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)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get Back

Get BackSomehow we need to get back the president we thought we elected in 2008.

-- Bill McKibben, an environmental activist, reacting after President Obama abandoned a plan for stricter air pollution guidelines, New York Times, 3 September 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Local Hero

Project GutenbergIf what you did yesterday still seems great today, then your goals for tomorrow are not big enough.

-- Michael Stern Hart (8 March 1947 - 6 September 2011, in Urbana), American author, best known as inventor of the electronic book (or ebook) and founder of Project Gutenberg, a project to make ebooks freely available via the Internet; most of the early postings were typed by Hart himself

I met Michael Hart in the mid 70's when I was still in high school. He was selling stereo equipment on the side, and I bought a pair of speakers from him. I recall his phone number at the time was FLY-HART (359-4278).

Monday, September 12, 2011

TMND, Sept 18-24, 2001

Woolworth Building, 18 September 2001*****************************************************
Tuesday Sept. 18, 2001 :: EMAIL EDITION



TMNS Contributor

What happened on that terrible Tuesday, September 11, 2001, was a tragedy
that profoundly affected us all. We stood motionless as we witnessed the
unthinkable become reality. We gasped as we saw twin towers crumble, and we
cried as we watched grown men weep. And then we were drawn together, as
communities and as a nation, to seek a collective consolation from those
around us -- our families, our friends, our colleagues.

Theodore Roosevelt wrote that "Death is always, and under all
circumstances, a tragedy, for if it is not, then it means that life itself
has become one." The great calamity that struck our nation was much more
than death. It was a vicious act that struck at the heart of America and
touched the souls of each of her citizens.

Friday night my younger daughter and I lit candles and stood on the
sidewalk in front of our safe, suburban house. We joined a handful of
neighbors and became links in a remarkable chain of candle bearers that
stretched from sea to somber sea.

* * *

My daughter has not talked much about the attacks. She was at a friend's
house that morning preparing for school pictures to be taken later in the
day. She saw the second jet crash into the second tower.

She developed a bad cold by Thursday and spent that day and the next at
home, watching the television coverage. She sat with me each night,
watching the events unfold. And still she did not talk about them.

Not until this week did the deep subconscious wounds bleed with
uncontrolled anger and frustration. And denial that anything was wrong. She
reminded me that she had seen bad things before. She remembers watching and
reading the news about Columbine High School, and she remembers witnessing
a schoolmate and a parent die as they were struck by a runaway bus at her
Albuquerque elementary school.

Her mother and I talked with her last night, explaining that it is not
unusual for a person to experience stress and anxiety months or years after
an event. It is hard to explain to a 12-year-old about post-traumatic
stress disorder.

* * *

I first learned of the attacks while talking on the telephone with my wife,
who was in Reno on business. We were having our morning talk when she
uttered, "Oh, my god. A building is on fire in New York."

She soon became one of the thousands of people stranded when the planes
were grounded. By Wednesday morning, she was driving a rented car across
Nevada's high desert, en route to Salt Lake City.

She did not look forward to what she knew would be an ordeal at the airport
Sunday morning. She arrived five hours before her scheduled departure.
There was no one at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter, she said, but
the line for Delta "snaked through the terminal."

It took fifteen minutes to hand search her checked luggage. Security
personnel also rummaged through her purse and laptop computer bag looking
for knives, corkscrews and letter openers. None was found and she was
allowed through the security stop. As she walked to her gate, she passed a
gift shop that normally offers for sale souvenir knives, corkscrews and
letter openers. She didn't stop to see if those items were still being
offered. If so, the nation's airports have a few kinks to work out if
they're going to get this security thing to succeed.

* * *

News reports tell of long lines at airports for whatever flights remain.
For now, at least, impatient American travelers have traded their
irritation for some semblance of security. Airport inconvenience is a small
price to pay to be relatively assured you will reach your destination

One cannot be totally free and totally secure. It must be a Taoist thing:
"To be free is to be confined."

