Friday, October 31, 2014

Connect The Dots

You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.  So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.  This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

-- Steven Paul Jobs (1955-2011), founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc., Stanford University commencement address (12 June 2005)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sit On A Pumpkin

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion.

-- Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), American author, naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, and philosopher, Walden Pond, p 24

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Antarctic Ice Melt Rate

We use 3 years of Cryosat-2 radar altimeter data to develop the first comprehensive assessment of Antarctic ice sheet elevation change.  This new data set provides near-continuous (96%) coverage of the entire continent, extending to within 215 km of the South Pole and leading to a fivefold increase in the sampling of coastal regions where the vast majority of all ice losses occur.  Between 2010 and 2013, West Antarctica, East Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula changed in mass by -134 +/- 27, -3 +/- 36, and -23 +/- 18 Gt/yr, respectively.

-- McMillan, et al, "Increased ice losses from Antarctica detected by CryoSat-2", Geophysical Research Letters Volume 41, Issue 11, pages 3899-3905, 16 June 2014

The rate totals to 159 +/-48 Gt (gigatonnes) per year.  There are 60*60*24*365 = 31536000 seconds per year.  At the low end, the melt rate is 111,000,000,000 tonnes / 31,536,000 seconds = 3519 tonnes per second, and at the high end 207,000,000,000 / 31,536,000 = 6563 tonnes per second.  My brain can't properly imagine 35 tonnes of ice melt every 0.01 seconds.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For The Sake Of Another

Today, local economies are being destroyed by the "pluralistic," displaced, global economy, which has no respect for what works in a locality.  The global economy is built on the principle that one place can be exploited, even destroyed, for the sake of another place.

-- Wendell Berry (1934-), American philosopher, poet, farmer, and social activist, Interview in New Perspectives Quarterly (1992), quoted in his profile at The Poetry Foundation

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Groundless Pain

Whatever causes no annoyance when it is present, causes only a groundless pain in the expectation.  Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.  It is nothing, then, either to the living or to the dead, for with the living it is not and the dead exist no longer.

-- Epicurus (341 BC - 270 BC), Greek philosopher, "Letter to Menoeceus", as translated in "Stoic and Epicurean" (1910) by Robert Drew Hicks, p. 169

Friday, October 24, 2014

Find Us Working

La inspiracion existe, pero tiene que encontrarte trabajando.  Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.

-- Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 - 8 April 1973), Spanish artist, quoted in Tomas R. Villasante (1994) Las ciudades hablan: identidades y movimientos sociales en seis metropolis latinoamericanas, p. 264

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Discussion Vs. Argument

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance.

-- Verni Robert Quillen (1887-1948), American journalist and humorist, as quoted in The School Day Begins: A Guide to Opening Exercises, Grades Kindergarten - 12 (1967) by Agnes Krarup

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Least I Can Do

I happen to have a talent for allocating capital.  But my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society I was born into.  If I'd been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless.  I can't run very fast.  I'm not particularly strong.  I'd probably end up as some wild animal's dinner.

But I was lucky enough to be born in a time and place where society values my talent, and gave me a good education to develop that talent, and set up the laws and the financial system to let me do what I love doing -- and make a lot of money doing it.  The least I can do is help pay for all that.

-- Warren Edward Buffett (30 August 1930-), American investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, spoken to Barack Obama, as quoted in The Audacity Of Hope, Chapter 5 (2006)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pretty Good

Whenever you're going through a bad day just remember, your track record for getting through bad days, so far, is 100%; and that's pretty damn good.

