect and need science.  Industrial innovation, profitable farming, homeland security, a competitive economy and therefore good jobs, all depend on it.  But politicians of different stripes have to get on board to protect science from further demise.

On an individual basis, the most powerful action you can take to protect science is to vote out of office a president who is trying to gut it -- and to encourage people you know to do likewise, especially in the battleground states.  The same applies to the November elections for key U.S. Senate races.  Most senators and representatives do prize facts and evidence-based thinking, yet too many of them remain silent about Trump’s abuse of science.  Their silence is complicity.  For that reason, the November 3 election should be a day of reckoning.

-- The Editors of Scientific American, "On November 3, Vote to End Attacks on Science", 9 October 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

Vital Responsibility

[Justice Scalia's] judicial philosophy was straightforward.  A judge must apply the law as it is written, not as she wishes it were.  Sometimes that approach meant reaching results that he did not like, but as he put it in one of his best known opinions, that is what it means to say that we have a government of laws and not of men.

Courts have a vital responsibility to the rule of law, which is critical to a free society, but courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life.  The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches, elected by and accountable to the people.  The public should not expect courts to do so and courts should not try.  

-- Amy Coney Barrett, in her opening statement at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing, 12 October 2020

Friday, October 09, 2020

People Will Vote

In times of stress and strain, people will vote.

-- Author unknown.  Attributed to parliamentary debates, Great Britain (1857)

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Impostor Syndrome

Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things.  And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn't qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.  On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name.  And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, "I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here?  They've made amazing things.  I just went where I was sent." And I said, "Yes.  But you were the first man on the moon.  I think that counts for something." And I felt a bit better.  Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did.

-- Neil Gaiman (10 November 1960 -), English author of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novels, graphic novels, and comics, remarks on "Imposter syndrome" on Tumblr (12 May 2017)

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Leadership Vacuum

Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world.  This crisis has produced a test of leadership.  With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond.  Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test.  They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy. ...

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences.  Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions.  But this election gives us the power to render judgment.  Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates.  But truth is neither liberal nor conservative.  When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent.  We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.

-- Editorial signed by 34 editors of The New England Journal of Medicine who are United States citizens (one editor is not), "Dying in a Leadership Vacuum", 7 October 2020

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

RIP Eddie Van Halen

I can't believe I'm having to write this, but my father, Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer this morning.

He was the best father I could ever ask for.  Every moment I've shared with him on and off stage was a gift.

My heart is broken and I don't think I'll ever fully recover from this loss.

I love you so much, Pop.

-- Wolf Van Halen, posting on Twitter as @WolfVanHalen, announcing the death of his father, Guitar God Eddie Van Halen (26 January 1955 - 6 October 2020).  I'm so glad to have seen Eddie in concert, and I still remember listening for the first time to the first song ("Runnin' with the Devil") of the first side of the debut Van Halen album.  Love at first listen (h/t Steve Gray for playing that album that day).


[I am not enjoying posting so many trvth obituaries.]

Monday, October 05, 2020

RIP Bob Gibson

[Bob Gibson] won both the National League's Most Valuable Player Award and the Cy Young Award, as the league's best pitcher, in 1968, when he won 22 games, struck out 268 batters, pitched 13 shutouts and posted an earned run average of 1.12, still the lowest since the advent of the lively ball in 1920 and the fourth-lowest in major league history.  The next year, even though Major League Baseball lowered the pitchers' mounds to give batters a break, Gibson won 20 games and struck out 269.

He won at least 20 games five times and struck out 3,117 batters.  He threw 56 career shutouts and captured a second Cy Young Award in 1970.  He was an eight-time All-Star, won a Gold Glove award for fielding nine times and pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971.

Pitching for three pennant-winning Cardinal teams, Gibson won seven World Series games in a row, losing only in his first and last Series starts.  [H]e holds the records for most strikeouts in a World Series game, 17, and in a single World Series, 35, both against the Detroit Tigers in 1968.

He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility.

-- New York Times recap of the career of St Louis Cardinals pitching legend Bob Gibson (9 November 1935 - 2 October 2020), on the occasion of his passing

Friday, October 02, 2020

I Voted

I voted.

I parked my car in front of the courthouse and went in to vote in person.  It was just like voting on election day, except I was at the courthouse instead of my local precinct, and there were no other citizens there, so no lines and no waiting.

Eight minutes after parking I was back in my car, sending a text to my kids telling them how easy it was to vote.

Opportunities and methods of voting vary, mostly by state.  Illinois has early voting from 24 September through Monday 2 November.  My Louisiana daughter tells me they have an early voting window of one weekend, Thursday through Tuesday.  Find out the rules in your area, and plan your vote today.  You can literally google "How to vote".  Then vote today, if you can and you're ready.

Don't forget to vote.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Embrace This

I am going to comment as the CDC director, that face masks, these face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have.  And I will continue to appeal for all Americans, all individuals in our country, to embrace these face coverings.  I've said it, if we did it for six, eight, 10, 12 weeks, we'd bring this pandemic under control.

These actually, we have clear, scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense.  I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because the immunogenicity may be 70%.  And if I don't get an immune response to vaccine, it's not going to protect me.  This face mask will.  So, I do want to keep asking the American public to take the responsibility, particularly the 18 to 25 year olds, where we're seeing the outbreak in America continue to go like this.  Because we haven't got the acceptance to personal responsibility that we need for all Americans to embrace this face mask.

-- CDC Director Robert Redfield testifying before the Senate on the coronavirus response, 16 September 2020

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

RIP Helen Reddy

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

-- Helen Maxine Reddy (25 October 1941 - 29 September 2020), Australian-American singer, songwriter, and actress.  I Am Woman (1971)


[I confess, Helen Reddy was one of the first live concerts I saw at the UI Assembly Hall, apparently 8 February 1975]

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Unanswerable Arguments

I never knew any debatable point not maintained on both sides by unanswerable arguments.

-- Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 - 1838), English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L. E. L., Romance and Reality (1831), Vol. II, Chapter 21

Monday, September 28, 2020

Nothing. Zero.

Hannity: Now everybody keeps saying down at Occupy Wall Street, the 1% -- which I'm sure you're a part of -- doesn't pay any taxes.  Do you not pay any taxes?  I didn't know that.

Trump: No, I pay tax.  I pay a lot of tax.  I just signed a big fat check recently for a lot of tax.  I paid literally, I paid a lot of tax and you know, look, I don't mind.  I'm proud to pay it up.  If I owe it, I pay it.

The amazing thing is that half of the country is paying nothing.  Zero.  And even if you don't make a lot, you should have to pay something.  Just something to be a part of the game.  Half of the country's paying nothing.

-- Donald Trump, in a 2011 radio interview with conservative host Sean Hannity, as quoted by CNN.  It was recently revealed that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000