Thursday, May 13, 2021

American Renewal

Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing "A Call for American Renewal," a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition.

We urge fellow Americans to join us.

We will not wait forever for the GOP to clean up its act.  If we cannot save the Republican Party from itself, we will help save America from extremist elements in the Republican Party.

America cannot have just one party committed to preservation of its democratic institutions.  There must be at least two, if not more.

We still hope for a healthy, thriving Republican Party, but we are no longer holding our breath.

-- Former Representative Charlie Dent (R-PA), G W Bush Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, former Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, and former Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R-NJ), "The GOP has lost its way.  Fellow Americans, join our new alliance", Washington Post, 13 May 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Remaining Silent

Remaining silent and ignoring the lie, emboldens the liar.

-- Former House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, quoted by Alex Woodward in "Liz Cheney denounces Trump on eve of GOP vote", The Independent, 11 May 2021

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Purpose Of Aphorisms

The purpose of aphorisms is to keep fools who have memorized them from having nothing to say.

-- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992), Russian-born American biochemist who was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, In Memory Yet Green (1979), p. 188

Monday, May 10, 2021

A Cult

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.  The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

-- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992), Russian-born American biochemist who was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, "A Cult of Ignorance", Newsweek (21 January 1980)

Friday, May 07, 2021


Men have been Laughed out of Faults which a Sermon could not reform.

-- Francis Hutcheson (8 August 1694 - 8 August 1746), Irish philosopher, The Dublin Weekly Journal, No. 12 (19 June 1725)

Thursday, May 06, 2021

History Is Watching

The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.  In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened -- we had witnessed it firsthand.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law.  Each of us swears an oath before God to uphold our Constitution.  The electoral college has spoken.  More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple Trump-appointed judges, have rejected the former president's arguments, and refused to overturn election results.  That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud.

History is watching.  Our children are watching.  We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process.  I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.

-- House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming, "The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us", Washington Post, 5 May 2021

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Plot Twist

Since turning 60 a couple of years ago I've had a retirement plan targeted at age 68, six years from now, retiring with 16 years pension credit at the University of Illinois, on top of 26 years of existing credit with Social Security.  The university has been hit hard by costs related to the pandemic, and they're aiming to cut long-term employees with a cash incentive for those already eligible to retire.  As it happens, I'm eligible to repurchase 4 years pension credit from past employment at the Beckman Institute, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, and 40 years ago when I worked on the PLATO computer system.  For me, the incentive is pretty much the same as the cost to repurchase that pension credit.  By retiring and taking my pension now, I'll be making more in 6 years than if I waited and retired in 6 years.

As a result of this arithmetic, I will be retiring from the university on July 1st of this year, at age 62.  I'll need to make some money to supplement my retirement, and to delay taking Social Security for a while.  Over the next 6 years, I plan to greatly expand my martial arts practice in Monticello.  I didn't expect an opportunity to reinvent myself at this point in my life, but I'm happy to give it a try.

Today is my birthday, and my last day, June 30th, is 8 weeks from today.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Prayer For Artists

Our idea, which art in the ether, that cannot be named:
Thy vision come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is an abstraction.
Give us this day our daily spark and forgive our criticisms,
as we forgive those who critique against us.
And lead us not into stagnation, but deliver us from ego,
for thine is the vision, the power, and the glory forever.  

-- Nina Paley (3 May 1968 -), American cartoonist, animator, and free culture activist, most famous for her film Sita Sings the Blues, "Nina Paley's Prayer for Artists (2018)"

Monday, May 03, 2021

2020 Census

2020 Census

Census Day was April 1, 2020


331,449,281 U.S. Resident Population

93.8 Population per square mile of land area

7.4 Percent increase of population from 2010 to 2020

50 Number of States

-- Top-line numbers from the 2020 decennial census

Friday, April 30, 2021


It's always worthwhile to make others aware of their worth.

