Friday, July 31, 2015

And You've Done It

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end.  It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's a day you've had everything to do and you've done it.

-- Variously attributed to Margaret Thatcher or Lord Acton

Thursday, July 30, 2015


A composer's job involves the decoration of fragments of time.

-- Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993), American musician and composer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


To be left alone on the tightrope of youthful unknowing is to experience the excruciating beauty of full freedom and the threat of eternal indecision.

-- Maya Angelou (1928-2014), African-American poet, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Ch. 34

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Force For Good

Every day, in every community in America, scouting is changing lives -- teaching young people skills and leadership, and helping them build character and integrity.  As I said during our national annual meeting in May, due to the social, political, and legal changes taking place in our country and in our movement, I did not believe the adult leadership policy could be sustained. ...

The best way to allow the BSA to continue to focus on its mission and preserve its core values was to address the issue and set our own course. And that's what we've done.

For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us.  Now it's time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.

-- Boy Scouts of America National President and former Defense Secretary Dr. Robert M. Gates, in a statement on the end of Scouting's national ban on gay adults in scouting, 27 July 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Traditional Values

It is a strong argument for democracy that governments regulated by principles of accountability, respect for public opinion and the supremacy of just laws are more likely than an all-powerful ruler or ruling class, uninhibited by the need to honour the will of the people, to observe the traditional duties of Buddhist kingship.  Traditional values serve both to justify and to decipher popular expectations of democratic government.

-- Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-), Burmese opposition politician, "Freedom From Fear And Other Writings", (1991)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Science And Art

There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart.  The first of these is science, and the second is art.  Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber.  Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery.  The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.

-- Raymond Thornton Chandler (23 July 1888 - 26 March 1959), American novelist and screenwriter, Great Thought" (19 February 1938), published in The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler (1976)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fastest And Cheapest

If we want to reduce poverty, one of the simplest, fastest and cheapest things we could do would be to make sure that as few people as possible become parents before they actually want to.

-- Isabel Sawhill, an economist at the Brookings Institution, who supports programs, like one in Colorado, that provide access to long-acting birth control, New York Times, July 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Single Ray Of Light

A single ray of light from a distant star falling upon the eye of a tyrant in bygone times may have altered the course of his life, may have changed the destiny of nations, may have transformed the surface of the globe, so intricate, so inconceivably complex are the processes in Nature.  In no way can we get such an overwhelming idea of the grandeur of Nature than when we consider, that in accordance with the law of the conservation of energy, throughout the Infinite, the forces are in a perfect balance, and hence the energy of a single thought may determine the motion of a universe.

-- Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), physicist, inventor, and electrical engineer, "On Light And Other High Frequency Phenomena", a lecture delivered before the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia (24 February 1893)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Toy Store

I don't think any one of us could have imagined that this could have been a better toy store.

-- S. Alan Stern, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto, on the images it has captured, New York Times, 16 July 2015

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Reservoir Of Trust

We have to reflect on what these issues mean, and when we have a controversial case -- and a very difficult case like (same-sex marriage) -- we draw down on a capital of trust, a deposit of trust.  We spend that capital of trust, and we have to rebuild that capital.  We have to put new deposits, new substance into this reservoir of trust.

-- Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (23 July 1936-), on the effect of controversial rulings, in remarks at the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference, 15 July 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Room

Nothing pleases me more than to go into a room and come out with a piece of music.

-- James Paul McCartney (18 June 1942-), English singer-songwriter, composer, and founding member of The Beatles, Interview in Playboy (1984)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guns, Knives, And Clubs

Java is C++ without the guns, knives, and clubs.

-- James Gosling, co-inventor of Java; Cited in: David Parsons (2001) Object Oriented Programming with C++. p. 19

Monday, July 13, 2015


Retribution is a valid societal interest.

-- Dale Cox, the acting district attorney in Cadda Parish, LA, and one of the most prolific seekers of the death penalty in the nation, New York Times, 8 July 2015

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Road To Wisdom

The road to wisdom?
    Well, it's plain and simple to express:
    and err
    and err again
but less
    and less
    and less.

-- Piet Hein (1905-1996), Danish mathematician, scientist, inventor, and poet, Grooks (1966), "The Road to Wisdom?"

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Outboard Brain

I love this business of having an outboard brain.  Just as having a calculator liberates you from being a shitty human spreadsheet and allows you to do real math, having the Internet liberates you from being a shitty human encyclopedia and allows you to do real synthetic thought.  Every interesting thing that crosses my transom, and there's a seemingly infinite number of them, I turn into a post that explains to strangers why it's interesting.  This is powerfully mnemonic, it joins a kind of super dense cloud of fragmentary ideas that kind of knock around in my subconscious and eventually two of them glom together and nucleate and turn into novels, or speeches, or essays.  It's wonderful to not have to bother yourself with the minutiae and be able to look at bigger, more synthetic questions

-- Cory Efram Doctorow (17 July 1971), Canadian-British blogger, journalist, and science fiction author, Intelligence Squared, 1 July 2015

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Rat Czar

Anybody who's in charge of eradicating rats in New York knows exactly what Sisyphus felt like.

-- Joseph J. Lhota, once designated the New York "rat czar," on the city's longtime rodent problem, New York Times, 25 June 2015

Monday, July 06, 2015

Firewall In Our Brain

All of us have a natural firewall in our brain that keeps us from bad ideas.  They look for weaknesses in the wall, and then they attack.

-- Nasser Weddady, a Middle East expert, on the effort the Islamic State makes to indoctrinate recruits, New York Times, 28 June 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Long Train

Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
-- Thomas Jefferson, in the US Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Tick Tick Tick

In the International System of Units (SI), a second is defined as 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a cesium-133 atom, specifically (per the International Bureau of Weights and Measures), that many "periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom."