Thursday, December 29, 2005


Congratulations and best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Dan LaBerge on their wedding day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Stopping Place

Of any stopping place in life, it is good to ask whether it will be a good place from which to go on as well as a good place to remain.

-- Mary Catherine Bateson

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

True Religion

True religion is the life we lead, not the creed we profess.

-- Louis Nizer, lawyer (1902-1994)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Commercial Exploitation

Be it religion, love under all its forms, literature, or art, there is not a single spiritual force that does not become an object of commercial exploitation.

-- Etienne Gilson

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Santa Claus

I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph.

-- Shirley Temple

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Going To Church

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car.

-- Laurence J. Peter, 1919 - 1990

Monday, December 19, 2005

It Should Never Come To That

I'm glad to see Congress push through Senator McCain's prohibition against torture. While I don't expect it to provide any protection for our troops with respect to our current adversary, it's necessary for two major reasons. First, the United States should be above such tactics, regardless of the nature of the enemy. Second, torture (or abusive interrogation techniques of any kind) are an instance of punishment prior to adjudication. Due process is the key to any system that seeks to mete out actual justice. This was clearly demonstrated in the case of the German citizen, Khaled El-Masri, who was kidnapped by the CIA and interrogated for 5 months in an extra-judicial prison in Afghanistan. This proved to be a case of mistaken identity, as the victim of this "extraordinary rendition" merely shared the name of the person sought. Without the oversight of the courts and some semblance of due process, any number of innocent people could be swept up and "disappeared" by the government. In America, it should never come to that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers

Onward, moderate Christian soldiers
John C. Danforth, The New York Times

ST. LOUIS, Missouri It would be an oversimplification to say that America's culture wars are now between people of faith and nonbelievers. People of faith are not of one mind, whether on specific issues like stem cell research and government intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, or the more general issue of how religion relates to politics.

In recent years, conservative Christians have presented themselves as representing the one authentic Christian perspective on politics. With due respect for our conservative friends, equally devout Christians come to very different conclusions.

It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.

People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda to do so.

Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgment of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers.

But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.

When, on television, we see a person in a persistent vegetative state, one who will never recover, we believe that allowing the natural and merciful end to her ordeal is more loving than imposing government power to keep her hooked up to a feeding tube.

When we see an opportunity to save our neighbors' lives through stem cell research, we believe that it is our duty to pursue that research, and to oppose legislation that would impede us from doing so.

We think that efforts to haul references of God into the public square, into schools and courthouses, are far more apt to divide Americans than to advance faith.

Following a Lord who reached out in compassion to all human beings, we oppose amending the Constitution in a way that would humiliate homosexuals.

For us, living the Love Commandment may be at odds with efforts to encapsulate Christianity in a political agenda. We strongly support the separation of church and state, both because that principle is essential to holding together a diverse country, and because the policies of the state always fall short of the demands of faith. Aware that even our most passionate ventures into politics are efforts to carry the treasure of religion in the earthen vessel of government, we proceed in a spirit of humility lacking in our conservative colleagues.

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two.

To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that only I know God's will, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility. By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth.

We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.

Christians who hold these convictions ought to add their clear voice of moderation to the debate on religion in politics.

(John C. Danforth is an Episcopal minister and a former Republican senator from Missouri.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

God's Promise

God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.

-- Augustine of Hippo, 354 - 430

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

You Can Pretend

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.

-- Sacha Guitry

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Had A Life

I had some great things and I had some bad things. The best and the worst ... in other words, I had a life.

-- Richard Pryor (December 1, 1940 - December 10, 2005), American actor and comedian

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Unknown

The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown, and it's plain sailing.

-- John Lennon, October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Achievement Vs. Success

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others. That is nice but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success.

-- Helen Hayes

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Man Vs. Trvth

The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.

-- Rebecca West

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.

-- George Santayana

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bite Me

Never break up a dog fight with your face.

-- Don Appleman, 11/29/05

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mind Is The Forerunner

Mind is the forerunner of (all evil) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with wicked mind, suffering follows one, even as the wheel follows the hoof of the draught-ox.

Mind is the forerunner of (all good) states. Mind is chief; mind-made are they. If one speaks or acts with pure mind, affection follows one, even as one's shadow that never leaves.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Beginning And Ending

Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Secret Of Existence

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Buddha On Truth

The truth cures our diseases and redeems us from perdition; the truth strengthens us in life and in death; the truth alone can conquer the evils of error.

-- Buddha (B.C. 568-488)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.

-- William Arthur Ward

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Matters Of Opinion

In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane.

-- Oscar Wilde

Monday, November 21, 2005

Taken For Granted

People often cannot see what they take for granted until they encounter someone who does not take it for granted.

-- "Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences," (MIT Press, 1999), by UC-San Diego communications professors Geoffrey C. Bowker and Susan Leigh Star)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Outlaw Privacy

If privacy is outlawed, only outlaws will have privacy.

-- Phil Zimmermann, cryptographer (1954- )

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.

-- John Perry Barlow

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Cure For Boredom

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

-- Ellen Parr

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Wheel Goes Round

The wheel goes round and round, some are up and some are on the down, and still the wheel goes round.

-- Josephine Pollard (1843-1892, American poet)

Monday, November 14, 2005

No More Fatal Blunderer

There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.

