Friday, January 31, 2020


Tonight we are leaving the European Union. For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come and there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss. And then of course there is a third group -- perhaps the biggest -- who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end.

... We will spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK and if we can get this right I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad and in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change, in our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades. The power of independent thought and action.

... Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.

-- Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a statement issued as the United Kingdom formally exited the European Union today, 31 January 2020

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Born To Reign

Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interest, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

-- Thomas Paine (29 January 1737 - 8 June 1809), British-American political writer, theorist, and activist who had a great influence on the thoughts and ideas which led to the American Revolution and the United States Declaration of Independence, Common Sense (10 January 1776)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Go Bulldogs

Tonight it's easy to know what to write about.  The Bement 5th-grade boys basketball team, including my grandson Joseph, won their regional championship a few hours ago.

Next week they'll play in sectionals.  Go Bulldogs!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


I feel like the main thing that has happened in the world in the last couple of years is the rise of shamelessness.  Social opprobrium is much more powerful than laws most of the time.  [The reason] we don't do things is not because there's a law against it, but because we'd be embarrassed or ashamed. ...  If [shame] stops being a tool, if people refuse to feel shame, either because they know their team will support them, or because they are narcissists, it really undermines the whole fabric of society in ways I didn't realize until we got to this place.

-- David Plotz, host of Slate's Political Gabfest, on the show's 19 April 2018 episode, as quoted by Dan Rodricks in "Rodricks: Expressing shame in an era of shamelessness", The Baltimore Sun, 24 April 2018

Monday, January 27, 2020

RIP Kobe Bryant

My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It's hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players.

He gave his knowledge, time, and talent to tutor so many at the youth level, collegiate level, & NBA & WNBA players. Words can't express the impact that he had on the game of basketball. I know basketball fans all over the world will miss him, especially the City of Los Angeles.

While I shared a personal relationship with Kobe and his family, it is not lost on me the other families who woke up today missing their family members. Let us all continue to pray for the lives that were lost and their families in mourning.

-- Earvin Magic Johnson, in a series of tweets after the death of Kobe Bryant (23 August 1978 - 26 January 2020), 26 January 2020

Friday, January 24, 2020

Right Matters

If the truth doesn't matter, we're lost.  Framers couldn't protect us from ourselves, if right and truth don't matter.  And you know that what he did was not right. ...  But here, right is supposed to matter.  It's what's made us the greatest nation on earth.  No constitution can protect us, [if] right doesn't matter any more.  And you know you can't trust this President to do what's right for this country.  You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump.  He'll do it now.  He's done it before.  He'll do it for the next several months.  He'll do it in the election if he's allowed to.  This is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed.  Because right matters.  Because right matters and the truth matters.  Otherwise, we are lost.

-- Representative Adam B. Schiff, the lead impeachment manager, in an impassioned closing speech urging senators to convict and remove President Trump, 23 January 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020

RIP Jim Lehrer

If we don't have an informed electorate we don't have a democracy.  So I don't care how people get the information, as long as they get it.  I'm just doing it my particular way and I feel lucky I can do it the way I want to do it.

-- James Charles Lehrer (19 May 1934 - 23 January 2020), American journalist and novelist, executive editor and news anchor for the PBS NewsHour on PBS, and a debate moderator during U.S. presidential election campaigns, as quoted in "Jim Lehrer on Billy Bob, Reports of Rain and Stenography As Journalism" by Liz Cox Barrett, Columbia Journalism Review (2 June 2006)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Not Incentive-Compatible

Kant is wrong to assume that everything is best fitted to its purpose.  In particular, nothing says that homo sapiens is well equipped for living in large societies.  If he were, there would presumably be less of homo economicus in his nature and more of some antlike variety of homo behavioralis.  As a consequence, Nature has to live with societies that have second-best welfare properties.  She cannot achieve the first-best outcomes to which those like Kant aspire because the latter are not incentive-compatible.  That is to say, they are achievable only if the human beings who live in the society act in a manner that is incompatible with their nature.

-- Kenneth George "Ken" Binmore, CBE (1940 -), British mathematician, economist, and game theorist, Game Theory and the Social Contract (1994), p. 152

Monday, January 20, 2020

No Conflict

There is no conflict in the absolute universe, but there is conflict in the relative world.

-- Koichi Tohei (20 January 1920 - 19 May 2011), 10th Dan aikidoka and founder of the Ki Society and its style of aikido, officially Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (literally "aikido with mind and body unified"), but commonly known as "Ki-Aikido", Ki Sayings (2003), 10 : The principle of non-dissension

Friday, January 17, 2020

Air Supply

Following the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas leak, the Los Angeles Unified School District installed air filters in every classroom and common area in all schools within five miles of the facility. Air testing found that the schools never actually endured higher levels of pollution, but a subsequent study about the impact of the air filters was shocking compared to schools outside the immediate area of impact: math scores went up by 0.2 standard deviations and English scores increased by 0.18 standard deviations, an increase that held even after accounting for student demographics and controlling for pollution levels at home. That’s an enormous pop linked to a small HVAC fix that costs just a few hundred dollars: for perspective, cutting class size by one third has been linked to a 0.22 standard deviation improvement.

