Wednesday, September 30, 2020

RIP Helen Reddy

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'Cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

-- Helen Maxine Reddy (25 October 1941 - 29 September 2020), Australian-American singer, songwriter, and actress.  I Am Woman (1971)

[I confess, Helen Reddy was one of the first live concerts I saw at the UI Assembly Hall, apparently 8 February 1975]

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Unanswerable Arguments

I never knew any debatable point not maintained on both sides by unanswerable arguments.

-- Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 - 1838), English poet and novelist, better known by her initials L. E. L., Romance and Reality (1831), Vol. II, Chapter 21

Monday, September 28, 2020

Nothing. Zero.

Hannity: Now everybody keeps saying down at Occupy Wall Street, the 1% -- which I'm sure you're a part of -- doesn't pay any taxes.  Do you not pay any taxes?  I didn't know that.

Trump: No, I pay tax.  I pay a lot of tax.  I just signed a big fat check recently for a lot of tax.  I paid literally, I paid a lot of tax and you know, look, I don't mind.  I'm proud to pay it up.  If I owe it, I pay it.

The amazing thing is that half of the country is paying nothing.  Zero.  And even if you don't make a lot, you should have to pay something.  Just something to be a part of the game.  Half of the country's paying nothing.

-- Donald Trump, in a 2011 radio interview with conservative host Sean Hannity, as quoted by CNN.  It was recently revealed that Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 out of 15 years beginning in 2000

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Educator Inside You

The most worthwhile form of education is the kind that puts the educator inside you, as it were, so that the appetite for learning persists long after the external pressure for grades and degrees has vanished. Otherwise you are not educated; you are merely trained.

-- Sydney J. Harris (1917 - 1986), syndicated essayist and drama critic, Pieces of Eight (1982)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bipartisan In Washington

If there is one thing that is bipartisan in Washington, it is brazen hypocrisy.

-- Thomas Sowell (1930 -), American economist and political commentator with a libertarian conservative perspective.  He taught economics at Cornell University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and since 1980 at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he is currently Senior Fellow, "Supreme Hypocrisy", 29 March 2016

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Ce n'est pas un grand malheur d'obliger des ingrats, mais c'en est un insupportable d'être obligé à un malhonnête homme.

It is not a great misfortune to be of service to ingrates, but it is an intolerable one to be obliged to a dishonest man.

-- François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (1613 - 1680), French author of maxims and memoirs, Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims (1665–1678), Maxim 317

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Lead Others

Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

-- Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (15 March 1933 - 18 September 2020), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States since 1993. She was the second female justice (after Sandra Day O'Connor) and one of three female justices serving on the Supreme Court (along with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). Statement of advice on being presented the Radcliffe Medal, as quoted in "Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg" by Colleen Walsh, in The Harvard Gazette (29 May 2015)

Monday, September 21, 2020

Upside Down

Before the time trial, I thought I was going to finish second and I was happy with that result and the best young rider jersey.  The night before, in the parking lot, I’d watched the mechanics prepare a special white bike for me to arrive on the Champs-Élysées.  But then the time trial turned everything in my life upside down, and everything is still upside down inside me.

I think the secret of my success is that I started without believing for a single moment that I could win.  I was free spirit, I didn’t even have a power meter.

-- Tadej Pogačar (21 September 1998 -), winner of the 2020 Tour de France in a surprise, penultimate stage upset, overcoming a 57-second deficit to win by 59 seconds.  In addition to winning the overall Yellow jersey in his debut Tour, he also won the Polka Dot jersey for King of the Mountains, and the White jersey for Best Young Rider as the youngest victor since 1904, in an interview with L'Equipe, via, 20 September 2020

Friday, September 18, 2020


Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.  We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague.  Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her -- a tireless and resolute champion of justice.

-- Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr, in a statement announcing the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 18 September 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Not Real Magic

"I'm writing a book on magic," I explain, and I'm asked, "real magic?"  By real magic people mean miracles, thaumaturgical acts, and supernatural powers.  "No," I answer: "Conjuring tricks, not real magic."

Real magic, in other words, refers to magic that is not real, while the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic. 

-- Lee Siegel, conjurer and author of Net of Magic: Wonders and Deceptions in India, quoted in Noesis #206, September 2020

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Human-To-Human Relations

In my view, anything that makes the Middle East more like the European Union and less like the Syrian civil war is a good thing. ...

I can't predict how it will all play out, but when the most technologically advanced and globalized Arab state, the U.A.E., decides to collaborate with the most technologically advanced and globalized non-Arab state in the region, Israel, I suspect new energies will get unlocked and new partnerships forged that should be good for both Arab-Israeli and Jewish-Muslim human-to-human relations.

-- Thomas L. Friedman, The Love Triangle That Spawned Trump's Mideast Peace Deal, New York Times, 15 September 2020

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Evidence And Science

Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history.  This year we are compelled to do so.  We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people -- because he rejects evidence and science.

