Friday, December 23, 2011

Philosophy Of Toys

Christmas morningWere I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need to be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.

-- Robert Lynd (1879-1949), British writer, The Peal of Bells, Chapter XVI "The Christmas Present" (1925)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

In Bed With Government

Kissing CoupleWhen one gets in bed with government, one must expect the diseases it spreads.

-- US Congressman and Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul (attributed)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Not Economic

Viktor ShenderovichThis is political, not economic. The coal miners came out because they were not paid. The people coming onto the streets of Moscow are very well off. These are people protesting because they were humiliated. They were not asked. They were just told, "Putin is coming back."

-- Viktor A. Shenderovich, a political commentator on Echo of Moscow radio, on why a surprising number of Russians are demonstrating against the government, New York Times, 12 December 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Except Religion

Breaking through credulityGullibility and credulity are considered undesirable qualities in every department of human life -- except religion.

-- Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949 - 15 December 2011), author and journalist

Monday, December 19, 2011

RIP Vaclav Havel

Vaclav HavelOut of gifted and sovereign people, the regime made us little screws in a monstrously big, rattling and stinking machine.

-- Vaclav Havel (5 October 1936-18 December 2011), three days after being elected President of Czechoslovakia by the country's still-communist parliament, 1 January 1990

Friday, December 16, 2011


We haven't had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran, so we don't understand each other. If something happens it's virtually assured that we won't get it right, that there will be miscalculations which would be extremely dangerous in that part of the world. [...]

-- Admiral Mike Mullen, recently-retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 20 September 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Call, No Text, No Update

Mobiles forbidden signAccording to NHTSA, more than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents. It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving. No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life.

-- National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, announcing an NTSB safety recommendation calling for a nationwide ban on PEDs (Personal Electronic Devices) while driving, 13 December 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Craig Virgin

Craig Virgin on Oct. 25, 1972, while on the Lebanon High School cross country team. - BNDI just want them to know that if a skinny little farm kid from Lebanon, Illinois, with a chronic kidney ailment and no track and no weight room can eventually go on to make the Hall of Fame, then they can, too.

-- Craig Virgin (1955-), on his 3 December 2011 induction to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame

I grew up in Lebanon, and my two oldest brothers were on the cross country team with Craig. His accomplishments include:

* Wins in all 48 of the prep cross country meets he entered as a junior and senior, setting records in 47 of them.

* Wins in 95 of 100 cross country races from his sophomore year in high school to his senior year at Illinois.

* Nine Big Ten titles at Illinois -- 4 in cross country and 5 in track.

* Two cross country world championships.

His 1972 time of 13:50.6 in the Illinois State High School Cross Country Championship still stands after 39 years. He didn't run before 9th grade.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Insignia of the Asymmetric Warfare Group of the US ArmyThis is an asymmetric war. In asymmetric wars, you want to pit your greatest strength against the enemy's greatest weakness. Our great strengths are our ideals and our system of justice.

As it turns out, our enemies' greatest weakness is that they are bereft of ideals. If we can maintain our ideals, our sense of justice, in the face of this, we can win. What the enemy, what the terrorists want to do -- because they know they can't beat us militarily -- [is] they can try to change us. They can cause us to become more like them, and for them, that's victory.

-- Retired Admiral John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General of the US Navy, speaking against indefinite military detention of US citizens as proposed in the National Defense Authorization Act, 12 December 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mark The End

The EndWe're here to mark the end of this war, to honor the sacrifices of all those who made this day possible, and to turn the page, begin a new chapter in the history between our two countries -- a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect.

-- President Barack Obama, after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, 12 December 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

Happy Path

Happy pathWrite meaningful test cases... if your tests only prove the happy path, that's OK... but if they prove that the happy path is the only path... that is better.

-- kantos on, 6 September 2010

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Logo from the television show 'Once Upon a Time'The jury decided that I was convicted and I am accepting of it. I acknowledge it, and, of course, I am unbelievably sorry for it.

-- Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, just before being sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption while in office, 7 December 2011

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Critic Of His Own Community

Nursall noodlingIt is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work: become a shoe repairman, a brain surgeon, a janitor, a cowboy, a nuclear physicist, a bus driver.

-- Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American naturalist and author, A Writer's Credo, from One Life at a Time, Please (1988)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Meet Them Ever Alike

Blacksmith anvil and hammerFor all your days be prepared,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil, bear -
When you are the hammer, strike.

