Thursday, June 27, 2019


The reasoned explanation requirement of administrative law, after all, is meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public.  Accepting contrived reasons would defeat the purpose of the enterprise.  If judicial review is to be more than an empty ritual, it must demand something better than the explanation offered for the action taken in this case.

-- Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority in Department of Commerce et al v New York et al, blocking an attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Up Hill And Down Dale

After damning politicians up hill and down dale for man years, as rogues and vagabonds, frauds and scoundrels, I sometimes suspect that, like everyone else, I often expect too much of them.  Though faith and confidence are surely more or less foreign to my nature, I not infrequently find myself looking to them to be able, diligent, candid, and even honest.  Plainly enough, that is too large an order, as anyone must realize who reflects upon the manner in which they reach public office.  They seldom if ever get there by merit alone, at least in democratic states.  Sometimes, to be sure, it happens, but only by a kind of miracle.  They are chosen normally for quite different reasons, the chief of which is simply their power to impress and enchant the intellectually underprivileged.  It is a talent like any other, and when it is exercised by a radio crooner, a movie actor or a bishop, it even takes on a certain austere and sorry respectability.  But it is obviously not identical with a capacity for the intricate problems of statecraft.

-- Henry Louis Mencken (1880 - 1956), 20th-Century journalist, satirist, and social critic, "The Politician", A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949), from a lecture before the Institute of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, 4 January 1940

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

More Truth

A very great deal more truth can become known than can be proven.

-- Richard Phillips Feynman (1918 - 1988), American physicist, "The Development of the Space-Time View of Quantum Electrodynamics," Nobel Lecture (11 December 1965)

Monday, June 24, 2019

What's The Reason?

Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

-- Sir John Harington (or Harrington) (1561 - 1612), courtier, author, and scientist, credited with the invention of an early flush toilet, Epigrams, Book iv, Epistle 5

Friday, June 21, 2019

A Contradiction

To work for a living certainly cannot be the meaning of life, since it is indeed a contradiction that the continual production of the conditions is supposed to be the answer to the question of the meaning of that which is conditional upon their production.

-- Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855), Danish Christian philosopher and theologian, Either/Or, p. 31 (1943)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Someone Tells Me

When someone tells me "no" it doesn't mean I can't do it.  It simply means I can't do it with them.

-- Karen E. Quinones Miller (20 June 1958 -), African-American journalist, historian, and author

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Right-Handed On Both Sides

ambidextrous (adj.)

also ambidexterous, "able to use both hands equally," 1640s, with -ous + Medieval Latin ambidexter, literally "right-handed on both sides," from ambi- "both, on both sides" (see ambi-) + dexter "right-handed" (from PIE root *deks- "right; south").  An earlier English use of ambidexter (adj.) meant "double-dealer, one who takes both sides in a conflict" (late 14c.).

Its opposite, ambilevous "left-handed on both sides," hence "clumsy" (1640s) is rare.  Ambidexter as a noun is attested from 1530s (in the sense "one who takes bribes from both sides") and is the earliest form of the word in English; its sense of "one who uses both hands equally well" appears by 1590s.

-- Online Etymology Dictionary

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Anxieties And Burdens

Sometimes, having a name carries with it anxieties and burdens of responsibility.  Thus, people who have power and social status are often not free to do what they want.  Because everyone is watching them, they have to behave in a way that is expected of their reputation.  One error and they will lose their hard-earned reputation.  They are not exactly the happiest people.

Someone with neither social status nor a reputation to uphold may be a freer and happier person.  Why then work so hard to gain social recognition when it will only diminish your freedom and happiness?

-- The Liezi, a Daoist text attributed to Lie Yukou, a c. 5th century BCE philosopher, but Chinese and Western scholars believe it was compiled around the 4th century CE, Part Seven: Yang Zhu, Passage 72: A Name is Nothing and Titles are Empty

Monday, June 17, 2019

Most Important Audience

I think dad jokes begin to pop out of fathers when the most important audience in life becomes our children.

-- Scott Simon, NPR, 15 June 2019

Friday, June 14, 2019


Our own political life is predicated on openness.  We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism.  We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to enquire.  We know that the wages of secrecy are corruption.  We know that in secrecy error, undetected, will flourish and subvert.

-- Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904 - 1967), American physicist and the scientific director of the Manhattan Project, "Encouragement of Science", an address at Science Talent Institute (6 March 1950), Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 7, #1 (Jan 1951) p. 6-8

Thursday, June 13, 2019

100% Clear

I would not have thought that I needed to say this.

Let me make something 100% clear to the American people and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.  This is not a novel concept.  Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.  Our Founding Fathers sounded the alarm about "foreign Interference, Intrigue, and Influence."  They knew that when foreign governments seek to influence American politics, it is always to advance their own interests, not America's.  Anyone who solicits or accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.  Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that offer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

-- Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen L. Weintraub, 13 June 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Penny On The Dollar

The leaders of Pathway Church on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas, had no clue that the $22,000 they already had on hand for Easter would have such impact.

The nondenominational suburban congregation of about 3,800 had set out only to help people nearby pay off some medical debt, recalled Larry Wren, Pathway's executive pastor.  After all, the core membership at Pathway's three sites consists of middle-income families with school-age kids, not high-dollar philanthropists.

But then they learned that, like a modern-day loaves-and-fishes story, that smaller amount could wipe out $2.2 million in debt not only for the Wichita area but all available debt for every Kansan facing imminent insolvency because of medical expenses they couldn't afford to pay -- 1,600 people in all.

-- Roxie Hammill, Kaiser Health News, 31 May 2019

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Apt To Be Painful

The processes of teaching the child that everything cannot be as he wills it are apt to be painful both to him and to his teacher.

-- Anne Sullivan, The Story of My Life: with her Letters by Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, pg 313, letter of 28 March 1887

Monday, June 10, 2019

Memorial Rock

Colorado has a new Instagram-worthy landmark.  An 8.5-million-pound boulder that rolled off a cliff and demolished a section of mountain highway has been renamed "Memorial Rock," Governor Jared Polis said.

It would have cost the Colorado Department of Transportation $200,000 to blow up the boulder with dynamite and haul it away, but instead the department will rebuild Highway 145 to wind around the giant rock described as "the size of a house" between Cortez and Telluride in southwestern Colorado, Polis said.

"We expect that for generations to come, people will have the opportunity to observe this geological masterpiece that we're calling Memorial Rock," Polis said at a news conference earlier this week.

-- United Press International, 5 June 2019

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Thank You, Sir

Woo-hoo!  It went perfect, perfect jump.  I feel great.  I'd go up and do it all again.

-- 97-year-old D-Day veteran Tom Rice, after parachuting into Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and his first jump there, AP, 5 June 2019

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Tank Man

Twenty [now thirty] years ago, on June 5, 1989, following weeks of huge protests in Beijing and a crackdown that resulted in the deaths of hundreds, a lone man stepped in front of a column of tanks rumbling past Tiananmen Square.  The moment instantly became a symbol of the protests as well as a symbol against oppression worldwide -- an anonymous act of defiance seared into our collective consciousnesses.

-- Patrick Witty, "Behind the Scenes: Tank Man of Tiananmen," in The New York Times LENS Blog, 3 June 2009