Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leap Day

Intercalary: Inserted out of the common order to preserve the equation of time, as the twenty-ninth of February in a leap year is an intercalary day.

-- A Dictionary of the English Language, by Robert Gordon Latham, founded on that of Dr. Samuel Johnson, as edited by H. J. Todd, 1866

Friday, February 28, 2020

RIP Freeman Dyson

There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.

-- Freeman John Dyson (15 December 1923 - 28 February 2020), English-born American physicist, mathematician, and futurist, famous for his work in quantum mechanics, nuclear weapons design and policy, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence; winner of the Templeton Prize in the year 2000; Disturbing the Universe (1979)

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Regular Season Debut

The best possible thing that can happen in a hockey game is a team losing their goalie, their backup goalie, and necessitating the activation of an emergency backup goalie. Every team in the NHL is required to grant entrance to the arena to a designated person with typically amateur goalie experience who -- in the highly unlikely event that either team has no viable players to tend goal -- will be called upon in times of great duress to suit up and play the game of hockey. This past weekend, such a hero had their moment in the sun: David Ayres, a 42-year-old who drives Zamboni machines in Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto, was designated the goalie of the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leaves, making eight saves in the process and becoming the oldest person in the history of the NHL to win a regular season debut. Today, NHL general managers are gathering for their annual meetings, and the emergency backup system may be up for discussion. Unless their decision is "pre-emptively cutting a deal with a major studio for the inevitable film rights," any change would be a colossal error.

-- Walt Hickey, "NumLock News" 27 February 2020, citing Tom Gulitti,

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

To Dust We Shall Return

We begin the Lenten Season by receiving ashes: "You are dust, and to dust you shall return" (cf. Gen 3:19).  The dust sprinkled on our heads brings us back to earth; it reminds us that we are dust and to dust we shall return.  We are weak, frail and mortal.  Centuries and millennia pass and we come and go; before the immensity of galaxies and space, we are nothing.  We are dust in the universe.

-- Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, Basilica of Santa Sabina, Ash Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Too Afraid

You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world -- which is why it doesn't work.  I don't share this heresy.  I'm too afraid!

-- Eugène Ionesco (1909 - 1994), Romanian playwright and dramatist, in "Eugene Ionesco, The Art of Theater No. 6" interviewed by Shusha Guppy, in Paris Review (Fall 1984), No. 93

Monday, February 24, 2020


In God's body shop, each of us was customized.  But science came along to substitute statistical inference for free will.  We are now a tribe of likelihoods.

-- John Leonard (25 February 1939 - 5 November 2008), American literary, TV, film, and cultural critic, Private Lives in the Imperial City, "On Being Average" p. 49 (1979)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Best Efforts

You know I believe that our main trouble is too many people putting forth their best efforts.  I've been asking 12,000 people a year, is anyone here not putting forth their best effort, please stand.  No one stands.

Everyone's putting forth their best effort.  And that's the problem.  We are being ruined by poeple putting forth their best efforts.  We'd be far better off if most of those people would just not show up for work.  Come in late.  Just forget it.  ...  We are being ruined by the best efforts of people who are doing the wrong thing.

-- William Edwards Deming (1900 - 1993), American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant, known for his work in the field of quality management, as quoted by Brian Joiner

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Baby Girl

Tonight I am honored to welcome into the world Baby Girl Warren [given name TBD], the #2 child (second daughter) of my #3 child, Heather, and her husband, Beaux.  This gives me a total of 11 grandkids, 7 girls and 4 boys.  I hope to travel to meet the new arrival in a few weeks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Most Unmanageable

Of all animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.

-- Plato (c. 427 BC - c. 347 BC), immensely influential classical Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, in The Laws, Plato's last dialogue

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

For A Reason

He's [Pres. Trump] got a obviously a big fan in me.  If you're asking what my party affiliation is... I'm a Trumpocrat.

-- Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, speaking to reporters at Denver International Airport after being released from prison subsequent to the commutation of his sentence by President Trump, 18 February 2020

I really wish someone would have asked the people of Illinois whether we want Blagojevich to be set free.  I'm pretty sure we put him in prison for a reason.

Monday, February 17, 2020

My President Didn't Do That

The fact is, and the thing that is so appalling to me, is that the President, when this whole idea was suggested to him, didn't in righteous indignation rise up and say "get out of here.  You are in the office of the President of the United States.  How can you talk about blackmail and bribery and keeping witnesses silent?  This is the Presidency of the United States!", and throw them out of his office, and pick up the phone and call the Department of Justice and tell them "there is obstruction of justice going on, someone is trying to buy the silence of a witness."

But my President didn't do that.  He sat there, and he worked and worked to try to cover this thing up so it wouldn't come to light.

-- Lawrence Joseph Hogan (1928 - 2017), Republican former U.S. Congressman (MD-5), opening statement in the Debate on Articles of Impeachment, Committee on the Judiciary, 24 July 1974

Friday, February 14, 2020

Time Enough For Love

Work is not an end in itself; there must always be time enough for love.

-- Robert Anson Heinlein (1907 - 1988), popular, influential, and controversial author of science fiction, Time Enough for Love (1973)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

With Integrity

[T]o have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make it impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we're doing our work with integrity.

-- US Attorney General William Barr, in an interview with ABC News, after the DOJ over-ruled sentencing recommendations in the case of Trump friend Roger Stone in apparent response to a presidential tweet, 13 February 2020

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tenant Farmers

We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using Nature's inexhaustible sources of energy -- sun, wind and tide. ... I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy.  What a source of power!  I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

-- Thomas Alva Edison (11 February 1847 - 18 October 1931), American inventor and businessman, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone (1931); as quoted in Uncommon Friends : Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (1987) by James Newton, p. 31

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Shake Hands

Let's not shake hands in this special time.

-- Chinese leader Xi Jinping, as he toured Beijing on Monday after facing criticism for his relatively low profile during the Covid-19 outbreak, New York Times, 11 February 2020

Friday, February 07, 2020


[M]y promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience. ...

I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from office.  The results of this Senate court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people.  Voters will make the final decision, just as the president's lawyers have implored.  My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.  But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.

-- Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) explaining on the Senate floor his decision to vote to convict President Trump of abuse of power, 5 February 2020

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Ordered And Adjudged

The Senate, having tried Donald John Trump, President of the United States, upon two articles of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives, and two-thirds of the Senators present not having found him guilty of the charges contained therein, it is therefore ordered and adjudged that Donald John Trump be, and he is hereby, acquitted of the charges in said articles.

-- US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, delivering the verdict in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, 5 February 2020

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru

Turning a blind eye is an idiom describing the ignoring of undesirable information.

Although the Oxford English Dictionary records usage of the phrase as early as 1698, the phrase to turn a blind eye is often attributed to an incident in the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson.  Nelson was blinded in one eye early in his Royal Navy career.  During the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 the cautious Admiral Sir Hyde Parker, in overall command of the British forces, sent a signal to Nelson's forces ordering them to discontinue the action.  Naval orders were transmitted via a system of signal flags at that time.  When this order was brought to the more aggressive Nelson's attention, he lifted his telescope up to his blind eye, saying, "I have a right to be blind sometimes.  I really do not see the signal," and most of his forces continued to press home the attack.

-- Wikipedia article on "Turning a blind eye"

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Intimate Converse

To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations -- such is a pleasure beyond compare.

-- Yoshida Kenko (1283? – 1350?), Japanese author and Buddhist monk, The Tzuredzure Gusa (Essays In Idleness) of Yoshida no Kaneyoshi, as translated by George Sansom (1911)

Monday, February 03, 2020


Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin -- the desk's too big, the desk's too small, there's too much noise, there's too much quiet, it's too hot, it's too cold, too early, too late.  I had learned over the years to ignore them all and simply to start.

-- Robert Dennis Harris (7 March 1957 -), English novelist, The Ghost (2007)