Thursday, December 23, 2010


PeopleThe 2010 US Census results are in. The official population of the US (as of 1 April) reached 308,745,538, an increase of 9.7% since 2000, though this is the slowest growth rate since the Great Depression.

12 seats in the House of Representatives will move, with Texas the biggest winner, gaining four seats, bringing its delegation up to 36 seats. Florida gained two seats. Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Georgia, Washington and South Carolina will each gain a single seat.

New York and Ohio will lose two seats each. Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Iowa, and Michigan will each lose a seat.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Compound Interest

Shows the effect of compound interest at 5% per annumGood and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.

-- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Irish author, scholar of medieval literature, and Christian apologist, Mere Christianity (1952)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Unpopularity Is Not A Crime

There is no doubt that WikiLeaks is in an unpopular position right now. Many feel their publication was offensive. But unpopularity is not a crime, and publishing offensive information isn't either. And the repeated calls from members of Congress, the government, journalists and other experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures cause me some consternation.

-- House Judiciary chair John Conyers (D-MI), 16 December 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doubly Dangerous

Greek road sign advising of double dangerous curves aheadPower always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous.

-- William Proxmire (1915-2005), US senator, reformer

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


XKCD Wikipedian protesterLying increases the creative faculties, expands the ego, and lessens the frictions of social contacts.

-- Clare Booth Luce (1903-1987), US diplomat, dramatist, journalist, and politician

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Is It?

Question BookHow is it that judicial approval is required when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for electronic surveillance, but ... judicial scrutiny is prohibited when the United States decides to target a U.S. citizen overseas for death?

-- Federal Judge John Bates, raising an unanswered question in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, who is targeted for death by the US; Bates dismissed the suit after finding that Awlaki's father does not have legal standing to bring a case concerning his son, 7 December 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Like Ants

Meat eater ants feeding on honeyLike ants, they gather in colonies, sometimes underground in basements, and work long and hard.

-- Zhou Xiaozheng, sociology professor at Renmin University in Beijing, on recent college graduates flooding into China's big cities, New York Times, 12 December 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

What Exactly

Human Rights Watch logoIn a sense, it is easier, strategy-wise, to be opposed to a full totalitarian regime than it is to try to counter a more sophisticated, strongly authoritarian one. There is some freedom. How do you explain to people what exactly they are lacking?

-- Tanya Lokshina, deputy director of the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch, on post-Soviet Russia, 12 January 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Thinking Men Are Few

Auguste Rodin. Grubleren (Thinker)If thinking men are few, they are for that reason all the more powerful. Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power.

-- Henry George (1839-1897), American political economist, Social Problems (1883) Ch. 21

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

If You Believe In It

Peace dove[Y]ou feel alone if you're the only one thinking "wouldn't it be nice if there was peace and nobody was getting killed." So advertise yourself that you're for peace if you believe in it.

-- John Lennon (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980), Interview on The David Frost Show, 14 June 1969

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Test Of Progress

Progress barThe test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd President of the United States, second inaugural address, 20 January 1937

Monday, December 06, 2010

Truth Becomes Treason

Treason GraffitiIn a free society we're supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.

-- Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) speaking to Fox Business host Judge Napolitano in a television appearance defending whistleblower website WikiLeaks, 2 December 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Questions And Answers

Question marksSometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

-- Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel) (1904-1991), American author and cartoonist, quoted in Looking Tall by Standing Next to Short People, And Other Techniques for Managing a Law Firm (2007) by H. Edward Wesemann

Thursday, December 02, 2010


WikiLeaks Helping Hand logoThe more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive "secrecy tax") and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what's actually going on.

-- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, "The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance", 31 December 2006

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Myths And Shibboleths

Shibboleth (logo)Public opinion rarely considers the needs of the next generation or the history of the last. It is frequently hampered by myths and misinformation, by stereotypes and shibboleths, and by an innate resistance to innovation.

-- Theodore C. Sorensen (1928-2010), presidential advisor, lawyer, and writer

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Hope Of Evolution

EvolutionIf we must all agree, all work together, we're no better than a machine. If an individual can't work in solidarity with his fellows, it's his duty to work alone. His duty and his right. We have been denying people that right. We've been saying, more and more often, you must work with the others, you must accept the rule of the majority. But any rule is tyranny. The duty of the individual is to accept no rule, to be the initiator of his own acts, to be responsible. Only if he does so will the society live, and change, and adapt, and survive. We are not subjects of a State founded upon law, but members of a society founded upon revolution. Revolution is our obligation: our hope of evolution.

-- Ursula K. Le Guin (21 October 1929-), US-based author, The Dispossessed (1974), Chapter 12

Monday, November 29, 2010


Get ParanoidI get paid to be paranoid, and so do you.

