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