Freedom and security sit on opposite ends of a seesaw, teeter-tottering
with the needs of the nation. If we are to be totally free, then we give
up all security. If we are to be totally secure, then we relinquish all of
our freedoms. If you need examples, just look at China, North Korea, Libya,
or a dozen other countries. When was the last time any of them suffered an
external terrorist attack? The people of those countries are totally
secure, but they have no freedoms.

What freedoms are the American people willing to give up to be secure? A
man from Arkansas, visiting Washington, D.C. on the day of the attacks,
noted that the terrorists win if we become a closed society. It can also be
said that terrorists will win if we remain an open society. I'm not sure
we've fully grasped the constitutional ramifications of Terrible Tuesday.

* * *

It has been interesting to note that the debate over religion has been set
aside while the nation seeks comfort and guidance. Children and their
teachers are praying in schools. The national day of mourning is led by
services in the National Cathedral. President Bush invokes the name of God
at every appearance. We had wrapped God in the flag, put them both in a
drawer, and allowed certain factions to lock them up and throw away the
key. And then came Terrible Tuesday. Americans broke the lock, displayed
the flag, and prayed to God for forgiveness and strength.

Some of us searched the old books for scriptures that would provide us
light and hope as we stumbled through darkness and fear. "He will swallow
up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all
faces," the prophet Isaiah assures us from across the millennia.

Like little children, we ask why. Then our children turn to us and ask the
same question. But the answer does not come.

And then I remember an old gospel song and try to find answers from its

When death has found and taken our loved ones, Leaving our home so lonely
and drear, Then do we wonder why others prosper, Living so wicked year
after year. Farther along we'll know more about it. Farther along we'll
understand why. Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine. We'll
understand it all by and by.

TMNS Contributor

A different type of fear came over the streets of Washington. On every
intersection of Georgetown, there were humvees and camouflage-clad military
people directing traffic. Some of these had "MP" written on their armbands.

Scary? Yes. But not simply for the danger these generally good-natured
folks were protecting us from. It is scary in itself, of a different kind,
to see military on the street. It was still more bothersome when I could
spot a few places where they were not, but should have been.

It would have been nice to see fighters overhead on patrol. I saw none. But
there is no shortage of troops to direct the traffic and ordinary transport
in a relatively non-sensitive area. Military police, they were, rather than
ordinary police. Such a scene is a painful reminder that the enemy, in some
respects other than the physical destruction of life and property, has won
for a time.

Two words come to mind: Just barely.

If they won it is only temporary and just barely. But "just barely" is also
a measure of how tolerable it is to have troops in the street, to have talk
of vague war against a concept (terrorism) rather than defined individuals
and states, and to hear repeatedly the medias sinister-sounding talk of
life "changed forever." The war against "Communism" should have been a war
against Soviet expansion, not a general crusade that meandered
destructively through Vietnam and various killing fields in Latin America,
where the evil "war on drugs" is helping decimate Colombia.

It is a brutal truth that relatively targeted preventive measures, and not
mass surveillance, could have worked last week. Cockpits inaccessible to
passengers. Aircraft on patrol rather than on call to "scramble" over our
key cities. FBI "watch" alerts that the Immigration and Naturalization
Service pays attention to. We dont need to sacrifice everything, despite
the insidious talk of life changing forever.

Should we be on a war footing? No question. But war brings intrusive
measures that tend to overstay: income tax withholding, military drafts,
and elusive health insurance tied to employment are lesser historic
examples. We should cooperate, but not accept measures that require
permanent surrender of our American-ness or even permanent surrender of
common sense. The talk of expanding surveillance powers, of unprecedented
secrecy and press restrictions, is ominous -- perhaps necessary, and then
again, perhaps not.

In short, should we tolerate the increased security presence everywhere?
Yes. Should we give the benefit of the doubt to intrusive and secret steps
underway? Probably. But if so, we should accept it with an eye on what it
means to be American. And therefore we should do accept it in the following

Just barely.


Listen, all of you. Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you. Pray for
the happiness of those who curse you;
implore God's blessing on those who
hurt you. . . . Do you think you
deserve credit for merely loving
those who love you? Even the godless
do that.

