Thursday, February 25, 2010


Wolves in KolmardenWe have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long as we remain honest -- which will be as long as we can keep the attention of our people alive. If they once become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves.

-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third US president, architect and author, in a letter to Edward Carrington

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Another Flaw

An enlargement of the triangle in the upper right corner of the 1999 edition of New Taiwan Dollar $1000 note, showing the 45 degree angle labled as 60 degrees.Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.

-- Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ethics v Morals

Steve SolomonEthics versus Morals. Ethical behavior may be defined as acting after thinking about what would produce the greatest good for the greatest number affected. Morals are a codification of prior ethical decisions, simplified into easy-to-grasp rules. Morals exist because most people are very uncomfortable with the uncertainties of attempting to figure out what the right course of action might be, and most and are reluctant to take responsibility for having made mistakes. Being ethical means making decisions based on inadequate data and acting anyway. Ethical actions frequently work out badly; the actor has no one to blame for the results but themselves. Acting ethically while still desiring certainties means being uncomfortable. Moral acts also often work out badly. The apparent advantage to being moral is that when a moral act works out badly no one is to blame because the actor did what was supposed to be done. Being moral is comfortable because a moral person always knows what should be done, did it and is not to blame for the outcomes.

-- Steve Solomon, "The Wisdom of Solomon",'sfolder/0502wisdomofsol.html

Monday, February 22, 2010


Donald BainIt's a kind of theater. Sometimes, a car will fly by in the air.

-- Juma Gul, who works beside a mountainous stretch of the Afghan national highway that is famous for accidents, New York Times, 8 February 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Any Little Change

dsm-ivAnything you put in that book, any little change you make, has huge implications not only for psychiatry but for pharmaceutical marketing, research, for the legal system, for who's considered to be normal or not, for who's considered disabled.

-- Dr. Michael First, professor of psychiatry at Columbia, on proposed changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, New York Times, 10 February 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Something Different

Austin plane crash siteI saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

-- Closing paragraphs of a blog entry posted by Joseph Andrew Stack III just before he crashed an aircraft into the Austin office of the IRS, 18 February 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A House Of One Room

John Muir, American conservationistHow hard to realize that every camp of men or beast has this glorious starry firmament for a roof! In such places standing alone on the mountaintop it is easy to realize that whatever special nests we make -- leaves and moss like the marmots and birds, or tents or piled stone -- we all dwell in a house of one room -- the world with the firmament for its roof -- and are sailing the celestial spaces without leaving any track.

-- John Muir (1838-1914) American environmentalist, naturalist, traveler, writer, and scientist, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (1938)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Thing That Unifies

Profile painting (by Eric Robert Morse, 2005) of Jacques Barzun at around 40 yrs. old. Title: With Light from a New Dawn, 11The one thing that unifies men in a given age is not their individual philosophies but the dominant problem that these philosophies are designed to solve.

-- Jacques Barzun (b. 1907-11-30), French-born American scholar, historian, critic, teacher and editor, Classic, Romantic, Modern (1961), ch. I: Romanticism -- Dead or Alive?"

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Do Not Love Congress

Official portrait, U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of IndianaAfter all these years, my passion for service to my fellow citizens is undiminished, but my desire to do so by serving in Congress has waned. For some time, I have had a growing conviction that Congress is not operating as it should. There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the peoples' business is not being done.

... All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state, and our nation than continued service in Congress.

To put it in words most people can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress. I will not, therefore, be a candidate for election to the Senate this November.

-- Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), announcing his retirement from the Senate, 15 February 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010


August WilsonDeath ain't nothing but a fastball on the outside corner.

-- August Wilson (1945-2005), American playwright, Pulitzer Prize winner, "Fences", Act I, scene 1, character Troy Maxson, a former Negro League slugger

Thursday, February 04, 2010


William James (1906)Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.

-- William James (1842-1910), American Psychologist, Professor, Author

Monday, February 01, 2010

A Moral

John Tenniel`s original (1865) illustration for Lewis Carroll`s Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

-- Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), (1832 - 1898), British author, mathematician, Anglican clergyman, and logician, the Mock Turtle speaking to Alice, in Alice in Wonderland