-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American essayist, poet, naturalist)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lessons Not Learned

The Soviet concept for military occupation of Afghanistan was based on the following:

* stabilizing the country by garrisoning the main routes, major cities, airbases and logistics sites;
* relieving the Afghan government forces of garrison duties and pushing them into the countryside to battle the resistance;
* providing logistic, air, artillery and intelligence support to the Afghan forces;
* providing minimum interface between the Soviet occupation forces and the local populace;
* accepting minimal Soviet casualties; and,
* strengthening the Afghan forces, so once the resistance was defeated, the Soviet Army could be withdrawn.

-- General (Ret) Mohammad Yahya Nawroz, Army of Afghanistan, and Lester W. Grau, Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in "The Soviet War in Afghanistan: History and Harbinger of Future War?" (June 1996)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

American Idiot

American Idiot -- by Green Day (sorry, I lack specific writing credits)

Don't want to be an American idiot.
Don't want a nation under the new media.
And can you hear the sound of hysteria?
The subliminal mindfuck America.

[refrain] Welcome to a new kind of tension.
All across the alien nation.
Everything isn't meant to be okay.
Television dreams of tomorrow.
We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
Well that's enough to argue.

Well maybe I'm the faggot America.
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along in the age of paranoia.


Don't want to be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information age of hysteria.
It's going out to idiot America.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Geological Consent

Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.

-- Will Durant

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Torture This

No individual in the custody or under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

-- Key phrase in Senator John McCain's anti-torture amendment to the Senate's defense spending bill, threatened with veto by President Bush

[The measure] shall not apply with respect to clandestine counterterrorism operations conducted abroad, with respect to terrorists who are not citizens of the United States, that are carried out by an element of the United States government other than the Department of Defense and are consistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States and treaties to which the United States is a party, if the President determines that such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack.

-- Exemption to the McCain amendment being pushed by VP Dick Cheney

Monday, November 07, 2005

As Certain About Anything

As I stood before the gates I realized that I never want to be as certain about anything as were the people who built this place.

-- Rabbi Sheila Peltz, on her visit to Auschwitz

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Small Things

Often we allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should despise and forget. We lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over grievances that, in a year's time, will be forgotten by us and by everybody. No, let us devote our life to worthwhile actions and feelings, to great thoughts, real affections, and enduring undertakings.

-- Andre Maurois (1885-1967), French Writer

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cherish What Makes You Unique

Cherish forever what makes you unique, 'cuz you're really a yawn if it goes!

-- Bette Midler (1945-) American singer, entertainer, actress

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Sam intends to go to law school and eventually warm a seat on the Supreme Court.

-- 1972 Princeton Yearbook, regarding Supreme Court nominee Sam Alito

Monday, October 31, 2005


It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.

-- Sir Josiah Stamp (1880-1941)

Friday, October 28, 2005


C'est plus qu'un crime, c'est une faute (it's worse thana crime, it's a blunder).

-- Charles de Talleyrand, 18th Century French statesman

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Thing That Sustains

The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated.

-- Oscar Wilde, "The Remarkable Rocket"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Find The Strangest Thing

In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it.

-- John A. Wheeler, American theoretical physicist (1911-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

RIP Rosa

It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn't feel like obeying his demand ... I was quite tired after spending a full day working.

-- Rosa Parks (February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005)

Monday, October 24, 2005

Sea Of Ignorance

We live on an island surrounded by a sea of ignorance. As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.

-- John A. Wheeler, American theoretical physicist (1911-)

Friday, October 21, 2005

Find Something Strange

If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.

-- John A. Wheeler, American theoretical physicist (1911-)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Dangerous Patriot

The dangerous patriot ... drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions.

-- Colonel James A. Donovan, USMC

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sick In America

You can't just be sick. You have to be sick and be drowning in paperwork.

-- Ellen Mayer of Chester, NY, who has gastrointestinal cancer, New York Times, October 13, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

Manufacture Of Consent

The manufacture of consent ... was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy ... but it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technique ... Under the impact of propaganda, it is no longer plausible to believe in the original dogma of democracy.

-- Walter Lippman

Friday, October 14, 2005

Very Nice

Oh, a sleeping drunkard
Up in Central Park,
And a lion-hunter
In the jungle dark,
And a Chinese dentist,
And a British queen --
All fit together
In the same machine.
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice;
Nice, nice, very nice --
So many different people
In the same device.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What We Pretend To Be

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. "Mother Night" (1961)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Unquestioning Faith

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. "Mother Night" (1961)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Please Notice

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is."

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. "Knowing What's Right", In These Times, 2003

Monday, October 10, 2005

Don't Be Reckless

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts, And don't put up with people that are reckless with yours.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Liberal Or Conservative

Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, "Cold Turkey", In These Times, May 10, 2004

Thursday, October 06, 2005

RIP Nipsey

The genius who created me only took care of my dashing good looks, my razor sharp wit, and my irresistible attraction to the wrong women.

-- Nipsey Russell (1924-2005) as the Tinman, in The Wiz

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

No Criticism

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A New Population

When 25 percent of the population believe that the president should be impeached and 51 percent believe in UFOs, you may or may not need a new president, but you definitely need a new population.