-- Attributed to "My amazing friend (via pain-is-temporary-keep-fighting)",

Monday, October 20, 2014

Really Stop

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along." ...  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

-- Eleanor Roosevelt (1894-1962), social activist, wife of US President Franklin Roosevelt, You Learn By Living p. 29-30 (1960)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Never Too Old

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

-- C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) Irish novelist, scholar

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Congratulations, Larry F. Weber

Congratulations to PLATO's Larry Weber, who today was inducted into the Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame in a ceremony on campus.  From the program:

Visionary whose research contributed to the plasma display panel technology, its lower power consumption and higher contrast ratio; Business leader at Panasonic whose worldwide advocacy resulted in plasma TV commercialization; Founded Plasmaco

More detail at:

In addition to Larry Weber, there were 5 other inductees this year, including Max Levchin and Luke Nosek, co-founders of PayPal, and definitely the youngest.  Past inductees include Ray Ozzie (2011), Eric Bina, Don Bitzer, John Bardeen, Marc Andreessen, Shahid Khan, Nick Holonyak (2010)

Larry appears to be happy, healthy, and energetic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Easiest Thing In The World

To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world.  If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral down into ever-increasing unhappiness.  To think good thoughts, however, requires effort.  This is one of the things that discipline -- training -- is about.

-- James Clavell (1924-1994), British novelist, screenwriter, World War II hero and POW, Shogun, Chapter 5 (1975)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hallucinating Mob

TV in America created the most coherent reality distortion field that I've ever seen.  Therein is the problem: People who vote watch TV, and they are hallucinating like a sonofabitch.  Basically, what we have in this country is government by hallucinating mob.

-- John Perry Barlow (1947-) American poet, essayist, and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Interviewed in "John Perry Barlow 2.0" by Brian Doherty at ReasonOnline (August 2004)

Monday, October 13, 2014

An Annoying Place

The world is an annoying place.  Things change in undesirable ways, and other things refuse to change despite our best efforts.

-- Don Appleman, 13 October 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Grasping The Reality

But we ought to remember that religion uses language in quite a different way from science.  The language of religion is more closely related to the language of poetry than to the language of science. ...  The fact that religions through the ages have spoken in images, parables, and paradoxes means simply that there are no other ways of grasping the reality to which they refer.  But that does not mean that it is not a genuine reality.

-- Niels Henrik David Bohr (1885-1962), Jewish Danish physicist, 1922 Nobel physics laureate, remarks after the Solvay Conference (1927)

Thursday, October 09, 2014

With The Speed Of A Jet Plane

Germs have always traveled.  The problem now is they can travel with the
speed of a jet plane.

-- Howard Markel, a professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan, on the spread of Ebola beyond West Africa, New York Times, 9 October 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


She came up to me, crying, and said, "I think we can get married today."

-- Erika Turner, on her partner, Jennifer Melsop; they became the first same-sex couple to marry in Arlington County, VA, after a Supreme Court decision Monday, New York Times, 7 October 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American philosopher, essayist, and poet, Journals, 8 November 1838

Monday, October 06, 2014

Huffing And Puffing

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that's already in the world when you're born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you're thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it's been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

-- Douglas Adams (1952-2001), English author and satirist, How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, Sunday Times, 29 August 1999

Friday, October 03, 2014

[T]he man who is to wage active battle against the powers that prey ... must walk warily and fearlessly, and while he should never brawl if he can avoid it, he must be ready to hit hard if the need arises.  Let him remember, by the way, that the unforgivable crime is soft hitting.  Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.

-- Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (1858 - 1919), 26th President of the US (1901-1909), "Practical Politics" in The Outlook (26 April 1913)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What We Mean By That Word

No one is without Christianity, if we agree on what we mean by that word. It is every individual's individual code of behavior by means of which he makes himself a better human being than his nature wants to be, if he followed his nature only.  Whatever its symbol -- cross or crescent or whatever -- that symbol is s reminder of his duty inside the human race.

-- William Faulkner (1897-1962), American novelist and poet, 1949 Nobel laureate in literature, The Paris Review interview (1956) with Jean Stein

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


An athlete gains so much knowledge by just participating in a sport. Focus, discipline, hard work, goal setting and, of course, the thrill of finally achieving your goals.  These are all lessons in life.

-- Kristi Yamaguchi, world champion figure skater, as quoted in Breakthrough Power for Athletes, by David Young (2012)