Monday, December 30, 2019

A God Within

The Greeks understood the mysterious power of the hidden side of things.  They bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language -- the word "enthusiasm" -- en theos [Εν Θεος] -- a god within.  The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring.  Happy is he who bears a god within and obeys it.

-- Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895), French microbiologist, chemist, pioneer of the "Germ theory of disease", discoverer of molecular asymmetry and stereo-chemistry, and inventor of the process of Pasteurization, as quoted in The Ghost in the Machine (1967) by Arthur Koestler, p. 220

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Passionately Convinced

Let us face squarely the paradox that the world which goes to war is a world, usually, genuinely desiring peace.  War is the outcome, not mainly of evil intentions, but on the whole, of good intentions which miscarry or are frustrated.  It is made, not usually by evil men knowing themselves to be wrong, but is the outcome of policies pursued by good men usually passionately convinced that they are right.

-- Sir Norman Angell, born Ralph Norman Angell Lane, (26 December 1872 - 7 October 1967), British economist, lecturer, writer, Member of Parliament for the Labour Party, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933, "Peace and the Public Mind" Nobel lecture (12 June 1935)

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas

Hey -- Have a merry Christmas!

I just counted, and currently there are stockings for 23 people (including one for grandkid #11, expected early in 2020) hanging from my mantel.  Most of those people will be at my house tomorrow (Christmas day) for a meal, or some pie, or a short visit.  I count myself lucky.

I hope you are equally blessed with the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, friends, and family.  May 2020 treat us all well.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Every Time Around

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around and why his parents will always wave back.

-- William D. Tammeus, attributed in Reader's Digest Quotable Quotes (1997), p. 58

Friday, December 20, 2019

Global Citizenship

Part of the challenge we have as humans is that when things get complicated and confusing we tend to want to block it out and look for simple answers.

So we are, often times, getting a leadership that reflects our own insecurities and problems.

We are electing somebody whose basic message is that all your problems are a result of that group over there that's not like us.

We are electing people who say there is no such thing as climate change so that you don't even have to worry about it.

We elect people who say "I am the tough guy and if you are worried about crime or terrorists, I'm just going to round everybody up," which leads to extra-judicial killings or torture or violates human rights.

That's not just the leader's fault.  It's not just a challenge of leadership, it's a challenge of global citizenship.

-- Former President Barack Obama, speaking in Singapore, 16 December 2019

Thursday, December 19, 2019


I have no interest in a God who does not smite.

-- William Ashley "Billy" Sunday (1862 - 1935), American athlete who, after being a popular outfielder in baseball's National League during the 1880s, became the most celebrated and influential American evangelist during the first two decades of the 20th century, quoted in Gerald McLoughlin, "Billy Sunday Was His Real Name", University of Chicago Press, (1955), p. 179

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Ayes Have It


House Resolution 755      18-Dec-2019      8:32 PM
QUESTION:  On Agreeing to Article I of the Resolution
BILL TITLE: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors

Ayes 230, Noes 197, Present 1, Not voting, 3


House Resolution 755      18-Dec-2019      8:50 PM
QUESTION:  On Agreeing to Article II of the Resolution
BILL TITLE: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors

Ayes 229, Noes 198, Present 1, Not voting, 3

-- Vote results for the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, both of which passed, from the website of the US House of Representatives, 18 December 2019

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Frequency

The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.  The FISC expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the Court.  Without it, the FISC cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis.

THEREFORE, the Court ORDERS that the government shall, no later than January 10, 2020, inform the Court in a sworn written submission of what it has done, and plans to do, to ensure that the statement of facts in each FBI application accurately and completely reflects information possessed by the FBI that is material to any issue presented by the application.

-- Rosemary Mayers Collyer (1945 -), Presiding Judge of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in an order excoriating the FBI for abuses in applications for surveillance of Carter Page, 17 December 2019

Monday, December 16, 2019

To Spend Or Waste

To spend time is to pass it in a specified manner.  To waste time is to expend it thoughtlessly or carelessly.  We all have time to spend or waste, and it is our decision what to do with it.  But once passed, it is gone forever.