-- Harry Reasoner (1923-1991), American journalist and news commentator

Monday, October 03, 2005


Were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults in the first.

-- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American scientist, publisher, diplomat

Friday, September 30, 2005

Hot Lead

US Forced To Import Bullets From Israel As Troops Use 250,000 For Every Rebel Killed - Andrew Buncombe (Independent, September 25, 2005)

US forces have fired so many bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan -- an estimated 250,000 for every insurgent killed -- that American ammunition-makers cannot keep up with demand. As a result the US is having to import supplies from Israel.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Saying What We Think

Saying what we think gives us a wider conversational range than saying what we know.

-- Cullen Hightower

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Support The Troops

You can support the troops but not the president.

-- Representative Tom Delay (R-TX) on Clinton's actions in Bosnia

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Swing Again

We will swing again in that place.

-- Kermit Ruffins, a trumpeter, on New Orleans, New York Times, Monday, September 26, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

RIP Don Adams

I may never get to play with the Philharmonic, but on the other hand, is Leonard Bernstein licensed to kill?

-- Don Adams (April 13, 1923 - September 25, 2005) as Agent Maxwell Smart, "Get Smart"

Friday, September 23, 2005


They said today that we should stock up on canned goods. So I went out and bought a case of beer.

-- John Gretchen III, preparing for a hurricane, 1984

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sharing Religious Views

People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

-- Dave Barry, author and columnist (1947- )

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Example Of Nonconformity

In this age, the mere example of nonconformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service.

-- John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nuke Em

... In an article in the Asia Times, independent journalist Jim Lobe interviews Ivan Oelrich, of the Federation for American Scientists, who says one of the things that concerns him about the [draft Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations plan] is the way that it conflates several different levels of threats into one form of WMD threat.

"What we are seeing now is an effort to lay the foundations for the legitimacy of using nuclear weapons if [the administration] suspects another country might use chemical weapons against us," he said. "Iraq is a perfect example of how this doctrine might actually work; it was a country where we were engaged militarily and thought it would deploy chemical weapons against us."

Philip Giraldi, former CIA analyst and member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote in The American Conservative last month that Vice President Dick Cheney's office has requested the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) to draw up a plan to respond to another "9/11 type attack on the US."

The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing--that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack--but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Taking Stock Of The Forever War

Instead of fighting the real war that was thrust upon us on that incomprehensible morning four years ago, we stubbornly insisted on fighting a war of the imagination, an ideological struggle that we defined not by frankly appraising the real enemy before us but by focusing on the mirror of our own obsessions. And we have finished -- as the escalating numbers of terrorist attacks, the grinding Iraq insurgency, the overstretched American military and the increasing political dissatisfaction at home show -- by fighting precisely the kind of war they wanted us to fight.

-- Mark Danner, Taking Stock of the Forever War, New York Times, September 11, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005


Morality, I suppose, is the wisdom that prevents sacrificing long-term happiness for short-term happiness.

-- Gerald M. Weinberg, Understanding the Professional Programmer, 1988

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Inevitability

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.

-- Marshall McLuhan

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what's really going on to be scared.

-- P.J. Plauger, Computer Language Magazine, March 1983

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Paid For Our Suspicions

There is no rule more invariable than that we are paid for our suspicions by finding what we suspect.

-- Henry David Thoreau, naturalist and author (1817-1862)

Monday, September 12, 2005

For Every Credibility Gap

For every credibility gap, there is a gullibility fill.

-- Richard Clopton

Friday, September 09, 2005

A Modern Atlantis

Direct Hit in New Orleans Could Mean a Modern Atlantis

More than 1.2 million people in metropolitan New Orleans were warned to get out Tuesday as [the] 140-mph hurricane churned toward the Gulf coast, threatening to submerge this below-sea-level city in what could be the most disastrous storm to hit in nearly 40 years.

-- Headline & opening paragraph, USA Today, September 14, 2004 as Hurricane Ivan approached New Orleans

The evacuation of New Orleans in the face of [the] hurricane ... looked sinisterly like Strom Thurmond's version of the Rapture. Affluent white people fled the Big Easy in their SUVs, while the old and car-less -- mainly Black -- were left behind in their below-sea-level shotgun shacks and aging tenements to face the watery wrath.

-- Mike Davis, TomDispatch (, September, 2004

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Misery & Ignorance

We live in a world which is full of misery and ignorance, and the plain duty of each and all of us is to try to make the little corner he can influence somewhat less miserable and somewhat less ignorant than it was before he entered it.

-- Thomas Huxley (1825-1895)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ragamuffin, Barefoot Irreverence

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.

-- Jacob Bronowski [The Ascent of Man] (1908-1974)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Never Despair

Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.

-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Nothing More Weak Than Water

In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.

-- Lao Tzu

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Growing Up

Growing up is giving up.

-- Graffitist Borf; cited in Libby Copeland, "The Mark of Borf: with Graffitist's Arrest, Police Put a Name to the Familiar Face" (Washington Post, July 14, 2005)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Examine The Service

If things are not going well with you, begin your effort at correcting the situation by carefully examining the service you are rendering, and especially the spirit in which you are rendering it.