-- Jesus Christ (quoted by
St. Luke)

Friday, September 09, 2011

TMND, Fri, Sept 14, 2001

FRIDAY :: September 14, 2001 :: EMAIL EDITION


EDITOR'S NOTE: On Tuesday, as the magnitude of the
tragedies that had just happened began to become
clear, our contributor Matt Hogan filed a response,
and we immediately provided a link to it. Because
we believe it deserves to be read widely, we're
reprinting it here today. -- C.D.

TMNS Contributor

They said that all monuments were closed, but tourists ambled around the
famous Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Still, the sight of large
groups of people crossing the bridge from the District of Columbia, and the
police closing the highway to the Pentagon, confirmed the crisis atmosphere
created by the crash of the American Airlines plane into the Pentagon and
the related sabotage-slaughter at the World Trade Center. At the nearby
Fort Myer facility, I walked past as bereted troops in fatigues inspected
each arrival.

Behind that, a plume of smoke came from one side of the headquarters of our
Defense Department.

Verbal bombs are following. Everyone is calling the terrorists "cowards" or
their actions "cowardly." Call it as you will: fanatic, evil, satanic,
dastardly; it was many things, but it was not cowardly. One person, perhaps
Orrin Hatch, has called them "cowards who would stop at nothing." The
shortsightedness of that comment is self-evident: it is the very opposite
of cowardice to be stoppable by nothing.

On the streets in Arlington an old white guy is saying how we need to close
the borders and keep the Muslims out. He lived in Saudi Arabia. I also
spent considerable time in the Middle East and I dont worry about Muslims,
just bad people who happen to be Muslims. (It also might be a good idea if
in the long run we got our own explosives out of the Middle East.) I fear
there will be a backlash against ethnic and religious groups by vigilantes
and mobs -- the same savage mentalities as the bombers themselves.

The media is fanning the flames of tyranny, trying to goad commentators to
say that we must now change our whole lives for the sake of security.
Rubbish. The people who tried to turn the Pentagon into the Square should
not be allowed to turn the free and the brave into slaves of fear. Let's
find the guilty and any sponsors and breathe fiery judgment. Let's solve
any underlying political issues that enable the guilty to circulate and

From New York I learn that my brother who works for local TV is OK while
covering the event. My uncle used to work in the World Trade Center but
died a few years ago. Many people we know must at least know someone who
works there. It is conceivable that tens of thousands are dead. (I am not
an architect, but why should the whole building collapse when the top is

I do agree the likely suspect is Osama bin-Laden. The method is familiar
-- multiple attacks, no claim of responsibility, a level of intelligent
organization. The targets dealt with American world power and foreign power
which usually dont bother militia type groups. The fact that they chose the
Pentagon is revealing as well. Palestinians dont have much grudge against
the American military, but the Osama people do because of U.S. military
presence in Saudi Arabia.

Another questionable comment is that this is unprecedented in America. Not
really. The British occupied New York in the Revolution and the rebels
burned a good part of it. In the War of 1812, the British burned
Washington. In the Civil War, the Yankees burned Atlanta. As deliberate
targeting of civilians in American history goes, however, this is
nonetheless a doozy.

Find the guilty. Kill them, preferably after due process; punish their
sponsors. Don't be blaming religions and ethnic groups. Realize that they
are not cowards. Also realize that intentionally killing civilians is
nothing that odd for people at war: we razed Japan, killing hundreds of

"There is no morality in war," is the quote of the American pilot who
dropped the A-bomb and never lost a nights sleep. And the attackers of New
York and Washington obviously feel the same.


Listen, all of you. Love your enemies.
Do good to those who hate you. Pray for
the happiness of those who curse you;
implore God's blessing on those who
hurt you. . . . Do you think you
deserve credit for merely loving
those who love you? Even the godless
do that.

-- Jesus Christ (quoted by
St. Luke)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

TMND, Weds, Sep 12, 2001

WEDNESDAY :: September 12, 2001 :: EMAIL EDITION


Several passengers aboard at least two of the four airliners hijacked by
terrorists on Tuesday managed to call home on their cell phones before
crashing, telling families of their love and giving brief but horrific
descriptions of what was happening in the air.