-- Philip Burdette, federal security director at the Baltimore airport, giving a pep talk to security workers, New York Times, 23 November 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Treasure chestWe can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

-- Thornton Wilder (17 April 1897 - 7 December 1975) American playwright and novelist

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Trickle Down

Trickle Down cartoonI think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it ... The rich are always going to say that, you know, "Just give us more money, and we'll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you." But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.

-- Warren Buffett (1930-), American investor, industrialist, and philanthropist, on his opposition to renewing Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, ABC News Interview, 21 November 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wired Differently

Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing. The worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently.

-- Michael Rich, executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health, on how digital technology affects children, New York Times, 22 November 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Teenagers Society Deserves

High school studentsLike its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves.

-- John Boynton Priestley (1894-1984), English playwright, novelist, and broadcaster

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Have To Settle

Chrysler logoIn a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else.

-- Lido Anthony (Lee) Iacocca (15 October 1924-), American industrialist, former Chrysler CEO

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lame Duck

Slow Duck signAnd I begin by suggesting that our session does not necessarily have to be a "lame duck," that we have the capacity to respond to the many pressing problems of the country, as we choose. We can spread our wings, and we can fly.

-- Senator Arlen Spector (D-PA), on the lame duck session of Congress, 16 November 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Annoying Habits

Emblem for annoyedIt's like magic. When you live by yourself, all your annoying habits are gone!

-- Merrill Markoe (1951-), author, television writer, and comedian

Monday, November 15, 2010

For So Long

Aung San Suu KyiWe haven't seen each other for so long, I have so much to tell you.

-- Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader, speaking to supporters after spending seven and a half years under house arrest, New York Times, 14 November 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pigs Fly

Pigs fly road signGiven sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.

-- Woody Page, Denver sports columnist

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Borrowed Money

Borrowed moneyI'm very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money. And the problem that we've gotten into in recent years is spending programs with borrowed money, tax cuts with borrowed money. And, at the end of the day, that proves disastrous. And my view is I don't think we can play subtle policy here.

-- Former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan, coming out in favor of letting the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire, Meet the Press, 1 August 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not Jobs?

Official photo of United States Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

-- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with National Journal's Major Garrett, 23 October 2010

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Woodcut form of a raised fist, adapted from man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.

-- George Jean Nathan

Monday, November 08, 2010

Seldom Happy

Happy FaceA man or woman is seldom happy unless he or she is sustaining him or herself and making a contribution to others.

-- Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar (1926-), American self-help author and speaker, See You at the Top (2000)

Friday, November 05, 2010


ExplosionI don't know why everybody is running to buy these expensive and useless machines. I can overcome the body scanners with enough explosives to bring down a Boeing 747. That's why we haven't put them in our airport.

-- Rafi Sela, Israeli airport security expert, referring to Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, addressing Canada's Parliament, 22 April 2010

Thursday, November 04, 2010


MotivationMotivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.

-- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), Thirty-fourth President of the USA

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Dissolve And Abolish

Decorative toilet seatBeing desirous of allaying the dissensions of party strife now existing within our realm, I do hereby dissolve and abolish the Democratic and Republican parties, and also do hereby decree the disfranchisement and imprisonment, for not more than 10, nor less than five, years, to all persons leading to any violation of this our imperial decree.

-- Joshua Abraham Norton (also known as Emperor Norton I) (c. 1819 - 1880), eccentric resident of San Francisco who proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States, "Imperial Decree" dated 12 August 1869, published in The San Francisco Herald 13 August 1869

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Solitary Suffrage

The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.

In the midst of these pleasing ideas we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an election is to be determined by a majority of a single vote, and that can be procured by a party through artifice or corruption, the Government may be the choice of a party for its own ends, not of the nation for the national good. If that solitary suffrage can be obtained by foreign nations by flattery or menaces, by fraud or violence, by terror, intrigue, or venality, the Government may not be the choice of the American people, but of foreign nations. It may be foreign nations who govern us, and not we, the people, who govern ourselves; and candid men will acknowledge that in such cases choice would have little advantage to boast of over lot or chance.

-- John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the US, inaugural address

Monday, November 01, 2010

Big Night

Flash of HappinessWe're going to have a big night on Tuesday night - a really big night.

-- Representative John A Boehner (R-OH), who is poised to become speaker if Republicans win the House, New York Times, 31 October 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Doomed To Success

Doomed LusitaniaAt first I hoped that such a technically unsound project would collapse but I soon realized it was doomed to success. Almost anything in software can be implemented, sold, and even used given enough determination. There is nothing a mere scientist can say that will stand against the flood of a hundred million dollars. But there is one quality that cannot be purchased in this way -- and that is reliability. The price of reliability is the pursuit of the utmost simplicity. It is a price which the very rich find most hard to pay.

