Friday, June 28, 2013


DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal.  The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person.  And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities. ...

The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.  By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.  This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

-- Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion of the US Supreme Court, vacating a central aspect of the Defense Of Marriage Act, 26 June 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Plot Vs Story

A plot is about things that happen.  A story is about people who behave. To admire a story, you must be willing to listen to the people and observe them.

-- Roger Ebert (18 June 1942 - 4 April 2013), American Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic, review of "House of Sand and Fog", 26 December 2003

Monday, June 24, 2013


I believe that history will hail Snowden as a hero -- his whistleblowing exposed a surveillance state and a secrecy machine run amok.  I'm less optimistic of how the present day will treat him, and hope that the debate right now is less about the man and more about the government he exposed.

-- Bruce Schneier,, 11 June 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Irreversibly Interdependent

We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally  acceptable for others to rely on them for security -- and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.

Similarly, we must abandon the traditional approach of defining security in terms of boundaries -- city walls, border patrols, racial and religious groupings.  The global community has become irreversibly interdependent, with the constant movement of people, ideas, goods and resources.  In such a world, we must combat terrorism with an infectious security culture that crosses borders -- an inclusive approach to security based on solidarity and the value of human life.  In such a world, weapons of mass destruction have no place.

-- Mohamed El Baradei (17 June 1942-), Egyptian diplomat, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, New York Times Op-Ed Saving Ourselves From Self-Destruction" (12 February 2004)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Need To Share

In past years someone like Snowden may not have had access to briefings detailing these collection programs, but now with the push from a "need to know" to a "need to share" philosophy, it's far more likely for an IT contractor like him to gain access to such documents.

-- Former NSA Deputy Directory Cedric Leighton, on Edward Joseph Snowden, a computer technician who said he leaked secrets about surveillance programs, New York Times, 10 June 2013

Friday, June 14, 2013

Not An Act Of Invention

Myriad did not create anything.  To be sure, it found an important and useful gene, but separating that gene from its surrounding genetic material is not an act of invention.

-- Justice Clarence Thomas, in the unanimous Supreme Court decision barring the patenting of human genes, 13 June 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fits Very Well

There are only so many missile systems and Apache attack helicopters you can sell.  This push toward border security fits very well with the need to create an ongoing stream of revenue.

-- Dennis L. Hoffman, of Arizona State University, on a shift by military contractors toward projects along the U.S.-Mexico border, New York Times, 7 June 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Royal Inspection

The proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would not have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.

-- Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent from the Supreme Court's ruling that the police may take DNA samples from people arrested in connection with serious crimes, New York Times, 4 June 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Only One Smile

If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.  Don't be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning "Good morning" at total strangers.

-- Maya Angelou (1928-), African-American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, Chapter 5 (1976)