-- Roger Babson (1875-1967, American statistician, columnist)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Energy will be one of the defining issues of this century. One thing is clear: the era of easy oil is over. What we all do next will determine how well we meet the energy needs of the entire world in this century and beyond.

Demand is soaring like never before. As populations grow and economies take off, millions in the developing world are enjoying the benefits of a lifestyle that requires increasing amounts of energy. In fact, some say that in 20 years the world will consume 40% more oil than it does today. At the same time, many of the world's oil and gas fields are maturing. And new energy discoveries are mainly occurring in places where resources are difficult to extract, physically, economically and even politically. When growing demand meets tighter supplies, the result is more competition for the same resources.

We can wait until a crisis forces us to do something. Or we can commit to working together ... Whatever actions we take, we must look not just to next year, but to the next 50 years.

-- Text from a new ad campaign from Chevron @

Monday, August 29, 2005

Describe Things

If you describe things as better than they are, you are considered to be a romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you will be called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you will be thought of as a satirist.

-- Quentin Crisp, "The Naked Civil Servant"

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Real Test Of Power

Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but capacity to prevent it.

-- Anne O'Hare McCormick

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What We Do Not Want To Know

Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.

-- Eric Hoffer

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Winds That Blow

The winds that blow our billions away return burdened with themes of scorn and dispraise.

-- Garet Garrett

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Too Much Certainty

I am certain there is too much certainty in the world.

-- Michael Crichton, State of Fear

Monday, August 22, 2005

Tales Of Successful Violence

No society that feeds its children on tales of successful violence can expect them not to believe that violence in the end is rewarded.

-- Margaret Mead, anthropologist (1901-1978)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Marriage Vows

You will reciprocally promise love, loyalty, and matrimonial honesty. We only want for you this day that these words constitute the principle of your entire life and that with the help of divine grace you will observe these solemn vows that today, before God, you formulate.

-- Pope John Paul II

On the occasion of my first "Used to be my anniversary, but isn't anymore".

Thursday, August 18, 2005

However Scrupulously Concealed

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

When I read this recently, the image that jumped into my mind was someone pumping gas into an SUV, with the Middle East as the slaughterhouse.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

No Sufficient Reason

If there is no sufficient reason for war, the war party will make war on one pretext, then invent another ... after the war is on.

-- Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855-1925)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

In Times Of Peace

In times of peace, the war party insists on making preparations for war. As soon as prepared for, it insists on making war.

-- Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855-1925)

Monday, August 15, 2005

War Party

Every nation has its war party. It is not the party of democracy. It is the party of autocracy. It seeks to dominate absolutely.

-- Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855-1925)

Friday, August 12, 2005

It's A Dry Heat

In Iraq, it's a dry heat. And the language that none of our troops or diplomats speak is Arabic rather than Vietnamese.

-- Daniel Ellsberg

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Iran v Iraq?

It is true that weapons clearly, unambiguously from Iran have been found in Iraq.

-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, August, 2005

If this claim is true, with its clear implication that the Iranian government is supporting Iraqi insurgents, can someone tell me why the Iranians would support a largely Sunni Iraqi insurgency against an allied, mainly Shiite government?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Making A Graceful Exit

General Casey, the US commander in Iraq, will announce at an opportune moment before the November 2006 US elections that "Iraqization" has reached a point where he can begin the troop withdrawals that he previewed with Secretary Rumsfeld in Baghdad on July 27. The conservative media conglomerates on which ordinary Americans depend for news will judge Iraq's civil war no longer newsworthy, since US troops are officially not involved. When the carnage becomes too gruesome to ignore, the President will explain that it was the Iraqi politicians, not America's brave soldiers, who had failed. The American people will believe because Bush himself will believe.

-- John Brady Kiesling, freelance writer and former political counselor at the US embassy in Athens. Excerpted from an article in the Athens News, August 5, 2005, page 9

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Reason Is A Verb

Many are destined to reason wrongly; others, not to reason at all; and others, to persecute those who do reason.

-- Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire (1694-1778, French historian, writer)

Monday, August 08, 2005


science [Lat. scientia=knowledge]. For many the term science refers to the organized body of knowledge concerning the physical world, both animate and inanimate, but a proper definition would also have to include the attitudes and methods through which this body of knowledge is formed; thus, a science is both a particular kind of activity and also the results of that activity.

The Scientific Method
The scientific method has evolved over many centuries and has now come to be described in terms of a well-recognized and well-defined series of steps. First, information, or data, is gathered by careful observation of the phenomenon being studied. On the basis of that information a preliminary generalization, or hypothesis, is formed, usually by inductive reasoning, and this in turn leads by deductive logic to a number of implications that may be tested by further observations and experiments (see induction; deduction). If the conclusions drawn from the original hypothesis successfully meet all these tests, the hypothesis becomes accepted as a scientific theory or law; if additional facts are in disagreement with the hypothesis, it may be modified or discarded in favor of a new hypothesis, which is then subjected to further tests. Even an accepted theory may eventually be overthrown if enough contradictory evidence is found, as in the case of Newtonian mechanics, which was shown after more than two centuries of acceptance to be an approximation valid only for speeds much less than that of light.