-- Malcolm Stevenson Forbes (1919 - 1990), American businessman, and the publisher of Forbes magazine, as quoted by T. Duncan in Wealth Strategies: 9 1/2 steps to achieving physical, financial, and Spiritual abundance (2000) p. 196

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Madame Speaker, Madame Vice President

Madame Speaker.  Madame Vice President.  No president has ever said those words from this podium.  No president has ever said those words, and it's about time.

The First Lady, I am her husband.  The Second Gentleman, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress and the Cabinet -- and distinguished guests.

My fellow Americans, ....

-- President Joe Biden, in the opening remarks of his first Presidential address to Congress, 28 April 2021

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

RIP Michael Collins

The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance.  Tiny.  Very shiny.  Blue and white.  Bright.  Beautiful.  Serene and fragile.

-- Michael Collins (31 October 1930 - 28 April 2021), American astronaut who flew the Apollo 11 command module Columbia around the Moon in 1969 while his crewmates, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, made the first crewed landing on the surface, quoted by NPR, Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins Dies, 28 April 2021

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Mechanized Barbarians

It is impossible to understand the American public without taking into account the tremendous psychological effect of bringing up a generation of people in a daily environment of advertising.  It is impossible to escape the advertising man; his sales talk assaults us in the morning newspaper, in the street car, with billboards along the highways, and in his shameless use of the radio.  This means that from morning till night, in the midst of our work as in our recreation, we live constantly in an atmosphere of intellectual shoddiness.  Every popular prejudice and vulgar conceit is played upon and pandered to in the interests of salesmanship.  Everywhere material interests and herd opinion are strengthened to the loss of personal independence.  The tendency is to think and speak for effect rather than out of one's inner life.  There is a marked decline the ability to play with ideas, or to live the spiritual life for its own sake.  Hence a decline in civilization of interest, humor, and urbanity.  Advertising tends to make mechanized barbarians of us all.

-- Everett Dean Martin (1880 - 1941), American minister, writer, and advocate of adult education, The Conflict of the Individual and the Mass in the Modern World (1932), pp. 29-30

Monday, April 26, 2021

Equal Before The Law, But

We are all equal before the law, but not before those appointed to apply it.

-- Stanisław Jerzy Lec (1909 - 1966), Polish poet and aphorist

I try not to repeat myself at, so I often do a little checking before posting.  Since 2005, I've used quotations from Stanisław Lec only twice.  I noticed this while preparing Friday's Trvth.  The above Trvth from April 2008 seems particularly appropriate still in April 2021.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Joint Reality

All of our separate fictions add up to joint reality.

-- Stanisław Jerzy Lec (1909 - 1966), Polish poet and aphorist, Unkempt Thoughts (1957), as translated by Jacek Galazka (1962)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Extraordinary Possibilities

The countries that take decisive action now to create the industries of the future will be the ones that reap the economic benefits of the clean energy boom that's coming.

We have to move.  We have to move quickly to meet these challenges.  The steps our countries take between now and Glasgow will set the world up for success to protect livelihoods around the world and keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius.  We must get on the path now in order to do that. 

If we do, we'll breathe easier, literally and figuratively; we'll create good jobs here at home for millions of Americans; and lay a strong foundation for growth for the future.  And that can be your goal as well.  This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative, a moment of peril but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities. 

-- Remarks by President Biden at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate Opening Session, 22 April 2021

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Mutual Disposition

[I]f we do not learn to sacrifice small differences of opinion, we can never act together.  Every man cannot have his way in all things.  If his own opinion prevails at some times, he should acquiesce on seeing that of others preponderate at others.  Without this mutual disposition we are disjointed individuals, but not a society. 

-- Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), third president of the United States (1801-1809), letter to John Dickinson (23 July 1801), published in The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, Federal Edition, Paul Leicester Ford, ed., New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904, Vol. 9, pp. 280-282

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Noble Profession

Policing is a noble profession, and it is a profession.  You met several Minneapolis police officers during this trial.  You met them.  They took the stand, and they testified.  Make no mistake, this is not a prosecution of the police, it is a prosecution of the defendant, and there's nothing worse for good police than a bad police who doesn't follow the rules, who doesn't follow procedure, who doesn't follow training, who ignores the policies of the department, the motto of the department to protect with courage, to serve with compassion.