-- Charles Antony Richard Hoare (11 January 1934-), British computer scientist, creator of the Quicksort algorithm, on the programming language PL/1, 1980 Turing Award Lecture; Communications of the ACM 24 (2), February 1981: pp. 75-83

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Obvious Deficiencies

DeficientThere are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

-- Charles Antony Richard Hoare (11 January 1934-), British computer scientist, creator of the Quicksort algorithm, 1980 Turing Award Lecture; Communications of the ACM 24 (2), February 1981: pp. 75-83

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


When code and comments disagree, both are probably wrong.

-- Norm Schryer, computer scientist and head of AT&T Broadband Services Research, More Programming Pearls: Confessions of a Coder, Column 6: Bumper-Sticker Computer Science

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Sand Castle on the BeachEphemeral documents help to destroy the effect history has on present-day decisions.

-- Comment by EH on Bruce Schneier's blog posting, Declassified NSA Documents", 25 October 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Little More Stressful

StressWhen it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like.

-- Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowers' Web site, New York Times, 24 October 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010


MacinCrash Sad Mac LogoTechnology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything, except over technology.

-- John Tudor

Thursday, October 21, 2010


HalloweenThere are so many questionable aspects to this thing it's scary.

-- Rebel A. Cole, professor of finance and real estate at DePaul University, on banks' handling of mortgages, New York Times, 21 October 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Christine O'Donnell during her debate with Democrat Chris Coons, 19 October 2010You're telling me that's in the First Amendment?

-- Connecticut Republican (Tea Party) senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, in a debate with Democratic opponent Chris Coons, after Coons stated that the separation of church and state springs from the First Amendment to the US Constitution, 19 October 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just The Opposite

OppositesTo do just the opposite is also a form of imitation.

-- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), German scientist, satirist and philosopher, Notebook D (1773-1775)

Monday, October 18, 2010


Mandelbrot set with continuously colored environmentThe Mandelbrot set covers a small space yet carries a large number of different implications. Is it a fitting epitaph? Absolutely.

-- Benoit B. Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 - 14 October 2010), Poland-born French-American mathematician known as the "father of fractal geometry", interview in New Scientist (November 2004)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Modern Corporation

Corporate flagWhen the modern corporation acquires power over markets, power in the community, power over the state and power over belief, it is a political instrument, different in degree but not in kind from the state itself. To hold otherwise -- to deny the political character of the modern corporation -- is not merely to avoid the reality. It is to disguise the reality. The victims of that disguise are those we instruct in error. The beneficiaries are the institutions whose power we so disguise. Let there be no question: economics, so long as it is thus taught, becomes, however unconsciously, a part of the arrangement by which the citizen or student is kept from seeing how he or she is, or will be, governed.

-- John Kenneth Galbraith (15 October 1908 - 29 April 2006), Canadian-American economist and author, Power and the Useful Economist (1973)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Your Shift Is Over

Luiz Urzua being greeted by the Chilean presidentMr Urzua, your shift is over.

-- Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, speaking to Luis Urzua, the shift foreman and last of 33 Chilean miners to be rescued from entrapment 2041 feet underground that lasted from August 5th until October 13th, 13 October 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Root Of All Evil

Root symbolThe belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it, seems to me the deepest root of all that is evil in the world.

-- Max Born (1882-1970), German physicist and mathematician, 1954 Nobel Laureate in Physics, grandfather of Olivia Newton-John(!), Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance (1964)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Not Yet

WaitingThe families are clear, the miners are clear what still needs to be done and the time it will take. We still haven't rescued anyone.

-- Laurence Goldborne, Chile's mining minister, after a drill pierced through volcanic rock to reach 33 miners trapped underground, New York Times, 10 October 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Getting It Right On Wiretaps

Graber's allegedly surreptitious helmet camThose of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public. When we exercise that power in public fora, we should not expect our actions to be shielded from public observation. 'Sed quis custodiet ipsos cutodes' ("Who watches the watchmen?"). ... [The encounter] took place on a public highway in full view of the public. Under such circumstances, I cannot, by any stretch, conclude that the troopers had any reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversation with the defendant which society would be prepared to recognize as reasonable.

-- Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr., ruling for the defense in the case of Anthony Graber, a motorcyclist who used a helmet camera to film a plainclothes trooper after being stopped for speeding in Maryland. Graber then posted the video, which shows the officer approaching him with his gun drawn, to YouTube.

Plitt also dismissed a charge of possession of "a device primarily useful for the purpose of the surreptitious interception of oral communications," (the helmet camera), saying it would render illegal cell phones and other handheld recording devices used by many.

The 27 September 2010 decision is available online at