Role of Measurement and Experiment
All of the activities of the scientific method are characterized by a scientific attitude, which stresses rational impartiality. Measurement plays an important role, and when possible the scientist attempts to test his theories by carefully designed and controlled experiments that will yield quantitative rather than qualitative results. Theory and experiment work together in science, with experiments leading to new theories that in turn suggest further experiments. Although these methods and attitudes are generally shared by scientists, they do not provide a guaranteed means of scientific discovery; other factors, such as intuition, experience, good
judgment, and sometimes luck, also contribute to new developments in science.

Columbia University Press,

Friday, August 05, 2005

Intelligent Design

Intelligent Design: Why limit equal time to biology class?
Salt Lake Tribune 8/05/2005

President Bush has thrown in with those who think that an idea called "intelligent design" should be taught alongside evolution in the nation's schools.

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," the president told some visiting newspaper reporters from his native Texas.

OK. But why stop there?

While the science teacher is at it, he might make the study of astronomy more poetic by including the theory that the sun is not a frighteningly impersonal thermonuclear furnace but actually the flaming chariot of Phoebus Apollo streaking across the sky.

Or he might calm the students' fears of being adrift in a soulless universe by casting aside all this Copernican nonsense and admitting that, as any fool can see just by looking up, the Earth stands still and the sun, moon and stars revolve around us, er, it.

History? Make sure all those open-minded students hear that we never landed on the moon, President Kennedy was killed by the CIA and the Nazis couldn't possibly have killed 6 million Jews.

Seriously, are all those alternative ideas to be banned from the public consciousness? Of course not. They might even be discussed in school, if there's time.

But given the limited time and resources of our schools, and the sometimes minuscule attention span of our students, we need to make sure we don't lose our focus.

In science class, focus on established science.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gathering Honey

If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.

-- Dale Carnegie (1888-1955, American Trainer, author, "How to Win Friends and Influence People")

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Kill A Story

Kill a story before it kills you.

-- A simple rule in politics, according to journalists Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen; cited in their "In Plame Leaks, Long Shadows: Rove Knew of CIA Agent, Husband's Role in Criticizing Bush" (Washington Post, July 17, 2005)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Boredom: the desire for desires.

-- Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, 1828-1910

Monday, August 01, 2005

Smooth & Easy War

Never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.

-- Sir Winston Churchill

Friday, July 29, 2005

Unpatriotic & Cowardly

Before the war is ended, the war party assumes the divine right to denounce and silence all opposition to war as unpatriotic and cowardly.

-- Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855-1925)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

An End To IRA Violence?

The leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA) has formally ordered an end to the armed campaign.

This will take effect from 4 p.m. this afternoon. All IRA units have been ordered to dump arms. All volunteers have been instructed to assist the development of purely political and democratic programs through exclusively peaceful means.

-- Excerpt from the Irish Republican Army statement of July 28, 2005, announcing an end to its armed campaign against British rule in Northern Ireland

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Commander In Chief

One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief ... My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade ..., if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency.

-- Texas Governor George W. Bush, 1999

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

War Without Censorship

Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.

-- General William C. Westmoreland (1914-2005)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Vive le Tour

Vive le Tour. Forever.

-- Lance Armstrong, Sunday, July 24, 2005, upon winning the Tour de France for a seventh time, before retiring from competition

Friday, July 22, 2005

Short, Decisive War

The belief in the possibility of a short, decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.

-- Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Depressing View Of War

Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.

-- Donald Rumsfeld

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ultimate Freedom

Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.

-- Stephen Covey

Monday, July 18, 2005

Only Two Modes

We have only two modes - complacency and panic.

-- James R. Schlesinger, the first energy secretary, in 1977, on the US approach to energy. Cited in New York Times, 7/12/05

Friday, July 15, 2005


reckless (rk'ls) adj. Heedless or careless. Headstrong; rash. Indifferent to or disregardful of consequences: a reckless driver.

[Middle English reckeles, from Old English receleas.]
reck'lessly adv.
reck'lessness n.

SYNONYMS reckless, rash, precipitate, foolhardy, temerarious. These adjectives mean given to or marked by unthinking boldness. Reckless suggests wild carelessness and disregard for consequences: conceiving measures to protect the fur-bearing animals from reckless slaughter
(Getrude Atherton). Rash implies haste, impetuousness, and insufficient consideration: Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash (George S. Patton). Precipitate connotes headlong haste without due deliberation: destroyed in a precipitate burning of his papers a few days before his death (James Boswell). Foolhardy implies injudicious or imprudent boldness: a foolhardy attempt to wrest the gun from the mugger. Temerarious suggests reckless presumption: this temerarious foeman who dared intervene between himself [the elephant] and his intended victim (Edgar Rice Burroughs).

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Congratulations to my big fat black cat Dude for attaining the age of 17 years as of 7/9/2005. The oldest cat I've ever owned, and still going strong.

He was born behind the couch in the apartment I shared with then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) Melody in Lakeside, CA, in 1988 on the same day that I flew to Illinois to check on job prospects that soon led to my return to Illinois from a 3-year stint in San Diego.

His father was my cat, "Tranch" (short for Tarantula, a name given by a friend who was amused by the long white hairs that stood out through his otherwise smooth black coat); his mother was Melody's cat Gizmo (who earlier survived a near-fatal encounter with a car, and had pins in her leg). On that same morning, my female cat Jasper & Melody's male cat JYC (Junkyard Cat) had a litter under the dishwasher that included Misty, who passed away in February of '04.

