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