Monday, March 31, 2008

No Place For Doubt

A belief which leaves no place for doubt is not a belief; it is a superstition.

-- Jose Bergamin, author (1895-1983)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not The Will To Believe

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.

-- Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Satellite TV Networks, Cell Phones, and GPS, Oh My!

As you may know, my main interest in [communications] is in the use of satellite relays, which I think may revolutionise the pattern of world communications. To the best of my knowledge, I was the first to suggest this possiblity (see "Extraterrestrial Relays", Wireless World, October '45). ... My general conclusions are that perhaps in 30 years the orbital relay system may take over all the functions of existing surface networks and provide others quite impossible today. For example, the three stations in the 24-hour orbit could provide not only an interference AND censorship-free global TV service for the same power as a single modern transmitter, but could also make possible a position-finding grid whereby anyone on earth could locate himself by means of a couple of dials on an instrument about the size of a watch. (A development of Decca and transistorisation.) It might even make possible world-wide person-to-person radio with automatic dialling. Thus no-one on the planet need ever get lost or become out of touch with the community, unless he wanted to be. I'm still thinking about the social consequences of this!

-- Arthur C. Clarke, anticipating international TV networks, GPS, and ubiquitous phone access, letter to Andrew Haley, August 1956

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we're led to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear, and it's worse than fear - it's active disengagement.

-- Ken Burns, American Historian

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I talked to Senator Clinton last night. Let me tell you: we've had better conversations.

-- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, endorsing Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, New York Times, 22 April 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Truth Was So Implausible

In retrospect, we got it wrong partly because the truth was so implausible.

-- Former CIA Director George Tenet, regarding Saddam Hussein possessing unconventional weapons; cited in Scott Shane & Mark Mazzetti "Ex-CIA Chief, in Book, Assails Cheney on Iraq" (New York Times, 27 April 2007)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sane And Happy

Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being). Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.

-- Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE (16 December 1917 - 19 March 2008), British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, "3001: The Final Odyssey" (1997)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.

-- Ronald Reagan

Monday, March 17, 2008

No Greater Gift

There is no greater gift to an insecure leader that quite matches a vague enemy who can be used to whip up fear and hatred among the population.

-- Paul Rusesabagina (1954-), humanitarian, subject of the film "Hotel Rwanda"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Final Exam

I kind of feel like the student who's getting ready for the final exam but they didn't attend any classes.

-- David A. Paterson, who takes over as governor of New York on Monday, NY Times, 14 March 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spam Nation

I use Google Mail (gmail) as a simple way to get ubiquitous access to my email with good spam filtering. They leave stuff in the "spam" folder for 30 days. And they display how many messages are in your spam folder, so it's easy to tell (roughly) how many spam messages were received per day over the past 30 days

I'm just guessing here, but I seem to get a lot of spam, and I'm awfully glad gmail is good at catching it. For the first time today, my spam folder hit >10,000 messages. It currently stands at 10,251 (it was 10,249 when I started typing this), for an average of 341.7 spams per day, which works out to 14.2 spams per hour, or one spam every 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

Now it's at 10,254, up about 300 since yesterday, which indicates a *lot* of spams in the last 24 hours.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


There has been a decline in ethics and we've got to turn it around.

-- Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who resigned 12 March 2008 after being taped by the FBI arranging a $4300 tryst with a prostitute

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who Breaks The Thread?

Who breaks the thread, the one who pulls, the one who holds on?

-- James Richardson, poet, professor (b. 1950)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Voice Of Protest

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press, and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.

-- Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908), American writer, editor, and educator

Friday, March 07, 2008

Try To Persuade

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. general and 34th president (1890-1969)

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.

-- William F. Buckley, Jr. (November 24, 1925 - February 27, 2008), American author and conservative commentator

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

XLink ITC-BT Bluetooth Gateway

Last night I installed the XLink ITC-BT Bluetooth Gateway. It works as advertised, which is very cool. And I got it from for just $124.99, which is also very cool.

Here's the deal -- I ditched my land line ($65 per month) for an additional cell phone on my Family Share Plan with Verizon Wireless ($9.99 per month). Now, this creates the problem of having a two-storey house plus basement with a single cell phone ringing somewhere inside it when someone calls the house line.

This device is the solution. It connects to your cell phone via bluetooth. It has a phone jack on the back. You connect your house phone(s) to the jack on the back of the device. It delivers a dial tone for calling out via house phones, rings the house phones when a call comes in, and passes through Caller ID, all using the cell phone for connectivity (remember, I dropped my land line).

As a bonus, it can connect to as many as 3 cell phones at once, provides differential ring tones for those cell phones, and allows you to switch among the cell phones as if on a multi-line phone system. It also implements call waiting on your house phones in case of multiple incoming calls to different cell phones.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Seize It

With each game I play, with each season I play, I'm running out of chances ... You're never guaranteed next year. You're never guaranteed the next game. You have to seize the opportunity when it's there in front of you.

-- Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, The New York Times, 29 January 2004 (Favre announced his retirement today, 4 March 2008)

Monday, March 03, 2008

What The Terrorists Want

The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics. The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want.


The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.

-- Security Consultant Bruce Schneier, "What the Terrorists Want"