Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wrong Side

Argyle sock, wrong side outThe minute that the Republican Party becomes the party -- the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people that would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science -- Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and therefore, in a losing position.

-- Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, 21 August 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011


ConyersThe bill is mislabeled. This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.

-- Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), opposing HR 1981, the so-called "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011", 27 July 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011


Eyewitness is a natural history television series produced by BBCStudy after study revealed a troubling lack of reliability in eyewitness identifications.

-- Chief Justice stuart J. Rabner, of the New Jersey Supreme Court, on new rules that will make it easier for defendants to challenge eyewitness identifications in criminal cases, New York Times, 25 August 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where Mystery Begins

Cover of the pulp magazine Mystery (February 1934)A good parson once said that where mystery begins religion ends. Cannot I say, as truly at least, of human laws, that where mystery begins, justice ends?

-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Irish statesman and writer, A Vindication of Natural Society: A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind (1756)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Liberty BellThe people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion.

-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Irish statesman and writer, Speech at a County Meeting of Buckinghamshire (1784)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Quick & Chaotic

Libyan Rebel FlagEveryone should be ready for the prospect of a very quick, chaotic transition.

-- Tom Malinowski, director of the Washington office of Human Rights Watch, on the turmoil in Libya, New York Times, 22 August 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Silly Things

Silly StringIf people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.

-- Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Austrian-born philosopher, Culture and Value (1980)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nine Out Of Five

Dow Jones (19-Jul-1987 through 19-Jan-1988)Wall Street indexes predicted nine out of the last five recessions.

-- Paul Samuelson, (1915-2009), American economist, "Science and Stocks", Newsweek, 19 September 1966, p. 92

Friday, August 12, 2011

Distill It Down

distillLet me see if I get the logic behind this. The problem with this whole thing has been there's too much partisan gridlock in Washington. So what we're going to do is distill it down to the real stars of partisan gridlock, and that's going to get something done.

-- Charlie Pierce (1953-), American writer and author, on the congressional supercommittee, on NPR's Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me quiz show, 6 August 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Having Rules

Wikipedia rulesSimply having rules does not change the things that people want to do. You have to change incentives.

-- Jimmy Wales (8 August 1966), US Internet entrepreneur, founder of WikiPedia, Interview with Reason magazine (June 2007)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Little More Luck

Diana NyadIt felt like this was my moment. I don't feel like a failure at all. But we needed a little more luck.

-- Diana Nyad (22 August 1949-), ending her attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida, which she first tried in 1978. She holds the record of 102.5 miles for a 1979 shark-cageless, open-sea swim, when she stroked from the Bahamas to Florida, 8 August 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Printing Dollars

United States Two Dollar Uncut 32-Subject Currency SheetOf course, since U.S. debt is payable in dollars, and the U.S. government controls the printing of dollars, it is not clear what a downgrade could even mean. As long as the U.S. government knows how to print dollars, it will always be able to make the interest and principal payments on its debt.

-- Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Statement on the S&P Downgrade (8 August 2011)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Common Good

Sikhs doing sewa (service to the community)The progressive-liberal values are America's values, and we need to go back to them. The heart of progressive-liberal values is simple: empathy (caring about and for people) and responsibility (acting responsibly on that empathy). These values translate into a simple principle: Use the common wealth for the common good to better all our lives. In short, promoting the common good is the central role of government.

-- George P. Lakoff (1941-), professor of cognitive linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, "The Post-Katrina Era" at Alternet.org (6 September 2005)


Friday, August 05, 2011

Good To Their Brothers

older brother strangling younger brotherMen, said the Devil,
are good to their brothers:
they don't want to mend
their own ways, but each other's.

-- Piet Hein (1905-1996), Danish poet and scientist, Grooks - Mankind

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Dissipate Certainty

Unpopular Essays coverDogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.

-- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British mathematician, philosopher, and logician, Unpopular Essays, Chapter 2 (1950)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


FocusThe ability to focus attention on important things is a defining characteristic of intelligence.

-- Robert J. Shiller (1946-), American economist, academic, and author, Irrational Exuberance (2006)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

It Will Not Be Humans

Humans on the Pioneer 10 plaqueI'd like to widen people's awareness of the tremendous timespan lying ahead -- for our planet, and for life itself. Most educated people are aware that we're the outcome of nearly 4 billion years of Darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are somehow the culmination. Our sun, however, is less than halfway through its lifespan. Six billion years from now, it will not be humans who watch the sun's demise. Any creatures that then exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or amoebae.

-- Martin Rees (1942-), English cosmologist and astrophysicist, Our Final Hour (2003)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Tyrrany Of The Status Quo

Cover, Tyranny of the Status QuoThere is enormous inertia -- a tyranny of the status quo -- in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis -- actual or perceived -- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

-- Milton Friedman (1912-2006), American economist, Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Preface