-- Edwin Markham (23 April 1852 - 7 March 1940), American poet, Preparedness, from Gates of Paradise and Other Poems (1920)

Monday, December 05, 2011

At Peace

Women troubles (Herman Cain)I'm at peace with my God. I'm at peace with my wife, and she is at peace with me.

-- Herman Cain, announcing that he was suspending his Republican presidential campaign amid accusations of sexual impropriety, New York Times, 4 December 2011

Friday, December 02, 2011

Charitable Institutions

Adverse effects of smokingWith respect to the number of deaths, arms manufacturers are charitable institutions compared to cigarette manufacturers.

-- Silvio Garattini (1928-), doctor, researcher, professor, founder of the European Organization for Research on Treatment of Cancer

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Until Someone Loses An Eye

Dog chasing carsI absolutely loved giving chase to celebrities. How many jobs can you have car chases in? Before Diana died, it was such good fun.

-- Paul McMullan, a former editor at The News of the World, describing tabloid journalism techniques at a London inquiry on media ethics, New York Times, 30 November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nor In The Public Interest

SEC v Citigroup[The Court] is required, even after giving substantial deference to the views of the administrative agency, to be satisfied that it is not being used as a tool to enforce an agreement that is unfair, unreasonable, inadequate, or in contravention of the public interest. ... Applying these standards to the case in hand, the Court concludes, regretfully, that the proposed Consent Judgment is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest. ...

As for common experience, a consent judgment that does not involve any admissions and that results in only very modest penalties is just as frequently viewed, particularly in the business community, as a cost of doing business imposed by having to maintain a working relationship with a regulatory agency .... If the allegations of the Complaint are true, this is a very good deal for Citigroup; and, even if they are untrue, it is a mild and modest cost of doing business.

-- US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff, rejecting a settlement between the SEC and CitiGroup, in which CitiGroup is accused of both selling and shorting bad investments for a $160 million profit while investors lost $700 million, 28 November 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Driver's License

Drivers licenseOne of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license.

-- P. J. O'Rourke (14 November 1947-), American political satirist, Rolling Stone, 30 November 1989

Monday, November 28, 2011


SlothSloths move at the speed of congressional debate but with greater deliberation and less noise.

-- P. J. O'Rourke (14 November 1947), American political satirist, All the Trouble in the World (1994)

Friday, November 25, 2011

No More

Flag of Oregon[The death penalty] has been carried out just twice in last 49 years in Oregon. Both were during my first administration as Governor, one in 1996 and the other in 1997. I allowed those sentences to be carried out despite my personal opposition to the death penalty. I was torn between my personal convictions about the morality of capital punishment and my oath to uphold the Oregon constitution.

They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as Governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years. I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society.

... I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor.

-- Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announcing that no more executions will happen while he is in office, 22 November 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Creep

Wait your turn, fat boyChristmas creep (n):

The inexorable tendency for the commercial aspects of Christmas to appear earlier every year

-- Wiktionary's word of the day, 20 November 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


Normal Rockwell: Freedom from WantThanksgiving dinner successfully delivered to 14 people spanning 4 generations. Plenty to be thankful for, even if we didn't do it on Thanksgiving day.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Obama 2012I don't have as much enthusiasm this time as I did last time.

-- Sarah Farr, 20, a student in Las Vegas who worked for the Obama campaign in 2008, New York Times, 15 November 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Longing Eye

Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.

-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third US president, architect and author, in a letter to T. Coxe, 1799

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


freekhandIt is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

-- Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Irish writer and satirist, as quoted in Treasury of Thought: Forming an Encyclopedia of Quotations from Ancient and Modern Authors (1872) by Maturin Murray Ballou, p. 433

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dead Newt?

Redspotted newtI've gone from being dead in June to being asked who will be in my cabinet. I think that's real progress.

-- Republican presidential hopeful and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New York Times, 12 November 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011


'Eleven' graffiti, Oakland, CaliforniaI remember sitting at my desk in 7th grade on 11/11/71 and writing the date on a school paper. It struck me at the time that that was an awful lot of 1's, and, separated by slashes, a string of 8 very similar marks to represent the date. I thought about the only better date for that being 11/11/11, but that date seemed impossibly far away at the time.

And here it is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A bag of Trainwreck Hayze brand of Potpourri blendThe third agency of government I would do away with [pause], the Education, the, uh, Commerce, and, let's see [pause], I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. ... Oops.