-- NumLock News, 9 January 2020, reporting on a story by Matthew Yglesias, Vox, 8 January 2020

Thursday, January 16, 2020

All Things

I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and Laws, So help me God.

-- Oath taken by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and then administered by him to all members of the Senate, to initiate proceedings in the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump, 16 January 2020

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

To Share

All of us have to share in each other's suffering, or we risk losing our humanity.

-- Philip Caputo (1941 -), American author and journalist, while telling a story on The Moth podcast, 14 January 2020

Monday, January 13, 2020


From Permanent Waves, seventh studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush, released January 1980 on Anthem Records
Music: Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
Lyrics: Neil Peart

There are those who think that life
Has nothing left to chance
With a host of holy horrors
To direct our aimless dance

A planet of playthings
We dance on the strings
Of powers we cannot perceive
"The stars aren't aligned --
Or the gods are malign"
Blame is better to give than receive

You can choose a ready guide
In some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide
You still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears
And kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that's clear
I will choose free will.

There are those who think that
They were dealt a losing hand
The cards were stacked against them
They weren't born in Lotus-Land.

All pre-ordained
A prisoner in chains
A victim of venomous fate
Kicked in the face
You can't pray for a place
In Heaven's unearthly estate

Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
Genetic blends
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That's far too fleet ....

Friday, January 10, 2020

RIP Neil Peart

It is with broken hearts and the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and band mate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma).  We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family's need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time.  Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their cohice and make a donation in Neil's name.

Rest in peace brother.

-- Official statement on the website of the band Rush announcing the death of drummer and lyricist Neil Peart, via Twitter, 10 January 2020

As a young drummer and fan of Rush, Neil Peart was one of my lifelong idols of rock drumming.  His fantastical and philosophical lyrics really touched me.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Potential For Mis-Identification




SFC-UNL, 08 JAN 00:10 2020 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 08 JAN 00:07 2020

-- Flight restriction issued by the FAA, warning flights away from Iran and the Persian Gulf, over concern that military may inadvertently fire on a commercial aircraft, as appears to have happened to a Ukrainian airliner, 8 January 2020

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Rules For Success

1 Maintain absolute integrity at all times.

2 Always do your best; never do anything half-heartedly.  (Either get into it, or get out of it.)

3 Never do anything to harm others.

4 Never do anything for which you'll be ashamed later.  (This is an important one!)

5 Always strive for excellence -- there's no substitute for it.

6 Practice moderation in all things -- including moderation.  (There's nothing wrong with a little excess once in a while.)

7 Don't take yourself too seriously.

-- Arnold Orville Beckman (1900 - 2004), American chemist, inventor, investor, and philanthropist, "Seven Rules for Success"

Monday, January 06, 2020

Children Are The Future

I believe the children are the future ...  Unless we stop them now!

-- Homer Simpson, in "The Wandering Juvie", Season 15, Episode 16 of The Simpsons (28 March 2004), written by John Frink & Don Payne

Friday, January 03, 2020

Without Respite

Progress leads to confusion leads to progress and on and on without respite.  Every one of the many major advances ... created sooner or later, more often sooner, new problems.  These confusions, never twice the same, are not to be deplored.  Rather, those who participate experience them as a privilege.

-- Abraham Pais (1918 - 2000), Dutch-born American physicist and science historian, assistant to Niels Bohr in Denmark and later a colleague of Albert Einstein at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, Inward Bound : Of Matter and Forces in the Physical World (1988), p. 4

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Not Going To Find

I've often said that I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame, so that they could see that it's not where you're going to find your sense of completion.

-- James Eugene Redmond "Jim" Carrey (17 January 1962), Canadian film actor and comedian, "The Meaning - Jim Carrey" on YouTube, 28 September 2014

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Reminders Of My Past

I've used a number of apps on PDAs from Palm and eventually smartphones from Palm and various companies.  I've always copied my calendar data from device to device.

Long ago, one of those calendar apps provided event templates.  They were short snippets of frequent but irregular reminders, such as stopping by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription.

As it turns out, that app stored its templates by assigning the event a date of 1 January 2020.  Today, I've been reminded (and reminded) of a number of events that used to be routine.

These blasts from the past included running to the bank, swimming laps at the YMCA, and driving my daughter from Parkland College to her job at the Mall.  And having lunch with my Dad ... who passed away in 2013.  It was a curious and emotional way to enter 2020, with many reminders of my past.