One woman, aboard the plane that was about to strike the second World Trade
Center tower in New York, learned via cellphone that a hijacked plane had
plowed into the first tower, and she was apparently able to relay that
information to other passengers before they, too, struck one of the twin


SYMPATHY FROM CHINA: Xiaochun Li, our correspondent
in China, sent this email message Wednesday morning:
"I am very sorry to have heard about the attack on
the USA. I offer my deepest sympathy! Could I
contribute my blood to the needy? Why human beings?
-- from a most, most, most common Chinese."

Two men -- Mark Bingham of California and Jeremy Glick of New Jersey -- who
were passengers on the plane that eventually crashed near Pittsburgh called
out on their cell phones, and both indicated that a group of passengers was
going to take action against the hijackers, The Washington Post reported.

Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha said he believes a struggle took place in the
cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 as the plane headed for a significant
target in Washington, D.C.

"There had to have been a struggle and someone heroically kept the plane
from heading to Washington," crashing it instead in rural Pennsylvania,
Murtha said.

One caller said the hijackers began killing stewardesses in the rear of the
plane to lure the pilots out of the cabin. Information from callers
indicated that the hijackers were armed with knives and box-cutters and
made bomb threats.

The Bush administration said Wednesday that "credible" security information
had indicated that the White House and Air Force One were both targets of
the well-planned attack -- explaining why President Bush delayed returning
to the White House on Tuesday. The plane that struck the Pentagon may have
been aimed at the White House, officials said.

A LESSON RELEARNED: Pearl Harbor taught us the same
lesson fifty years ago that the World Trade Center
taught us today -- when you fail to bring the fight
to the enemy, he will bring the fight to you.

-- TMND Correspondent Jim Skoog

Armed cops and FBI agents stormed the 36-story Westin Hotel in Boston on
Wednesday and arrested three people, after federal authorities linked them
to the credit card allegedly used to purchase tickets on the hijacked
flights, The Boston Globe said. However, FBI Director Robert Mueller later
said that no arrests in connection with the hijackings had yet been made.
Also searched was the Park Inn at Chestnut Hill, in a Boston suburb.

Boston newspapers said authorities had identified five Arab men as
suspects, and had found a rental car containing Arabic-language flight
training manuals at Boston's Logan International Airport, from which two of
the hijacked planes took off. According to the Boston Globe, investigators
found two bags, intended for one of the flights, containing a training
videotape for commercial airline pilots, a copy of the Koran, and a fuel
consumption calculator.

The FBI said Wednesday that four separate terrorist cells working together
had carried out the attack plans.

The Boston Herald said two of the suspects, brothers, entered the U.S. from
Canada. One was a trained pilot; both held passports from the United Arab

Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden was most often mentioned as the suspected
head of the organization that carried out the attacks. A Pakistani
newspaper, however, reported Wednesday that bin Laden denied involvement,
saying, "The terrorist act is the action of some American group. I have
nothing to do with it."

In Afghanistan, where bin Laden is known to have stayed for lengthy
periods, the ruling Islamic fundamentalist Taliban party reportedly
disavowed any knowledge of the terrorist plan and asked the U.S. not to
retaliate against the country.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. continued to search for survivors amid
the rubble -- in Manhattan, a five-story-high pile of concrete and twisted
metal -- and to try to absorb what had happened.

In a speech to the nation on Wednesday, President Bush said "the deliberate
and deadly attacks, which were carried out yesterday against our country,
were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war."

Casualty figures continued to grow. Some Officials estimated that as many
as 800 people may have died at the Pentagon crash site, but others put the
total at under 200. Though some Pentagon offices were open for business
early Wednesday morning, the complex was later evacuated as smoke from
burning embers continued to rise into the air.

