Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Enough Is Enough

Portrait of Lao Zi (Lao Tzu)He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.

-- Lao-Tzu (BC 600-?), Chinese philosopher, founder of Taoism

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Live A Good Life

Denarius of Marcus Aurelius, Rome, 168 ADLive a good life. If there are gods and they are just, they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

-- Marcus Aurelius (121-180), philosopher and writer

Monday, December 21, 2009

Contented Dazzlement

Ovum & SpermatozoonsStatistically the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you would think the mere fact of existence would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. We are alive against the stupendous odds of genetics, infinitely outnumbered by all the alternates who might, except for luck, be in our places.

-- Lewis Thomas (1913 - 1993), physician, author, Dean of Yale Medical School, The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher (1974)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Poet Tree

Poet Tree

Q. What is this curious list I see?
A. The answer is plainly, "Poet - tree".

-- Kay Haugaard, on the Word-A-Day mailing list

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alphabet Shop


After 19 weeks, I now have a new gig. That's the longest break (by 3 weeks) that I've taken from full-time employment in 30 years.

I work for the Cyber Security Directorate of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, in the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technology at the University of Illinois.

Or, as I tell my kids, I work for the CSD of the NCSA, in the IACAT at the UI, aka the Alphabet Shop.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The logo of NORMAL, the Norwegian subgroup of NORML.Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for -- in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.

-- Ellen Goodman (1941-), American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist

Monday, December 14, 2009

One Gift

Gift box iconIf you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.

-- Bruce Barton (1886-1967), American author, advertising expert

Thursday, December 10, 2009


TextingPeople who have something really private to say probably shouldn't do it in a text on their cellphone.

-- Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group based in Washington, New York Times, 9 December 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Until The Day

American currencyThe American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.

-- Alexis de Tocqueville

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

We Cannot Have Both

Photograph of Abraham Flexner, 15 January 1895Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.

-- Abraham Flexner, educator (1866-1959)

Monday, December 07, 2009


Sketch of Claude Lévi-StraussOne must be very naive or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation.

-- Claude Levi-Strauss (28 November 1908 - 30 October 2009), French anthropologist, Tristes Tropiques (1955), Chapter 16 : Markets

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Do Something

Joss WhedonAll I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause -- there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once.

-- Joss Whedon (1964-), writer and film director

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

No Interest

Afghanistan orthographic_projectionThe absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.

-- President Barack Obama, 1 December 2009, in a speech announcing the addition of 30,000 troops to the fight in Afghanistan, coupled with a plan to begin removing troops in July 2011

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Village Of 100 People

Village of 100 -- MoneyIf the world were a village of 100 people ....

6 people (all in the USA) would own 59% of all the village's wealth,
74 people would share another 39%, and
20 people would share the remaining 2%.

-- David Copeland, in Value Earth

Monday, November 30, 2009

Next Time

Tareq And Michaele SalahiThe next time it will be a far worse reality than a reality TV show.

-- Rep. Peter T. King, who called on Congress to investigate how 2 uninvited guests appeared at the White House for a state dinner while aspiring to be featured on "The Real Housewives of Washington", New York Times, 27 November 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just To Be Alive

Pictogram for happyGratitude, appreciation, giving thanks. No matter what words you use, they all mean the same thing. Happy. We're supposed to be happy. Grateful for friends, family. Happy just to be alive.

-- From "Grey's Anatomy"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Motor City Thanksgiving

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe ChurchThanksgiving is not an anachronism whose time is past. It is much more than a holiday to celebrate a meal shared between the Pilgrims and Native Americans. It is a time to reflect and be thankful for what we have -- not for what we cherish, desire or envy.

-- Ted Nugent, America Rocks, 28 November 2002

Monday, November 23, 2009


Male north american turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)TURKEY, n. A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude. Incidentally, it is pretty good eating.

-- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where The Silence Is

Silence, Adam AyariGo to where the silence is and say something.

-- Amy Goodman (b. 1957), investigative journalist, columnist and author

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Next In Importance

MortarboardNext in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.

-- James A. Garfield (1831-1881), 20th President of the US, letter accepting the Republican nomination to run for President, 12 July 1880

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Paid In Liberty

Robert Louis Stevenson, portrait by Girolamo NerliThe price we pay for money is paid in liberty.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), novelist, essayist, and poet

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Nidal HasanThere won't be a lot of guilt-innocence maneuverability there.

-- Thomas H. Dunn, former defense lawyer for the Army, on possible defense strategies for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused in the Nov. 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, TX, New York Times, 16 November 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tasted It

The Lady and the Unicorn: TasteWe got more than just a whiff. We practically tasted it with the impact.

-- Peter H. Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown University, on a satellite crash that confirmed the presence of water on the moon, New York Times, 14 November 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009


LIFEThere are just over 100 people in the world serving sentences of life without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as juveniles in which no one was killed. All are in the United States. And 77 of them are in Florida.

-- Adam Liptak, New York Times, 7 November 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sesame Street

Sesame StreetSally, you've never seen a street like Sesame Street. Everything happens here. You're gonna love it!

-- Gordon Robinson (character), the very first line spoken on the very first episode, 10 November 1969. Sesame Street is the longest running children's program on US television.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Sarah We Trust

Sarah PalinWho calls a shot like that? Who makes a decision like that? It's a disturbing trend.

-- Sarah Palin, on a 2005 decision approved by President George W. Bush to put "In God We Trust" on the edge -- rather than the face -- of new presidential dollar coins, November 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Safe To Assume

SafeAlthough CREW has been unable to uncover the demographic makeup of [these companies], it seems safe to assume the vast majority of their employees are not pregnant women, infants and children, young adults up to 24 years old, and healthcare workers.

-- Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, after more than a dozen companies were given the vaccines, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, 5 November 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Berlin Wall

After the fall, Berlin 1990Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten! (No one has the intention of erecting a wall!).

-- DDR State Council Chairman Walter Ulbricht, press conference, 15 June 1961, prior to the 13 August 1961 establishment of the Berlin Wall, which finally came down on 9 November 1989

Friday, November 06, 2009

Small Enough To Fit

Constitution of the United StatesI want a government small enough to fit inside the Constitution.

-- co-founder Harry Browne (1933-2006)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not Evil

MickeyMickey is never going to be evil or go around killing people.

-- Warren Spector, creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer overhauling the image of Mickey Mouse, New York Times, 5 November 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Train Set

Bachmann Santa Fe FlyerThis is all happening because my father didn't buy me a train set as a kid.

-- Warren Buffett, joking about his decision to buy a railroad, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, New York Times, 4 November 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Karzai Wins!

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (right) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Abdullah (center) meet with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (left foreground) in the Pentagon on June 14, 2004Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.

-- George Ade (1866 - 1944), American writer, newspaper columnist, and playwright

Monday, November 02, 2009

At Once

Signature of Calvin CoolidgeWe cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.

-- Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933), 30th president of the United States

Friday, October 30, 2009

Recession Over

EconomistAnyone who thinks the recession is over just because the economy grew in the 3rd quarter is an economist.

-- Ron Elving, NPR's "It's All Politics" podcast, 29 October 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

That Great Fiction

Frederic BastiatThe State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

-- Frederic Bastiat, French economist of the 19th Century

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Don't Know

Uncle Sam's youngest son, Citizen Know NothingI don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I just really don't know.

-- Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), on his health plan's chances of passing, New York Times, 28 October 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Disturb The Peace

James Baldwin photographed by Carl Van Vechten, September 13, 1955Most of us, no matter what we say, are walking in the dark, whistling in the dark. Nobody knows what is going to happen to him from one moment to the next, or how one will bear it. This is irreducible. And it's true of everybody. Now, it is true that the nature of society is to create, among its citizens, an illusion of safety; but it is also absolutely true that the safety is always necessarily an illusion. Artists are here to disturb the peace.

-- James Baldwin (1924 - 1987), African-American novelist, short story writer, playwright and essayist, "An interview with James Baldwin" (1961)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Marriage

Screenshot from the DVD version of the 1971 film Dirty HarryThere's only one way to have a happy marriage and as soon as I learn what it is I'll get married again.

-- Clint Eastwood (May 31, 1930-), American actor, film director, film producer and composer; 5-time Academy Award recipient

Friday, October 23, 2009

Too Fatiguing

Chinese character: 'hate' 恨 (U+6068)We ought to hate very rarely, as it is too fatiguing; remain indifferent to a great deal, forgive often and never forget.

-- Sarah Bernhardt (1844 - 1923), French stage actress, My Double Life (1907) Chapter 33

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Frank and Gail Zappa, in their Hollywood Hills home, 1988Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.

-- Frank Zappa (1940-1993), composer, musician, film director

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Mullah Mohammed Omar's 1998-06-15 letter to all TalibanHe's a semi-literate individual who has met with no more than a handful of non-Muslims in his entire life. And he's staged one of the most remarkable military comebacks in modern history.

-- Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, on Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reclusive leader of the Taliban, New York Times, 11 October 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Too Many

Motorbikes of the Cuerpo Nacional de PolicíaWhen there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty. When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace. When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.

-- Lin Yutang (10 October 1895 - 26 March 1976), Chinese writer and translator, as quoted in Alexander, James (2005). The World's Funniest Laws. Cheam: Crombie Jardine. pp. page 6

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For The Children

diagram illustrating the changing attitudes toward interracial marriage in the US from 1972-2002I'm not a racist. I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house. My main concern is for the children.

-- Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell, of Tangihapoa Parish, Louisiana, on his refusal to grant a marriage license to an interracial couple, 6 October 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good Is Dumb

Marcel MarceauWhen good is dumb, evil will always triumph.

-- Jeff Atwood, 28 May 2008, Coding Horror Blog, 23 November 2000

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

World Peace

German postal stamp issued 1st day of death of George C. Marshall (1880–1959)If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known.

-- George C. Marshall (1880 - 1959), American military leader and statesman, creator of the Marshall Plan, the only US Army general to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, US Army, 1 September 1945

Monday, October 12, 2009

They Surely Will Abide

Alfred NobelMy dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.

-- Alfred Nobel (21 October 1833 - 10 December 1896), Swedish chemist, armaments manufacturer, inventor of dynamite, who in his will used his enormous fortune to institute the Nobel Prizes, as quoted in The Military Quotation Book (2002) by James Charlton, p. 114

[It didn't turn out that way.]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Getting The Demon Out

Stamp of AzerbaijanSongwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It's like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won't let you. So you have to get up and make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. It's always in the middle of the bloody night, or when you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off. So letting go is what the whole game is. Every time you try to put your finger on it, it slips away. You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away. You can never grasp them.

-- John Lennon (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980), singer, songwriter, guitarist, political activist, humorist, painter, and writer

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Insurmountable Opportunities

Mohuna village, Deobun, Northwest of Landour, Dehradun - 1850sWe are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.

-- Walt Kelly (1913-1973), creator of the Pogo comic strip