-- Texas Governor Rick Perry, failing to name the three cabinet-level federal agencies he vows to eliminate if elected, at the CNBC Republican debate in Rochester, MI, 9 November 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sarkozy Vs Netanyahu

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in French about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "I can't stand him anymore. He's a liar."

President Obama responded, "You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

-- Part of a conversation overheard by a group of journalists through an open mic at the G20 summit in Cannes, 3 November 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


You Are Here (eating)Reforms? Where? Here?

-- Anna Russo, a salaried worker in Rome, on politicians' promises amid the debt crisis, New York Times, 8 November 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Ruled Paper

Write the other wayIf they give you ruled paper, write the other way.

-- Juan Ramon Jimenez (1881-1958), poet, Nobel Prize winner in literature, as quoted in the epigraph in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

Friday, November 04, 2011


If fighting starts between Pakistan and the U.S., we are beside Pakistan. If Pakistan is attacked and the people of Pakistan need Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you.

-- Afghan President Harmid Karzai, in an interview with private Pakistani television station GEO, 22 October 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Might Not

Fork in the roadIf you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.

-- Yogi Berra (12 May 1925-), When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It!, Simon and Schuster (2003)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Probably the government in Washington could be trusted at one time, but now it seems like it's all a game of who wins rather than what's best for the people.

-- Paulette DelGadillo, an interior decorator from Tempe, AZ, responding to a poll, New York Times, 26 October 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Old Sparky from Sing-Sing prisonI refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.

-- Seen taped to the window of a vehicle in traffic by user Earth_First, 18 September 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nothing Left To Eat

Old Mother HubbardOne day the poor will have nothing left to eat but the rich.

-- Anonymous Occupy Wall Street protestor, in a photo by Gene Taylor at, 11 October 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bicycle For Our Minds

I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. Humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list. ... then someone at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle, [who] blew the condor away. That's what a computer is to me... the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.

-- Steve Jobs (1955-2011), in a 1990 interview

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Political Instrument 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 the students who instruct in error. 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 (1908-2006), Canadian-American economist and author, Power and the Useful Economist (1973)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Long Straws

long straw vs short strawMy wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.)

My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I've worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate's distribution of long straws is wildly capricious.

-- Warren Buffett (30 August 1930), American
investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Letter
for "The Giving Pledge"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Steve Jobs while introducing the iPadRemembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure -- these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

-- Steven Paul Jobs (24 February 1955 - 5 October 2011), Chairman and CEO of Apple Inc., Stanford University commencement address (12 June 2005)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Moment Of Truth

Flag of the United NationsIt is a moment of truth, and my people are waiting to hear the answer of the world.

-- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech formally requesting full United Nations membership for his as yet undefined country, New York Times, 24 September 2011

Monday, October 03, 2011


ElopementCongratulations, I think, to my #4 daughter Brittany, who eloped this afternoon with her boyfriend Calvin.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


book cover of Princess Nobody : a tale of fairy land by Andrew Lang illustrated by Richard Doyle plates printed by Edmund EvansThere is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

-- Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren, August 2011, Andover, MA

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Support And Freedom

A child on a bicycleThe hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard.

-- Sloan Wilson (1920-2003), American author, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1976)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Your Business

It's your business and you don't have to share it. But you're also free to be at the mall with your girlfriend.

-- Master Sergeant Anthony Henry, telling a potential recruit what it might be like to serve in the Marines while living openly as a lesbian, New York Times, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do Nothing And Rest

Polar bear taking a nap. Berlin zoo, summer 2007Que bonito es no hacer nada, y luego descansar (how beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward).

-- Spanish proverb

Monday, September 19, 2011

At The Expense Of

Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.

-- Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), French economist and author

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lost Decade

Time Magazine, Decade from HellThis is truly a lost decade. We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we're looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s.

-- Lawrence Katz, economics professor at Harvard University, New York Times, 14 September 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crime Requires Police Work

How can we escape from the trap that the terrorists have set us? Only by recognizing that the war on terrorism cannot be won by waging war. We must, of course, protect our security; but we must also correct the grievances on which terrorism feeds. Crime requires police work, not military action.

-- George Soros (born Gyorgy Schwartz, 12 August 1930), Hungarian-born American businessman, philanthropist, and political activist, address at the University of Pennsylvania (2002)