-- Prosecution attorney Steve Schleicher in his closing statement in Derek Chauvin's trial for the murder of George Floyd, 19 April 2021

Monday, April 19, 2021


We upload the commands we want to run, and then we die inside for hours waiting to learn what happened.  Then, when all the data comes back, we frantically get online and look at it to make sure that everything went the way we wanted it to go.

-- Ingenuity lead operations manager Tim Canham, discussing the Ingenuity helicopter, which made history early Monday when the small but intrepid drone became the first powered craft to fly on another world, Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021

Climate Of Opinion

Professor Whitehead has recently restored a seventeenth century phrase -- "climate of opinion."  The phrase is much needed.  Whether arguments command assent or not depends less upon the logic that conveys them than upon the climate of opinion in which they are sustained.

-- Carl Lotus Becker (1873 - 1945), American historian of early American intellectual history and on the Enlightenment, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-century Philosophers (1932)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

We Think We Know

It is what we think we know that keeps us from learning.

-- Chester Irving Barnard (1886 - 1961), American business executive and public administrator, as attributed in: Brand, Richard A. "Hypothesis-based research", Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 28.2 (1998): 71-73

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Longest War

I'm now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats.  I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.

After consulting closely with our allies and partners, with our military leaders and intelligence personnel, with our diplomats and our development experts, with the Congress and the Vice President, as well as with Mr. Ghani and many others around the world, I have concluded that it's time to end America's longest war. ...

We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago.  That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. 

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. ...  And it’s time to end the forever war. 

-- Remarks by President Biden on the Way Forward in Afghanistan, 14 April, 2021

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Not Governing

[I]f you aren't making news, you aren't governing.

-- Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz (1982 -), Firebrand (2020), stating a basic political premise of his which appears to be the opposite of true

Monday, April 12, 2021

Cho Dan Student

On Saturday afternoon I watched from the sidelines as my most advanced Taekwondo student successfully tested for Black Belt.  It was nerve wracking, but awesome.  This 13-year-old is the first student I've taken all the way from White Belt to Black Belt, a journey of about three years.

Friday, April 09, 2021

RIP Prince Philip

Constitutionally, I don't exist.

-- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, (10 June 1921 - 9 April 2021), husband from 20 November 1947 (73 years) of Queen Elizabeth II (coronation 2 June 1953).  He was the longest-serving, oldest-ever spouse of a reigning British monarch, and the oldest-ever male member of the British royal family, as quoted in "Royal wedding: Should the royals have real jobs?", BBC News (27 January 2011)

Thursday, April 08, 2021


Obviously the facts are never just coming at you but are incorporated by an imagination that is formed by your previous experience.  Memories of the past are not memories of facts but memories of your imaginings of the facts.

-- Philip Milton Roth (1933 - 2018), American novelist, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for his novel American Pastoral, The Facts: A Novelist's Autobiography (1988), Opening letter to Nathan Zuckerman

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Fathers Of Our Actions

This habit of forming opinions, and acting upon them without evidence, is one of the most immoral habits of the mind. ...  As our opinions are the fathers of our actions, to be indifferent about the evidence of our opinions is to be indifferent about the consequences of our actions.  But the consequences of our actions are the good and evil of our fellow-creatures.  The habit of the neglect of evidence, therefore, is the habit of disregarding the good and evil of our fellow-creatures.

-- James Mill (6 April 1773 - 23 June 1836), Scottish utilitarian philosopher.  He was the father of the political philosopher John Stuart Mill, The Westminster Review, vol. 6 (1826), p. 13

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Outlier For Death

No harder measure of the coronavirus pandemic's toll exists: death from any cause rose 23% nationwide in 2020.

That meant 522,368 excess deaths from March through the end of 2020 compared with a projection from the prior 5 years, Steven Woolf, MD, MPH, of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond, and colleagues reported in JAMA.