Dude & Misty were the 2 kittens that we brought with us from California when we moved. He's older than 3 of my kids (one of whom has her driver's license), and remains the alpha male in a 5-cat household.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The World Gets Better

The world gets better. It also gets worse. The time it will take you to address this is exactly equal to your lifetime, and if you're lucky you don't know how long that is. The future is dark. Like night. There are probabilities and likelihoods, but there are no guarantees.

-- Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (which developed from this piece) and 7 other books.

Originally published at

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Only Bible

Be careful how you live. You may be the only bible some people ever read.

-- Unknown

Monday, July 11, 2005

Let Us Not Look Back In Anger

Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.

-- James Thurber

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tyrants & Religion

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious.

-- Aristotle

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Fear Is The Mind Killer

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

-- Frank Herbert, Dune - The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Execute Your Ideas

If you don't execute your ideas, they die.

-- Roger von Oech, author and consultant

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


We could learn a lot from crayons: Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but we have to learn how to live in the same box.

-- Author Unknown

Friday, July 01, 2005

Only Way To Achieve Happiness

There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.

-- Ogden Nash, 1902 - 1971

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rightful Liberty

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

-- Thomas Jefferson, third US president, architect, and author (1743-1826)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

No Care But For Themselves

There will always be a part, and always a very large part of every community, that have no care but for themselves, and whose care for themselves reaches little further than impatience of immediate pain, and eagerness for the nearest good.

-- Samuel Johnson, Taxation No Tyranny

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Procrastination is my sin.
It brings me naught but sorrow.
I know that I should stop it.
In fact, I will -- tomorrow!

-- Gloria Pitzer

Monday, June 27, 2005


An attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle went sour Tuesday when a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple thawed faster than expected, flooding Manhattan's Union Square. Firefighters closed streets and used hoses to wash away the kiwi-strawberry-flavored liquid. The colossal snack was erected by Snapple to promote its new line of frozen goodies. Snapple official Lauren Radcliffe said it was unlikely the company would try for the record (21 feet, Holland, 1997) again. [with photo, story near the bottom]

-- Korin Miller (Names & Places, Washington Post, June 23, 2005)

Friday, June 24, 2005

My Country Right Or Wrong

I don't want anyone to think that because I live in the US I believe that everything my country does is right.

"My country right or wrong" is both unpatriotic (not faithful to one's country), and un-American (not faithful to the ideals of the founding fathers). Those who don't see that are destroying what this country is, has been, and should be.

Every Act Of Conscious Learning

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem. That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily; and why older persons, especially if vain or important, cannot learn at all.

-- Thomas Szasz, author, professor of psychiatry (1920- )

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Born In The USA

Being born in the elite in the U.S. gives you a constellation of privileges that very few people in the world have ever experienced. Being born poor in the U.S. gives you disadvantages unlike anything in Western Europe and Japan and Canada.

-- David I. Levine, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, May 2005

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Men Think In Herds

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

-- Charles Mackay

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Monday, June 20, 2005

Rest Is Not Idleness

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

-- Sir John Lubbock

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Wrong Questions

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers.

-- Thomas Pynchon, writer (1937- )

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

-- Jeremy Bentham, jurist and philosopher (1748-1832)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

-- Ambrose Bierce, writer (1842-1914) [The Devil's Dictionary]

Monday, June 13, 2005

Characteristic Human Trait

Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told -- and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare ... Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion.

-- Michael Crichton

Friday, June 10, 2005

Experiments & Questions

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions -- as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.

-- Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, section 41

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

True Hypocrite

The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.

-- French writer Andre Gide; cited in Richard Macintosh, "'Un-American' Questions" (Swans, CA)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Shepherd & The Sheep

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.

-- Stendal (Marie Henri Beyle), novelist (1783-1842)

Monday, June 06, 2005

I Am, Indeed, A King

I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.

- Pietro Aretino, satirist and dramatist (1492-1556)

Friday, June 03, 2005


If I didn't have writing, I'd be running down the street hurling grenades in people's faces.

-- Paul Fussell

Thursday, June 02, 2005

How Things Work

Nobody can understand how all technology works. But it always surprises me how so many people can go through life in delightful ignorance, not only unaware of why their car moves forward or there is sound in the radio, but not even being curious about it. It is not hard to find out how things work. Gone are the days of wiring diagrams and complex mathematical formulae. You can find excellent explanations, helpful graphics and animation schemes describing how many common technologies work.

But no. People want to press a button and just have it done. And therein lies the problem. If you don't know how things work, you don't know what is hard. So you invest in natural language systems (speech recognition has been a promising technology for 30 years) or systems that can predict the stock market. Or you go out and spend a fortune on pyramid schemes or magnet therapy. And wander through life, "mouth agape in doltish wonder," to quote Paul Fussell.

-- Espen Andersen, The S-Curves of Sinks, and Technology, "Ubiquity", Volume 6, Issue 19 (June 1-8, 2005)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Most People Are Other People

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.

-- Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 27, 2005

Not A Nationalist

I love my country too much to be a nationalist.

-- Albert Camus, writer, philosopher, Nobel laureate (1913-1960)

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune in to.

