Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.  Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions.  Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.

-- Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 - 1936), British writer, A Chesterton Calendar Compiled from the Writings of G.K.C. (1911)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Scramble For Money

Let's put a limit to the scramble for money. ...  Having got what you wanted, you ought to begin to bring that struggle to an end.

-- Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 - 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace, Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus, Satires, Book I, Satire i, N. Rudd, trans. (2005), v. 92-94.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

At A Standstill

Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every pessimist would keep the world at a standstill.  The consequence of pessimism in the life of a nation is the same as in the life of the individual.  Pessimism kills the instinct that urges men to struggle against poverty, ignorance, and crime, and dries up all the fountains of joy in the world.

-- Helen Adams Keller (1880 - 1968), American writer and social activist, Optimism (1903)

Monday, December 28, 2020

Moment Of Reflection

Most of the time man does not do what he wills, but what he has willed.  Through his decisions, he always gives himself only a certain direction, in which he then moves until the next moment of reflection.  We do not will continuously, we only will intermittently, piece by piece.  We thus save ourselves from willing: principle of the economy of the will.  But the higher man always experiences this as thoroughly immoral.

-- Otto Weininger (1880 - 1903), Austrian philosopher, Collected Aphorisms, as translated by Martin Dudaniec & Kevin Solway

Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Christmas

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
A new one just begun

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fears

-- John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Happy Christmas (War Is Over), Imagine (1971)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ideal Christmas

There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions.

-- Bill McKibben (1960 -), American environmentalist and writer on global warming, alternative energy, and more localized economies, in Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For a More Joyful Christmas

[Tonight there are 23 stockings hanging above the fireplace. My five daughters aren't here, but I've spoken with them all in the last 24 hours. Likely I'll speak to them all again in the next 24 hours. Likewise, my three brothers. This Christmas is sufficiently ideal. Merry Christmas.]

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Lights, Please

"Lights, please."

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

[Linus picks up his blanket and shuffles off-stage.]

-- Christopher Shea as Linus van Pelt, sharing the true meaning of Christmas in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965)

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

I Heard A Bird Sing

I heard a bird sing

  In the dark of December.

A magical thing

  And sweet to remember.

"We are nearer to Spring

  Than we were in September,"

I heard a bird sing

  In the dark of December.

-- Oliver Herford (1863 - 1935), American humorous poet and illustrator, "I Heard a Bird Sing" from Welcome Christmas! A Garland of Poems (Viking Press, 1955)

Monday, December 21, 2020

We Need Bridges

Christmas is a bridge.  We need bridges as the river of time flows past.  Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday.

-- Gladys Taber (1899 - 1980), American author, Still Cove Journal (1981)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Strict And Liberal

People understand instinctively that the best way for computer programs to communicate with each other is for each of the them to be strict in what they emit, and liberal in what they accept.  The odd thing is that people themselves are not willing to be strict in how they speak, and liberal in how they listen.  You'd think that would also be obvious. 

-- Larry Wall (1954 -), programmer, best known as the creator of the Perl programming language, "2nd State of the Onion", on Jon Postel's Robustness Principle applied to human communication

Thursday, December 17, 2020


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is aware of compromises of U.S. government agencies, critical infrastructure entities, and private sector organizations by an advanced persistent threat (APT) actor beginning in at least March 2020.  This APT actor has demonstrated patience, operational security, and complex tradecraft in these intrusions.  CISA expects that removing this threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging for organizations.

CISA has determined that this threat poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations.  CISA advises stakeholders to read this Alert and review the enclosed indicators.

-- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Alert (AA20-352A) Advanced Persistent Threat Compromise of Government Agencies, Critical Infrastructure, and Private Sector Organizations, 17 December 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Major Leaguers

Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. announced today that Major League Baseball is correcting a longtime oversight in the game's history by officially elevating the Negro Leagues to "Major League" status.  During this year's centennial celebration of the founding of the Negro Leagues, MLB is proud to highlight the contributions of the pioneers who played in these seven distinct leagues from 1920-1948.  With this action, MLB seeks to ensure that future generations will remember the approximately 3,400 players of the Negro Leagues during this time period as Major League-caliber ballplayers.  Accordingly, the statistics and records of these players will become a part of Major League Baseball's history.