-- Scientific American Editorial Board, in the October 2020 Issue

Monday, September 14, 2020


Energy demand from air conditioning worldwide is projected to triple to 6,200 terawatt-hours by 2050, which is the equivalent of a quarter of the total annual electricity consumption today. This is one reason many are trying to make more efficient air conditioning tech, as the current units have not seen the massive leaps in efficiency seen in other electrical technology like solar panels, batteries, and electric vehicles, and with billions of new air conditioners awaiting purchase in the decades to come, the sooner the better. In Los Angeles alone, rising temperatures could increase peak summertime electricity demand by 51 percent by 2060 under the worst case scenario. India is projected to install 1.1 billion AC units by 2050, which would make air conditioning account for 45 percent of peak electricity demand in the nation compared to 10 percent today.

-- Walt Hickey in NumLock News, citing James Temple, MIT Technology Review, 2 September 2020

Friday, September 11, 2020

9/11 Generation

Never before in our history has America asked so much over such a sustained period of an all-volunteer force.  So I can say without fear of contradiction or being accused of exaggeration, the 9/11 generation ranks among the greatest our nation has ever produced, and it was born -- it was born -- it was born right here on 9/11.

-- George W. Bush (1946 -), 43rd President of the United States, Obama: America does not give in to fear, (11 September 2011)

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Settled In

Judgments on the president's pandemic leadership have settled in.  It was inadequate and did harm.  He experienced Covid-19 not as a once-in-a-lifetime medical threat but merely a threat to his re-election argument, a gangbusters economy.  He denied the scope and scale of the crisis, sent economic adviser Larry Kudlow out to say we have it "contained" and don't forget to buy the dip.  Mr. Trump essentially admitted he didn't want more testing because it would result in more positives.

And the virus rages on, having hit blue states first and now tearing through red states.

-- Margaret Ellen "Peggy" Noonan (1950 -), columnist for The Wall Street Journal, former speechwriter for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, "The Week It Went South for Trump", The Wall Street Journal (25 June 2020)

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

The Enemy Of Free Speech

What happens when the Second Amendment meets the First Amendment?  

The First Amendment loses. 

Here we have the full flowering of the First Amendment -- free speech about matters of public urgency -- marching headlong the unbridled expansion of the Second Amendment -- citizens openly brandishing loaded rifles, often semiautomatic ones, in public places. 

These two cherished American principles do not meet on equal footing, because a gun is the opposite of speech.  A loaded weapon discourages speech, intimidates, and demands compliance.  Even someone who intends no harm with a gun -- and I believe that these counterprotesters intend no harm -- is quashing the free speech of those around them, because it is impossible to speak openly when someone who hates your opinion is holding a loaded gun near you and telling you to shut up and leave. 

It's right-wing cancel culture. 

-- David Plotz (1970 -), American journalist, Guns are the enemy of free speech, Insider Today, 28 August 2020

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Spirit Of Liberty

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.  While it lies there, it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.  And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women?  It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes.  That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.  A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few -- as we have learned to our sorrow.

The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded.

-- Learned Hand (1872 - 1961), American judge and judicial philosopher, in an address to a crowd of 1.5 million at a ceremony where 150,000 people were becoming American citizens, in Central Park in New York City, "I Am An American Day" 21 May 1944

[Your humble editor recommends you read the whole thing here.  I have quoted just under half.]

Monday, September 07, 2020

Labor Day

On this day -- this American holiday -- we are celebrating the rights of free laboring men and women.  The preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them -- but to the whole future of Christian civilization.

-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945), American statesman and political leader who served as the President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, speech on Labor Day, 1 September 1941

Friday, September 04, 2020

He Serves Best

The President of the United States of necessity owes his election to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party, the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential importance the principles of their party organization; but he should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves the country best.

-- Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822 - 1893), 19th President of the United States (1877-1881).  As president, he oversaw the end of Reconstruction, began the efforts that led to civil service reform, and attempted to reconcile the divisions left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction.  Inaugural Address (5 March 1877)

Thursday, September 03, 2020


There are conditions of blindness so voluntary that they become complicity.

-- Paul Charles Joseph Bourget (1852 - 1935), French novelist and critic, Cosmopolis, Ch. 5 "Countess Steno" (1892)

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Poor Choices

Over these past few days, the irresponsible actions of a small number of students have created the very real possibility of ending an in-person semester for all of us.  Their poor choices have led to a concerning and rapid increase in the number of new undergraduate COVID-19 positive cases. ...

We have created the most extensive testing process of any university in the country.  We have extensively modeled to make the best science-driven decisions.  We have invented a new COVID-19 test.  We've created a new app to ensure building access and academic standing are linked to testing compliance.  Seven teams have worked since the spring to do everything we could possibly think of to make your Illinois experience as normal as possible.

We've given ourselves a real chance to come together and to stay together.  But the decision to do so is in your hands.  We stay together.  Or we go home.

-- Excerpts from a message to undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2 September 2020

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Just Desserts

Between "just desserts" and "tragic irony" we are given quite a large scope for our particular talent.  Generally speaking, things have gone about as far as they can possibly go when things have gotten about as bad as they can reasonably get.

-- Sir Tom Stoppard OM CBE FRSL (1937 -), Czech-born British playwright and screenwriter, knighted in 1997, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)