-- Wayne Dyer (1940-, American psychotherapist, author, lecturer)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Memory is a bomb. Memory is a balm.

-- Renato Redentor, in his "Constantino: The Colors of Memory: Black-and-Blue World"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Desk

A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.

-- John le Carre

Monday, May 23, 2005

Those Who Were Seen Dancing

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

-- Friedrich Wilhem Nietzsche, philosopher (1844-1900)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Media, Not Journalism

The young are voracious consumers of media, but not of journalism. Sixty-eight percent of children 8 to 18 have televisions in their rooms; 33 percent have computers. And if they could have only one entertainment medium, a third would choose the computer, a quarter would choose television. They carry their media around with them: 79 percent of young people ages 8 to 18 have portable CD, tape or MP3 players. Fifty-five percent have hand-held video game players. Sony's PlayStation Portable, which plays music, games and movies, sold more than 500,000 units in the first two days after its March debut.

-- George F. Will (Washington Post, April 24, 2005)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Downing Street Memo

Excerpts from the text of the "Downing Street Memo" --

From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02

cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Where I Intended

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

-- Douglas Adams

Monday, May 16, 2005

Friday, May 13, 2005

Think! Believe!

The few have said, "Think!" The many have said, "Believe!"

-- Robert G. Ingersoll

Thursday, May 12, 2005

We Are What We Think

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.

-- Buddha

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Cogito Ergo Sum

I think, therefore I am. However, inanimate objects do not think. Therefore, they are not.

What I am and what they are not had not been determined at press time.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Nearest Way To Glory

The nearest way to glory is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be.

-- Socrates (quoted by Cicero)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Look Younger

The only real way to look younger is not to be born so soon.

-- Charles Schulz, cartoonist (1922-2000)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Living Proof

Older generations are living proof that younger generations can survive their lunacy.

-- Cullen Hightower

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Rules & Exceptions

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1809-1894

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

When I Was Younger

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened. It is sad to go to pieces like this but we all have to do it.

-- Mark Twain, 1835-1910

Monday, May 02, 2005

Friday, April 29, 2005

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Little Worse, A Little Cheaper

There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.

-- John Rushkin

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Rule By Law

It is this system, consistently applied, which protects the governed from those who govern and defends the weak against the strong. It is the shield of the poor against the advantages of wealth and the armor of the average citizen against the aggressions of the powerful. No person is so big that he is above the law, and none so insignificant that he cannot look to it for protection.

It is this system, rule by law, that enables each of us to go about his daily business, enter into agreements with others, establish homes, raise families, and plan for the future, secure in the knowledge that the business and the property which were his this morning will be his tonight, and that the legal rights and duties which governed his decisions today will be unchanged tomorrow. It is this principle, when applied to international affairs, which offers the brightest hope for world peace.

-- Attorney French Fraker (1914-2005), Urbana, IL, May 1, 1960

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

This Time

Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me.

-- Pope Benedict XVI, referring to God's choice of him as the Catholic Church's pontiff; cited in Daniela Petroff, "Benedict Says He Prayed Not to Be Elected" (Chicago Tribune, April 26)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Good Can Be As Communicable As Evil

It comes down to the value of examples, which can be either positive or negative, and it works like this: Because of the principle that a calm sea and prosperous voyage do not make news but a shipwreck does, most circulated news is bad news. The badness of it is publicized, and the negative publicity attracts more of the same through repetition and imitation.

But good can be as communicable as evil, and that is where kindness and compassion come into play. So long as conscionable and caring people are around, so long as they are not muted or exiled, so long as they remain alert in thought and action, there is a chance for contagions of the right stuff.

-- Norman Corwin, "This I Believe", NPR Morning Edition, April 25, 2005

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Lance vs. TdF

One final one, and then I stop.

-- Lance Armstrong, on the Tour de France, April 18, 2005

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Safety Labels

The problem with America is stupidity. I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity, but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

-- Xterm, quote #4753,

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

An Apartment Complex Near You

There are 600,000 Americans leaving prison in the next few years, and those guys are all coming to an apartment complex near you.

-- Howard H. Hendrick, human services director at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Oklahoma, explaining the effort to teach felons to be good spouses, New York Times, April, 2005

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Friday, April 15, 2005


Pervading nationalism imposes its dominion on man today in many different forms and with an aggressiveness that spares no one. The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery.

-- Pope John Paul II

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Best Measure of a Man's Honesty

The best measure of a man's honesty isn't his tax return. It's the zero adjust on his bathroom scale.

-- Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

M. C. Escher on Drugs & Dreams

I don't use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.

-- Maurits Cornelius Escher (1898-1972)

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The World is Divided

The world is divided into people who think that they're right.

-- Deidre McGrath

Monday, April 11, 2005

As Far as the Customer is Concerned

As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product.

-- Jef Raskin, credited with conceiving the Apple MacIntosh

I had fallen well behind in reading my daily updates from SlashDot and was trying to catch up when I came across mention that Jef Raskin died 26 February, 2005. Although his opinions have of late been treated as irrelevant, and he has gained a reputation as a "crotchety old man", there is no doubt that he was a very creative fellow who contributed much to both the design of computer hardware and software, and to our knowledge of how that design work should be approached. I read his The Humane Interface when it came out, and found it to be enlightening (casting light where before there had been shadow which obscured not only what was to be seen, but the fact that something was there to be seen).