All of us who love baseball have long known that the Negro Leagues produced many of our game's best players, innovations and triumphs against a backdrop of injustice.  We are now grateful to count the players of the Negro Leagues where they belong: as Major Leaguers within the official historical record.

-- Commissioner of Baseball Robert D. Manfred, Jr. in an official statement, "MLB to Elevate the Negro Leagues to Major League Status", 16 December 2020

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Force Your Way In

Do not merely practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; it deserves that, for only art and science can exalt man to divinity.

-- Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770, died 26 March 1827), German composer and pianist who lived predominantly in Vienna, Austria, Letter to Emilie, 17 July 1812, Quoted in Musical news, Vol. 3 (1892), p. 627

Monday, December 14, 2020

Operation Warp Speed

Congratulations to President Donald Trump who recognized at the outset that Operation Warp Speed was a necessary, though tragically not by itself sufficient, response to the pandemic.  Today, that effort paid off with the first inoculations of Americans with a new vaccine, developed in under a year.  Science and technology came together to make this happen, and I'm impressed.

Friday, December 11, 2020


I object, Your Honor!  This trial is a travesty!  It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham!

-- Woody Allen (1 December 1935 -), American film director, writer, and actor, as Fielding Mellish in Bananas (1971)

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Science And Magic

While science and technology play critical roles in sustaining modern civilization, they are not part of our culture in the sense that they are not commonly studied or well comprehended.  Neither the potential nor the limitations of science are understood so that what can be achieved and what is beyond reach are not comprehended.  The line between science and magic becomes blurred so that public judgements on technical issues can be erratic or badly flawed.  It frequently appears that some people will believe almost anything.  Thus judgements can be manipulated or warped by unscrupulous groups.  Distortions or outright falsehoods can come to be accepted as fact.

-- Henry Way Kendall (1926 - 1999), American particle physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1990 jointly with Jerome Isaac Friedman and Richard E. Taylor, A Distant Light : Scientists and Public Policy (2000) Introduction, p. 4

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Democracy Is Not Self-Repairing

Democracy is not self-repairing.  Over time, without citizens who are committed to protecting it, it will eventually die, smashed under the iron fist of a would-be strongman who attracted a big enough chunk of the electorate to go along with him.  Trump failed, but it was close.

-- Brian Klaas, associate professor of global politics at University College London, "America has an authoritarian voter problem", Washington Post, 9 December 2020

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

RIP Chuck Yeager

I have flown in just about everything, with all kinds of pilots in all parts of the world -- British, French, Pakistani, Iranian, Japanese, Chinese -- and there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between any of them except for one unchanging, certain fact: the best, most skillful pilot has the most experience.

-- Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager (13 February 1923 - 7 December 2020), United States Air Force officer, flying ace, and record-setting test pilot who in 1947 became the first pilot in history confirmed to have exceeded the speed of sound in level flight,

Monday, December 07, 2020

Ultimate Aim

The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.

-- Gichin Funakoshi, as quoted on the opening title card of David Liban's documentary "Looking for Mr. Miyagi"

Friday, December 04, 2020

I Shaved

I got my cancer diagnosis in October 2015.  While getting ready for December surgery I started growing a beard.  I figured I would shave it off when I was declared cancer-free, and I thought that would take about six months.  I've been getting my numbers checked every three months for five years now.  With a string of zeroes, and the zero that I got this week, we're switching to testing every four months.  Baby steps, but things are looking good.

Yesterday, I shaved the beard.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Men Always Grow Vicious

Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired: for in the course of things, men always grow vicious before they become unbelievers; but if you would once convince the town or country profligate, by topics drawn from the view of their own quiet reputation, health, and advantage, their infidelity would soon drop off: This I confess is no easy task, because it is almost in a literal sense, to fight with beasts.

-- Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), Anglo-Irish writer and satirist, Letter to a Young Clergyman (9 January 1720), on proving Christianity to unbelievers

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Four Years

It's been an amazing four years.  We're trying to do another four years.  Otherwise, I'll see you in four years.

-- President Donald Trump, speaking at the White House at a holiday reception for members of the Republican National Committee and others, 1 December 2020

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Abandoned In The Present

I construct my memories with my present.  I am lost, abandoned in the present.  I try in vain to rejoin the past: I cannot escape.

-- Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (1905 - 1980), French existentialist philosopher, dramatist and screenwriter, novelist, and critic, Nausea (1938)