In New York City, at least nine persons were rescued alive from the World
Trade Center rubble, and officials said a few more such rescues were still
likely. One man made repeated calls on his cell phone from beneath the

RED CROSS SEEKS HELP: The Red Cross has several Web
sites and tollfree phone numbers with information
about how individuals can help:
* For blood donors:
* To donate funds via credit card:
* Main Red Cross Web site (includes a search engine
for local Red Cross addresses):

The sites may be overloaded, unreachable at times.

Hundreds were known dead, including at least 200 firefighters. New York
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani predicted the final death toll will be "a few
thousand people" in each building of the World Trade Center.

Commercial air traffic continued to be grounded for the second day in a
row, leaving thousands of travelers stranded. The Federal Aviation
Administration announced stringent new security procedures that must be
implemented at all airports before flights can be resumed. Curbside luggage
checking will be discontinued. No knives of any size, including tiny
pocketknives and the cutlery distributed with airline meals, will be
permitted. Boarding areas will be restricted to ticketed passengers only.

Major League Baseball canceled its full schedule of games for the second
day in a row.

The New York Stock Exchange was closed again Wednesday. The last two-day
closure of the NYSE followed the assassination of President Kennedy in

Bush asked Congress for emergency funding for the rescue and cleanup


The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings,
fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have
filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and
a quiet, unyielding anger.

-- U.S. President George W. Bush,
Sept. 11, 2001

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

TMND, Tues, Sep 11, 2001

CNN Breaking News[In July 2001 I subscribed to an on-line news digest created by a laid-off news editor. 9/11 soon rolled around. I archived the news digests from that period. Re-reading these gives me that visceral feeling of being in the moment once again -- the confusion as to what happened, why it happened, and what we should do about it ... the knee-jerk reactions, and the slow shift to thoughtful reflection.

For the rest of this week and on Monday, I'm going to do a little 9/11 retrospective. Some of you may find this interesting; others may wish to skip it entirely, if it's too boring. I hope you read it and reflect; I believe there is real wisdom to be found here.]

TUESDAY :: September 11, 2001 :: EMAIL EDITION


Three hijacked passenger airliners, most likely under control of
terrorists, have crashed into and completely destroyed the twin towers of
the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the Pentagon in
Washington, D.C.

At least one other hijacked airliner has also crashed, in the Pittsburgh
area, and another plane reportedly crashed near Camp David, Maryland.

Loss of life is estimated in the thousands in what is clearly the most
massive such attack on the U.S. in history. An estimated 50,000 people work
each day in the twin towers in Manhattan. Hospitals in New York City are
overwhelmed with the injured, many of them suffering from severe burns. All
of lower Manhattan was being evacuated.

Casualties and fatalities were reported at the Pentagon.

After the mid-morning attacks, all commercial air traffic in the United
States was shut down. Officials said service would not resume until at
least Wednesday morning, at the earliest.

President Bush made an early public statement describing the events as an
"apparent terrorist attack on our country."

Later, in Louisiana, he said democracy itself had been attacked. "Make no
mistake," Bush said. "The United States will hunt down and punish those
responsible for these cowardly attacks." All "appropriate security
measures" have been taken, he said, and the U.S. military worldwide is on
high alert status.

Stock markets were closed and trading halted.

Across the country, especially in larger cities, schools and government
offices were closed along with airports. The cable TV channels MTV, VHS1
and QVC suspended their operations and carried news feeds. Major league
baseball games were canceled.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based Islamic
advocacy group, and the American Muslim Political Coordination Council,
issued statements condemning "what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts
of terrorism against innocent civilians," saying that "no political cause
could ever by assisted by such immoral acts." The groups also advised that
"those who wear Islamic attire should consider staying out of public areas
for the immediate future."


The essence of war is violence. Moderation
in war is imbecility.

-- John Abuthnot Fisher (Baron Fisher)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Status Quo

Status Quo, Alexandr Onishenko, 2008Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.

-- Laurence J. Peter (1919-1990), Canadian-born educator and "hierarchiologist", best known for the formulation of the 'Peter Principle', Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

One Percent

One percentIf you're in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.

-- Warren Buffett (30 August 1930-), American investor, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaking at a $4,600-a-seat political fundraiser in New York, the Times Online, 28 June 2007