You can learn more about Jef Raskin and his teachings by visiting The Jef Raskin Center for Humane Interfaces. Be sure to check out the Archy project and the Zooming User Interface Demo while you're there.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Not to be Absolutely Certain

Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.

-- Bertrand Russell, "Am I an Atheist or an Agnostic?", 1947

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Anybody Can Be Pope

Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.

-- Pope John XXIII

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Competitive Credibility

Politics has become a contest of competitive credibility.

-- Professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr., "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics"
(New York: Public Affairs, 2004), p. 106

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Devil's Dictionary of the Bush Era

For the last few years we have been ruled by lexicographers. Never has an administration spent so much time creating, defining, or redefining terms, perhaps because no one (since George Orwell) has grasped the power and possibility that lay hidden in plain sight in the naming and renaming of words. In a sense, our post-9/11 moment began with two definitions: The Bush administration named our global enemy "terrorism" and called the acts that followed a "war," which was soon given the moniker "the global war on terror", which was then given an instant future -- being defined as a "generational struggle" that was still to come. All this, along with "war" itself, was simply announced rather than officially "declared."

Given that we were (by administration definition) at war, it should have been self-evident that those we captured in our "war" on terrorism would then be "prisoners of war," but no such luck for them, since their rights would in that case have been clearly defined in international treaties signed by the United States. So the Bush administration opened its Devil's Dictionary and came up with a new, tortured term for our new prisoners, "unlawful combatants," which really stood for: We can do anything we want to you in a place of our choosing. For that place, they then chose Guantnamo, an American base in Cuba (which they promptly defined as within "Cuban sovereignty" for the purposes of putting our detention camps beyond the purview of American courts or Congress, but within Bush administration sovereignty -- the sole kind that counted with them -- for the purposes of the Cubans).

In this way, we moved from a self-declared generational war against a method of making war to a world of torture beyond the reach of, or even sight of, the law in a place that (until the Supreme Court recently ruled otherwise) more or less didn't exist. All this was then supported by a world of pretzeled language constantly being reshaped in the White House Counsel's office, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon so that reality would have no choice but to comply with the names given it.

-- Tom Engelhardt at, March 28, 2005

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hallelujah is Our Song

Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.

-- Pope John Paul II

Friday, April 01, 2005

Have No Fear

Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.

-- Pope John Paul II

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Classic Retort

I have to infer from that (statement) that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power.

-- Paul Wolfowitz

It's the classic retort given by neocons and other war supporters when anyone questions the wisdom of the Iraq War. But let's say I get disturbed by a spider crawling on the garage wall. I slam the car into it at 50 miles an hour, destroying the car and causing a few thousand dollars in damage to the garage. When my wife objects, I say: "I have to infer from that statement that you would be happier if that spider were still crawling up the wall."

"No, schmuck," she says, "I'd be happier if we still had a car and didn't have to fork out ten thousand dollars to fix the garage."

-- R. J. Eskow (Common Dreams, March 27)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

States' Rights

My party is demonstrating that they are for states' rights unless they don't like what states are doing.

-- Christopher Shays, Republican congressman of Connecticut, on the Schiavo case

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

We Don't Want Pluralism

I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good ... our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism.

-- Randall Terry, spokesman for the Schindler family in the Florida Schiavo fiasco

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Child in One

Sometimes the child in one behaves a certain way and the rest of oneself follows behind, slowly shaking its head.

-- James E. Shapiro

Friday, March 25, 2005

I Respect Faith

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.

-- Wilson Mizner

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Scalia on the Ten Commandments

I bet that 90% of the American people believe in the Ten Commandments, and 85% couldn't tell you what they all are.

-- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; cited in Ellen Goodman,
"Monuments to God or History?" (Boston Globe, March 6, 2005)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Keep Your Faith

Keep your faith in all beautiful things; in the sun when it is hidden, in the Spring when it is gone.

-- Roy R. Gilson

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

To Listen to Some Devout People

To listen to some devout people, one would imagine that God never laughs.

-- Aurobindo Ghose, Indian philosopher (1872-1950)

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Government has Short-term Memory Loss

The struggle of humanity against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

-- Milan Kundera

Friday, March 18, 2005

The World Owes You?

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing; it was here first.

-- Mark Twain

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields, and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

-- Irish Blessing

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who I Really Am

Son, when you grow up you will know who I really am. I am just a child like you who has been forced to act responsibly.

-- Rod Byrnes

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

If Words Are To Bear Fruit

If words are to enter men's minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men's defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.

-- J. B. Phillips

Monday, March 14, 2005


Children do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.

-- Lenny Hoover, March 20, 1998

Friday, March 11, 2005

Your Children Are Not Your Children

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. ... You may house their bodies, but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

-- Kahlil Gibran, 1883 - 1931

The Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy teaches children that they can sell body
parts for money.

-- David Richerby

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Always Watching

Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.

-- Robert Fulghum

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Making Life Hard

Too many parents make life hard for their children by trying, too zealously, to make it easy for them.

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist,
novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

Monday, March 07, 2005

Friday, March 04, 2005

Positive Attitude

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it
will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

-- Herm Albright