-- Lee Jun-fan (1940 - 1973), known professionally as Bruce Lee, Hong Kong-American actor, director, martial artist, martial arts instructor, and philosopher, Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living (2000) edited by John Little, p. 10

Friday, December 13, 2019

Advice To Young People

I have previously shared with you Balk's Law ("Everything you hate about The Internet is actually everything you hate about people") and Balk's Second Law ("The worst thing is knowing what everyone thinks about anything").  Here I will impart to you Balk's Third Law: "If you think The Internet is terrible now, just wait a while."  The moment you were just in was as good as it got. ...  [T]he Internet is going to keep getting worse and there will be no chance for escape.  It's a massive torrent of sewage blasted at you at all hours and you pay handsomely for the privilege of having a hand-held cannon you carry with you at all times to spray more shit-sludge at yourself whenever you're bored or anxious.  Some of you sleep with it right next to your head in case you wake in the middle of the night and need to deliver another turgid shot to your wide-open mouth.

-- Alex Balk, blog post at "The Awl", "My Advice To Young People", 10 February 2015

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Working Paper

Three years ago, 3.9 million Americans received a plain-looking envelope from the Internal Revenue Service. Inside was a letter stating that they had recently paid a fine for not carrying health insurance and suggesting possible ways to enroll in coverage.

New research concludes that the bureaucratic mailing saved lives.

Three Treasury Department economists have published a working paper finding that these notices increased health insurance sign-ups. Obtaining insurance, they say, reduced premature deaths by an amount that exceeded any of their expectations. Americans between 45 and 64 benefited the most: For every 1,648 who received a letter, one fewer death occurred than among those who hadn’t received a letter.

In all, the researchers estimated that the letters may have wound up saving 700 lives.

-- New York Times, "The I.R.S. Sent a Letter to 3.9 Million People. It Saved Some of Their Lives", 10 December 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

There Is A Tomorrow

We can't just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow.  That is all we are saying.

-- Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, as quoted in Time Magazine's 2019 Person of the Year cover story, 4 December 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Resolved, That Donald J. Trump, President of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Article I: Abuse of Power
Article II: Obstruction of Congress

In all of this, President Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

Wherefore, President Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.  President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

-- Text of proposed articles of impeachment, produced by the House Judiciary Committee, 10 December 2019

Monday, December 09, 2019

RIP Paul Volcker

We live in a world in which individuals and businessmen, as never before, have the capacity and the incentives to buy and sell, invest and travel, where they want and when they want -- and they want to do so unencumbered by national boundaries.  At the same time, modern democracies, at least as much as other forms of government, long for autonomy; they want to control their own destinies in ways responsive to the needs of an electorate often concerned less with national than with local or sectorial interests.  Yet, theory and experience indicate we can't have it both ways, full integration and full autonomy.

-- Paul Adolph Volcker, Jr. (5 September 1927 - 8 December 2019), American economist, Chairman of the Federal Reserve under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan from August 1979 to August 1987, "The Political Economy of the Dollar", the Fred Hirsch lecture at Warwick University, Coventry, England, 9 November 1978

Friday, December 06, 2019


I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more -- the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort -- to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires -- and expires, too soon -- too soon before life itself.

-- Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924), Polish writer, working in England, Youth, A Narrative (1902)

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Nothing Is Simpler

Nothing is simpler than to kill a man; the difficulties arise in attempting to avoid the consequences.

-- Rex Stout (1886 - 1975), American author of detective fiction most famous as the creator of the fictional detective Nero Wolfe, Too Many Cooks, chapter 3 (1938)

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Time To Leave The Roost

Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost.  While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it's time to assume the role of proud parents -- offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!

We are deeply humbled to have seen a small research project develop into a source of knowledge and empowerment for billions -- a bet we made as two Stanford students that led to a multitude of other technology bets.  We could not have imagined, back in 1998 when we moved our servers from a dorm room to a garage, the journey that would follow.

-- Larry Page and Sergey Brin in "A letter from Larry and Sergey", announcing their departure from active management of Google and its parent company Alphabet, 3 December 2019

Tuesday, December 03, 2019


It's not just about equality.  It's not just about allowing women to be equal as men, to develop their masculine side and act with equality and be treated the same way as men do.  It's about treating femininity equal, with the same amount of regard as masculinity is held.

-- Sifu Steven Macramalla, author, professor of cognitive psychology at San Jose State University, and Chien-Lung martial arts instructor, speaking on episode 454 of Whistlekick Martial Arts Podcast, December 2019

Monday, December 02, 2019

Various Ways

There are various ways to call a man a liar.  One way is just to scream it at him, which doesn't prove anything.  Another is to establish facts by long and patient investigation.  Still another way is not to call him a liar at all -- let him do it himself.

-- Rex Stout (1886 - 1975), American author of detective fiction most famous as the creator of the fictional detective Nero Wolfe, on his work on Our Secret Weapon, as quoted by Trudi McCullough in The Milwaukee Journal (30 September 1942)