Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Culture Shock

Flag of BrazilYesterday my family welcomed the arrival of Rodrigo Martins, a Brazilian 16-year-old foreign exchange student, who will be living with us for the next 10 months. It took him about 24 hours to get here (Curitiba to Sao Paulo to Dallas to Chicago to Champaign), and a couple of hours to get him registered for school. When I left him this morning, he was settling in to Algebra II.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cure Your Own

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class William Strickland, assigned to the medical staff aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), prepares a syringe to administer a dose of the annual flu vaccineThe truth is, when all is said and done, one does not teach a subject, one teaches a student how to learn it. Teaching may look like administering a dose, but even a dose must be worked on by the body if it is to cure. Each individual must cure his or her own ignorance.

-- Jacques Barzun (30 November 1907-), French-born American scholar, historian, critic and teacher, Reasons to De-Test the Schools," New York Times, 11 October 1988

Friday, August 27, 2010

Art Of Teaching

TeacherI have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

-- John Steinbeck (1902-1968), American writer, Nobel laureate, Pulitzer Prize awardee, like captured fireflies" (1955)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Solid Rock

Solid rockThey are miners, so they understand the situation they are living. They understand that we have to go through 700 meters of solid rock to rescue them.

-- Laurence Goldborne, mining minister of Chile, on estimates that the rescue of 33 trapped miners may take more than three months, New York Times, 25 August 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Scale, Destruction, Complexity

Before and afterWhat we have is a single long event, which has the scale of the tsunami, the destruction of Haiti and the complexity of the Middle East. And in twenty years in responding to humanitarian crises, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this.

-- Jane Cocking, humanitarian director of Oxfam, on flooding in Pakistan, 23 August 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Healthy Exercise

Baby with mirrorIt would be a healthy exercise for every politician to look in the mirror every morning and remind himself that he holds office only because, in a two-man race against another mediocrity, a modest majority of those half-informed people who imagined that their votes mattered reckoned that he was the lesser evil. And they weren't too sure about that.

-- Joseph Sobran (1946-), American journalist and writer

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gimme A Break

Blackwater LogoThe owner of the private military firm Blackwater, Erik Prince, has reportedly left the United States and moved to the United Arab Emirates. The New York Times reports Prince has set up shop in Abu Dhabi, where he hopes to win "focus on security work from governments in Africa and the Middle East." Independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill was the first to report Prince's moving plans two months ago. Five of Prince's deputies were indicted on weapons charges in April, and Prince put Blackwater up for sale in June. At the time, Scahill said Prince may have favored a move to the UAE in part because it has no extradition treaty with the United States. A colleague of Prince's told the New York Times, "He needs a break from America."

-- Democracy Now, 18 August 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010


New Coke vs. Classic CokeWhat is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality we're continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush's game from the very beginning.

-- Jeremy Scahill (1974-), US investigative journalist and author, Democracy Now, 18 August 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here's A Manual

RTFMIt was like, "Here's a manual, go fly the Space Shuttle."

-- Steve Wlodek, a juror, on the complexity of the charges against Rod R. Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, after the jury reached a verdict on just 1 of 24 charges, New York Times, 19 August 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


The dramatic masks of Thalia and Melpomene, the Muses of Comedy and TragedyJust think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.

-- Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), lawyer and author

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Far

Half smiling, half sad emoticonNot far from the invention of fire must rank the invention of doubt.

-- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), biologist

Monday, August 16, 2010

If You Find It

Baby kissing mirror imageIf you're looking for perfection, look in the mirror. If you find it there, expect it elsewhere.

-- Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990), American publisher, businessman

Friday, August 13, 2010


BaconYou know the world is in a different place when bringing home the bacon is no longer a good thing.

-- Political analyst Jennifer Duffy, on criticism of legislators who are members of Appropriations Committees, New York Times, 13 August 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not The Purpose

Motley Fool logoSome adults will spend their money foolishly, but it is not the purpose of the federal government to prevent them legally from doing it.

-- Representative Barney Frank, on a proposal in Congress to tax Internet gambling, New York Times, 29 July 2010

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Street artMonsters remain human beings. In fact, to reduce them to a subhuman level is to exonerate them of their acts of terrorism and mass murder -- just as animals are not deemed morally responsible for killing. Insisting on the humanity of terrorists is, in fact, critical to maintaining their profound responsibility for the evil they commit.

And, if they are human, then they must necessarily not be treated in an inhuman fashion. You cannot lower the moral baseline of a terrorist to the subhuman without betraying a fundamental value.

-- Andrew Sullivan (1963-), author, editor, and political commentator, "The Abolition of Torture", The New Republic, 19 December 2005

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Crime To Represent

Crime P IconThe issue in this case is the right of citizens to be able to go to court to challenge government action. Here, the government is trying to assassinate a US citizen who they say is a terrorist. The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights are trying to go into court to challenge that assassination effort, but at this point we have to get permission from the government to even go into court to represent them to raise these constitutional issues. So we think it's unconstitutional, and we're asking that the court strike that down and allow us to get to the point of this, which is under what circumstances can the government execute somebody without due process of law.

-- Bill Quigley of the Center for Constitutional Rights on a lawsuit challenging the designation of Anwar al-Awlaki as a "specially designated global terrorist", making it a crime to represent him in court; al-Awlaki is the first US citizen added to a CIA list of targets for capture or killing, 4 August 2010

Monday, August 09, 2010

Our Values

A logo of the Values Party, New ZealandLet us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values -- and play into our enemies' hands -- if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.

-- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on the building of a mosque near "Ground Zero" in New York, 4 August 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010


Pro and anti-Proposition 8 protesters rally in front of the San Francisco City HallProposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.

-- Vaughn R. Walker, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in San Francisco, New York Times, 5 August 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Since When?

A boy working as a 'clock boy' on the streets of Merida, MexicoSince when do we have to agree with people to defend them from injustice?

-- Lillian Hellman (1905-1984), American playwright

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sets You Right

Kyrgyz studentOf course you will insist on modesty in the children, and respect to their teachers, but if the boy stops you in your speech, cries out that you are wrong and sets you right, hug him!

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), writer and philosopher

Monday, August 02, 2010

Bad Day

Book CoverSixty years ago I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea, and as a result I wrote a book saying that I hadn't had a bad day since. Today, I have to reassess that statement.

-- Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), after the House ethics committee detailed 13 charges of ethics violations against him, New York Times, 30 July 2010