Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free Cheese

Free cheese is only found in a mousetrap.

-- Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk, an opposition politician in Ukraine, referring to $15 billion in loans promised to his country by President Vladimir Putin of Russia, NY Times, 18 December 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Path You Beat

Life is the path you beat while you walk it.  It is the walking that beats the path.  It is not the path that makes the walk.

-- Antonio Cipriano Jose Maria y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz (1875-1939), known as Antonio Machado, Spanish poet

Monday, December 16, 2013

Indiscriminate And Arbitrary

I cannot imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary" invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.  ...  Surely, such a program infringes on "that degree of privacy" that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. ...

The question that I will ultimately have to answer when I reach the merits of this case someday is whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the government, without any basis whatsoever to suspect them of any wrongdoing, collects and stores for five years their telephony metadata for purposes of subjecting it to high-tech querying and analysis without any case-by-case judicial approval.

-- Federal Judge Richard J. Leon of the District of Columbia, issuing an injunction against NSA collection of phone metadata, 16 December 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Big Balloon

I don't see anything here that is going to harm the basic investment processes in the economy.  Before the crisis we had lots of trading, lots of liquidity. ...  What happened?  We had a big balloon.

-- Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, on the so-called Volcker Rule, a provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, adopted this week by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Federal Reserve Bank, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, 11 December 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Global Government Surveillance Reform

We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens.  But this summer's revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide.  The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual -- rights that are enshrined in our Constitution.  This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for a change.

For our part, we are focused on keeping users' data secure -- deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope.

We urge the US to take the lead and make reforms that ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law, proportionate to the risks, transparent and subject to independent oversight.  To see the full set of principles we support, visit

-- An open letter to Washington from AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, 9 December 2013

Monday, December 09, 2013


Humans are allergic to change.  They love to say, "We've always done it this way." I try to fight that.  That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.

-- Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992), US Naval officer, and an early computer programmer; developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language, "The Wit and Wisdom of Grace Hopper" by Philip Schieber in OCLC Newsletter, No. 167 (March/April 1987)

Friday, December 06, 2013

Evangelii Gaudium

[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.  This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.  Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

-- Pope Francis (17 December 1936-), Evangelii Gaudium, 24 November 2013

Thursday, December 05, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people.  I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination.  I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.  It is an ideal which I hope to live for.  But, my lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

-- Nelson Mandela (18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013), South African political activist, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and first President of South Africa in the post-apartheid era, statement in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, 20 April 1964

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Pension AFU

Constitution of the State of Illinois

Membership in any pension or retirement system of the State, any unit of local government or school district, or any agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be an enforceable contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.


I'll be interested to see how that reconciles with the apparent 30% reduction in the 20-year value of my pension that just got voted into law in Illinois.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Not What You're Going To Remember

Don't mistake my kindness for weakness.  I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.

-- Alphonse Gabriel Capone (1899-1947), American gangster

Monday, December 02, 2013

Facts And Opinions

Opinions don't affect facts.  But facts should affect opinions, and do, if you're rational.

-- Ricky Gervais (1961-),English comedian, actor, and writer, on Twitter as @rickygervais, 9:21 AM, 4 October 2012

Monday, November 25, 2013


I would like to say to the Iranian people:  You are not our enemies and we are not yours.  There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically.

-- Israeli President Shimon Peres regarding the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries, the US, Britain, China, Russia, France, and Germany, CNN, 25 November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nuclear Option

It's past time to fix Congress and make the legislative process work in a way that puts the American people ahead of petty politics.  It's past time Congress begins working together to move this country forward.

-- Senator Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.), one of three Democrats to side unsuccessfully with Republicans against changing Senate procedure regarding the filibuster, in a statement after the vote, 21 November 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Troublesome And Fatiguing

Most of us seldom take the trouble to think.  It is a troublesome and fatiguing process and often leads to uncomfortable conclusions.  But crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.

-- Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), Indian politican, first Prime Minister of India, The Unity of India: Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942), p94

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm Outside

Oh my God.  I'm outside.  You see this on TV all of the time, but you never think it will happen to you.

-- Pat Whitaker, 82, of Gifford, IL on finding herself outdoors after having been upstairs at home when a tornado struck, 17 November 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013


There's tons of magic in the world, and it's all science.

-- Martha Beck (29 November 1962-), The Four Technologies of Magic, at TEDx San Diego 2011

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Family Mission Statement

Family mission statement:

To cooperatively construct and maintain a safe, nurturing place to practice exercising our judgment, and respecting the judgment of others, in order to develop as autonomous individuals who are ready to contribute to the greater good while finding personal fulfillment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day

Sitting in front of my fireplace, basking in it's warm glow gives me time to reflect upon the sacrifices that it has taken for me to enjoy the security of a good home, in a safe environment.  I can hear the soft whisper of the snow as it caresses my window and covers the ground outside in a scintillating display of sparkling lights under the full moon.  How many times have our service men and women watched this same scene from a foxhole, or camped in some remote part of the world.  Thankful for the silence of that moment, knowing it won't last long.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  He/she dresses in fatigues and patrols the world restlessly, ensuring that we can have this peaceful night.  Every day they give us the gift of this lifestyle that we enjoy, and every night they watch over us.  They are warriors, angels, guardians, friends, brothers, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, forming a family that stretches back to the beginning of the country.  So tonight when you go to bed say a prayer that God watch over those who watch over us, and thank them for their sacrifices, on and off the battlefield.  Pray that they have a peaceful night, and will be home soon with their families who also share their burden.  Without them we would not have this moment.

-- Neil Leckman

Thursday, November 07, 2013


just setting up my twttr
2:50 PM - 21 Mar 2006

-- Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey @jack in the first Twitter post; Twitter's IPO opened at $45.10 on its first day of 7 November 2013, giving it a valuation of $31.5 billion

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Illinois Is So Gay

Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history.

-- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, in a statement after the Illinois House passed a bill legalizing gay marriage, 5 November 2013

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Too Big To Jail

Sometimes, blame-worthy institutions need to be held accountable, too. No institution should rest easy in the belief that it is too big to jail. That is a moral hazard that a just society can ill afford.

-- US Attorney Preet Bharara on the $1.8 billion settlement of criminal charges against SAC Capital Advisors, 4 November 2013

Monday, November 04, 2013


Hold me accountable for the debacle. I'm responsible.

-- Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a House committee hearing on the troubles with the health care website, New York Times, 31 October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Not Merely Freedom

Democracies need not merely freedom to think and talk, but universal information and vigorous mental training

-- Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), British writer, in a 1937 essay first published in The Strand Magazine, 1 November 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


We're really screwed now.  You know things are bad when the few friends you've got disappear without a trace in the dead of night and leave no forwarding address.

-- An unnamed NSA official, reacting to a statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein, 28 October 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not Satisfactorily Informed

Unlike NSA's collection of phone records under a court order, it is clear to me that certain surveillance activities have been in effect for more than a decade and that the Senate Intelligence Committee was not satisfactorily informed.  Therefore our oversight needs to be strengthened and increased ....  Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers.  The president should be required to approve any collection of this sort.

-- Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), statement on reports the National Security Agency has conducted surveillance on leaders of foreign countries, 28 October 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

One chord is fine.  Two chords are pushing it.  Three chords and you're into jazz.

-- Lou Reed (2 March 1942 - 27 October 2013), American rock singer-songwriter and guitarist

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This Would Be Paradise

Man can now fly in the air like a bird, swim under the ocean like a fish, he can burrow into the ground like a mole.  Now if only he could walk the earth like a man, this would be paradise.

-- Tommy Douglas (1904-1986), Scottish-born Canadian Baptist minister and politician

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Genius Of Memory

The charm, one might say the genius of memory, is that it is choosy, chancy and temperamental; it rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust.

-- Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), novelist

Monday, October 21, 2013


A man who has to be punctually at a certain place at five o'clock has the whole afternoon from one to five ruined for him already.

-- Lin Yutang (1895-1976), Chinese writer and translator, The Importance of Living (1937)

Friday, October 18, 2013


Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.

-- George Carlin (1937-2008), American stand-up comedian, social critic, philosopher, and satirist

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Round 2

I'll vote against it.  But that will get us into Round 2.  See, we're going to start this all over again.

-- Representative John C. Fleming (R-LA), referring to the Senate plan to reopen the federal government and raise the debt ceiling

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Within Your Borders

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks.  I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.  You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.  Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.  You have neither solicited nor received ours.  We did not invite you.  You do not know us, nor do you know our world.  Cyberspace does not lie within your borders.

-- John Perry Barlow (3 October 1947-), American poet, essayist, and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (1996)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Not Unpleasant

You may imagine that this is not unpleasant.

-- Francois Englert, after learning that he was a winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, New York Times, 9 October 2013

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Deliver Us

We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness and our pride.  Deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.

-- Barry C. Black, chaplain of the United States Senate, in a morning invocation during last week's budget battles, NY Times, 7 October 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

Rene Cruz On Happiness

Happiness: If you are person i, your happiness function H(i) depends on both your "state of being," X(i), and on other persons' state of being, X(j), for all "n" persons in your social network:

H(i)  = H(j)  [X(1), X(2) ... X(n)]

-- Rene Leonardo Cruz (1959-2013), Network Calculus pioneer, UCSD Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Interest We Have To Pay

Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher, Our Relation To Ourselves

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Long Day(s)

Oops, upstream data corrupted the database.

So, yesterday I worked 13:20, starting at about 9am.  And today I went back and worked 11:35, finishing a little past 7:30pm.  So I think I just worked 24 hours and 55 minutes during a period that was only 34 hours and 35 minutes long.

I'll be back in tomorrow, and I expect the day to be much calmer.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lemmings With Suicide Vests

Lemmings with suicide vests.  They have to be more than just a lemming. Because jumping to your death is not enough.

-- Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) on House Republicans who are willing to see the government shut down over their opposition to Obamacare, quoted on the Washington Post's "Post Politics" blog, 30 September 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013


As I grow older, I regret to say that a detestable habit of thinking seems to be getting a hold of me.

-- H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925), English writer of adventure novels, King Solomon's Mines (1885)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

He Knows Already

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

-- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian writer, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894), Chapter III

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dangerous Gift

To be apt in quotation is a splendid and dangerous gift.  Splendid, because it ornaments a man's speech with other men's jewels; dangerous, for the same reason.

-- Robertson Davies (1913-1995), Canadian novelist, Dangerous Jewels (1960)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Silence Is The Element

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together; that at length they may emerge, full-formed and majestic, into the daylight of Life, which they are thenceforth to rule.

-- Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), Scottish essayist, satirist, and historian, Sartor Resartus, Book III, chapter 3 (1833-1834)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Eagle

As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.

-- Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968), American writer and social activist

Monday, September 16, 2013

Truth Burns Up Error

Truth burns up error.

-- Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), aka Isabella Bomefree, former slave, author, and social activist, in The Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Thursday, September 12, 2013


It's too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments.  But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force.

-- President Obama, on a proposal for international monitors to take over and destroy Syria's chemical weapons, 10 September 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Defence Wanted

In International
        the players must reckon
            to reap what they've sown.

We have a defence
    against other defences,
        but what's to defend us
            against our own?

-- Piet Hein (1905-1996), Danish poet and scientist, "Defence Wanted"

Monday, September 09, 2013

Those Days

I haven't gone horseback riding in four years.  I haven't ruled that out entirely.  But water skiing, those days are over.

-- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 80, on concessions she has made to aging, though she remains healthy, New York Times, 25 August 2013

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

War Powers

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm the President of the world's oldest constitutional democracy.  I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.

-- President Obama speaking about Syria, 31 August 2013