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