Wednesday, July 31, 2013


None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to execute a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order pursuant to section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861) that does not include the following sentence: "This Order limits the collection of any tangible things (including telephone numbers dialed, telephone numbers of incoming calls, and the duration of calls) that may be authorized to be collected pursuant to this Order to those tangible things that pertain to a person who is the subject of an investigation described in section 501 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1861).".

-- Amendment to H.R. 2397, as Reported Offered by Mr. Amash of Michigan (R-MI), narrowly defeated (217-205) in the House of Representatives, 24 July 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Connecting Things

Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something.  It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.  And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

-- Steve Jobs (1955-2011), American technology entrepreneur

Friday, July 26, 2013

Remember The Ladies

I long to hear that you have declared independence -- and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.  Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands.  Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.  If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.

-- Abigail Adams (1744-1818), wife of John Adams, second President of the United States, in a letter to John Adams, 31 March 1776

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We And They

All the people like us are We,
And everyone else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But -- would you believe it?
They look upon We,
As only a sort of They!

-- Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936), English author and poet, We And They

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Snow For Rodrigo

A couple of years ago I had a foreign exchange student from Brazil stay at my house for about a year.  Rodrigo was from Curitiba, ParanĂ¡, Brazil, and had never seen snow until November of that year at our house.

Yesterday it snowed in Curitiba for the first time in 38 years.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Could He Have?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

-- President Obama's statement after the acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges related to the killing of Trayvon Martin, 19 July 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

I Alone

I will accept any rules that you feel necessary to your freedom.  I am free, no matter what rules surround me.  If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them.  I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.

-- Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as "state" and "society" and "government" have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.  He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.  But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.

-- Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966)

Monday, July 15, 2013


Whistleblowing is the moral response to immoral activity by those in power. What's important here are government programs and methods, not data  about individuals.  I understand I am asking for people to engage in illegal and dangerous behavior.  Do it carefully and do it safely, but -- and I am talking directly to you, person working on one of these secret and probably illegal programs -- do it.

If you see something, say something.  There are many people in the U.S. that will appreciate and admire you.

For the rest of us, we can help by protesting this war on whistleblowers. We need to force our politicians not to punish them -- to investigate the abuses and not the messengers -- and to ensure that those unjustly persecuted can obtain redress.

Our government is putting its own self-interest ahead of the interests of the country.  That needs to change.

-- Bruce Schneier, Government Secrets and the Need for Whistleblowers, The Atlantic (6 June 2013)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Trading Privacy For Convenience

If the government demanded that we all carry tracking devices 24/7, we would rebel.  Yet we all carry cell phones.  If the government demanded that we deposit copies of all of our messages to each other with the police, we'd declare their actions unconstitutional.  Yet we all use Gmail and Facebook messaging and SMS.  If the government demanded that we give them access to all the photographs we take, and that we identify all of the people in them and tag them with locations, we'd refuse.  Yet we do exactly that on Flickr and other sites.

Ray Ozzie is right when he said that we got what we asked for when we told the government we were scared and that they should do whatever they  wanted to make us feel safer.  But we also got what we asked for when we traded our privacy for convenience, trusting these corporations to look out for our best interests.

We're living in a world of feudal security.  And if you watch "Game of Thrones," you know that feudalism benefits the powerful -- at the expense of the peasants.

-- Bruce Schneier, Trading Privacy for Convenience (13 June 2013)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Inconvenient Minorities

The relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion.  The law is no protection.  Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.

-- George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair, 1903-1950), English novelist and journalist, Freedom of the Park, Tribune, 7 December 1945

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness.  The same cannot be said of the Court's opinion today.  The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled.  Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.  See supra, at 18-19.  Without even identifying a standard of review, the Court dismissively brushes off arguments based on "data from the record," and declines to enter the "debat[e about] what [the] record shows".  One would expect more from an opinion striking at the heart of the Nation's signal piece of civil-rights legislation.

-- US Supreme Court Chief Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent of the SCOTUS decision invalidating a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, 25 June 2013

Monday, July 08, 2013


Five-mile training run gets out of control, turns into my first half marathon ever. Kept it under two hours, barely.

Ran 13.16 mi on 07/08/2013
Distance: 13.16 mi, Duration: 1:58:59, Pace: 9:03 min/mi

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Other Shoe

In sum, that Court which finds it so horrific that Congress irrationally and hatefully robbed same-sex couples of the "personhood and dignity" which state legislatures conferred upon them, will of a certitude be similarly appalled by state legislatures' irrational and hateful failure to acknowledge that "personhood and dignity" in the first place.  As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe.

-- Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his dissent to the Court's decision on the Defense Of Marriage Act, 26 June 2013

Monday, July 01, 2013


Our country has changed.  While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions. ...

Congress -- if it is to divide the states -- must identify those jurisdictions to be singled out on a basis that makes sense in light of current conditions.  It cannot simply rely on the past.

-- US Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the majority, invalidating a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, 25 July 2013