Monday, January 30, 2012

Complex Garden

Water drop on a leafWe have inherited an incredibly beautiful and complex garden, but the trouble is that we have been appallingly bad gardeners. We have not bothered to acquaint ourselves with the simplest principles of gardening. By neglecting our garden, we are storing up for ourselves, in the not very distant future, a world catastrophe as bad as any atomic war, and we are doing it with all the bland complacency of an idiot child chopping up a Rembrandt with a pair of scissors.

-- Gerald Durrell (1925-1995), naturalist, zookeeper, and author, Two in the Bush (1966)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A World Of His Own

Barcode worldI suppose every child has a world of his own -- and every man, too, for the matter of that. I wonder if that's the cause for all the misunderstanding there is in Life?

-- Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), British author, mathematician, and clergyman, Sylvie and Bruno, Chapter 4: A Cunning Conspiracy (1889)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


OptimismI have great faith in optimism as a guiding principle, if only because it offers us the opportunity of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I hope we've learnt something from the most barbaric century in history -- the 20th. I would like to see us overcome our tribal divisions and begin to think and act as if we were one family. That would be real globalisation.

-- Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), British author, inventor, and futurist, 90th Birthday Reflections (2007)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Freedom Of Movement

Freedom of movementThe right to travel enables the free exercise of the other rights we most cherish. We should not have to check our constitutional freedoms at the curb simply because we decide to leave the house. Sadly, freedom of movement has been one of the most disparaged rights throughout human history, and our country is no exception. If we are ever to be truly free, then we must possess an absolute, uninhibited right to travel throughout America and the world free from interference by government.

-- Judge Andrew Napolitano,, 19 December 2011

Monday, January 23, 2012

GPS Vs. Fourth Amendment

FBI GPS Tracking device teardownHolding: Attaching a GPS device to a vehicle and then using the device to monitor the vehicle's movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.

Judgment: Affirmed, in an opinion by Justice Scalia on January 23, 2012. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion. Justice Alito also filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. The five concurring members of the Court do not resolve the question of whether the search was reasonable in this case.

-- SCOTUS opinion in United States v. Jones, 23 January 2012

Friday, January 20, 2012

A First

Dark WikipediaThis is the first real test of the political strength of the Web, and regardless of how things go, they are no longer a pushover. The Web taking a stand against one of the most powerful lobbyers and seeming to get somewhere is definitely a first.

-- Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School on the efforts by the technology industry to fight Congressional bills aimed at curbing online piracy, New York Times, 18 January 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Never In My Life

MonkeyI have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me.

-- Dudley Field Malone (1882-1950), attorney, politician, liberal activist and actor, defending John T. Scopes (with Clarence Darrow) in the famous "Monkey Trial"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Keystone XL

Anti Keystone XL demonstrationThe rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline's impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment. As a result, the secretary of state has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department's report, I agree. ...

This announcement is not a judgment on the merits of the pipeline, but the arbitrary nature of a deadline that prevented the State Department from gathering the information necessary to approve the project and protect the American people.

-- President Barack Obama, formally rejecting Canadian energy company TransCanada's Keystone XL project, a $7 billion oil pipeline linking tar sands in Alberta to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, 18 January 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How Can It Be

halfFor every man, education will have to be a process which continues all his life. We have to abandon the idea that schooling is something restricted to youth. How can it be, in a world where half the things a man knows at 20 are no longer true at 40 -- and half the things he knows at 40 hadn't been discovered when he was 20?

-- Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), British author, inventor, and futurist

Monday, January 16, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here

Where do we go from hereToday the poor are less often dismissed, I hope, from our consciences by being branded as inferior or incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.

The problem indicates that our emphasis must be twofold. We must create full employment or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted.

-- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), civil rights activist, Nobel laureate, Where Do We Go From Here?, address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (16 August 1967)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Black Hat

Black hatDefinition for the day:

Philosopher (n): a blind person in a dark room looking for a black hat which is not there.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Faint Light

A cancleWandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: "My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly." The stranger is a theologian.

-- Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, Addition to Philosophical Thoughts, Number VIII (1770)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Lesson For You There

ToleranceIn the name of tolerance, we're not being tolerated.

-- Bishop Thomas J. Paprock, of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., which is losing state contracts because it refuses to consider same-sex couples as foster parents, New York Times, 29 December 2011

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


An owl with an open book, wearing a hatSome would be sages if they did not believe they were so already.

-- Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658), Spanish Jesuit author, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Maxim 176 (1647)

Monday, January 09, 2012


I am now an Enterprise Application Specialist at AITS, the Administrative Information Technology Services, for the University of Illinois.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Infinite Capacity

Infinite Capacity cover artMost human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

-- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), British author, "Variations on a Philosopher" in Themes and Variations (1950)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Manifold Evils

evil redMere political reform will not cure the manifold evils which now afflict society. There requires a social reform, a domestic reform, an individual reform.

-- Samuel Smiles (1812-1904), Scottish author and reformer, quoted in Samuel Smiles and the Victorian Work Ethic (1987) by Timothy Travers

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Banana Republic

Banana Republic flagIt would lead us to become a banana republic, in which administrations would become regimes and each regime would feel it perfectly appropriate to disregard decisions of courts staffed by previous regimes. That's not what we are.

-- Michael B. Mukasey, President George W. Bush's attorney general, on Newt Gingrich's statement that the elected branches should be free to ignore judicial decisions, New York Times, 20 December 2011

Monday, January 02, 2012

Millionaire's Lifestyle

Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a MillionaireTo say that I'm enjoying a millionaire's lifestyle - well, I can tell you, I guess a millionaire's income doesn't go very far these days.

-- Ed Pastor (D-AZ), who is among 250 members of Congress with a net worth of $1 million or more, New York Times, 27 December 2012

From the article: While the median net worth of members of Congress jumped 15 percent from 2004 to 2010, the net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat. For all Americans, median net worth dropped 8 percent, based on inflation-adjusted data from Moody's Analytics.

Good article, particularly if you like numbers.

New York Times