It's well above the unofficial tally of COVID-19 deaths, which reached about 339,000 deaths by the end of 2020.  COVID directly accounted for about 72% of the excess mortality, Woolf's group found.

The rest might have been "either immediate or delayed mortality from undocumented COVID-19 infection, or non–COVID-19 deaths secondary to the pandemic, such as from delayed care or behavioral health crises," they suggested.

-- Crystal Phend, "Just How Much Was 2020 an Outlier for Deaths?", MedPage Today, 2 April 2021

Monday, April 05, 2021

Fair Use

We reach the conclusion that in this case, where Google reimplemented a user interface, taking only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program, Google's copying of the Sun Java API was a fair use of that material as a matter of law.  The Federal Circuit's contrary judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings in conformity with this opinion.

It is so ordered.

-- Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the 6-2 majority of the Supreme Court of the United States in Google LLC, Petitioner, v. Oracle America, Inc, ruling that software APIs are not protected by copyright, and specifically that Google's Android OS does not violate Oracle's Java copyright, 5 April 2021

Friday, April 02, 2021


Stoning prophets and erecting churches to their memory afterwards has been the way of the world through the ages.  Today we worship Christ, but the Christ in the flesh we crucified.

-- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 - 1948), commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, as quoted by Philip Yancey in Soul Survivor (16 February 2012), p. 179

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Short Lent

Those have a short Lent, who owe money to be paid at Easter.

-- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, in The Way to Wealth: Advice, Hints, and Tips on Business, Money, and Finance (2011), p. 14

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Decreased Substantially

I look at it this way.  The first time we have an excuse.  There were about a hundred thousand deaths that came from that original surge.  All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.

-- Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator under the Trump administration, in an interview with CNN, 27 March 2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Crime Pays?

Obviously, crime pays, or there'd be no crime.

-- George Gordon Battle Liddy (30 November 1930 - 30 March 2021), chief operative for President Richard Nixon's White House Plumbers unit when they broke into the Watergate complex, which at the time was the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, in 1972, as quoted in "Does Crime Pay" in The Scandal Annual (1987) by the Paragon Project, p. 7

Monday, March 29, 2021

Every Blade Of Grass

I remember every blade of grass from my childhood.

-- Beverly Atlee Cleary (12 April 1916 - 25 March 2021), American writer of children's and young adult fiction, Columns magazine interview, September, 2008

Friday, March 26, 2021

Art Of The Possible

Die Politik ist die Lehre vom Möglichen (Politics is the art of the possible).

-- Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1815 - 1898), German aristocrat and statesman; he was Minister President of Prussia (1862-1890), and the first Chancellor of Germany (1871-1890), interview (11 August 1867) with Friedrich Meyer von Waldeck of the St. Petersburgische Zeitung

Thursday, March 25, 2021

That's Heroism

I'm proud of what I did, but at the same time, I'm surprised by it.  My guess is that you have surprised yourself, too -- that there have been times when you didn't put much forethought into the moment but, looking back, you realize how boldly you acted.  It may have been the action of a moment or it could have been the strength and persistence of weathering a particularly difficult season in your life.  As you reflect on it now, you are probably surprised at what you were capable of doing.  The fallout of that time for you might not be as readily obvious as mine was, but the idea is the same: You did what you had to do and you made your world -- our world -- a little bit better.  That's courage.  That's heroism.  That's honor.  Thank you for your service.

-- William Kyle Carpenter (17 October 1989 -), medically retired US Marine who received the United States' highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2010.  Carpenter is the youngest living Medal of Honor recipient.  You Are Worth It: Building a Life Worth Fighting For (2019) p. 304

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Substance, Quality, Or Relation

But suppose we take the noun "truth": here is a case where the disagreements between different theorists have largely turned on whether they interpreted this as a name of a substance, of a quality, or of a relation.

-- John Langshaw Austin (1911 - 1960), English philosopher of language and speech theorist, remembered primarily as the developer of the theory of speech acts, Philosophical Papers (1979) edited by James Opie Urmson and Geoffrey James Warnock, 3rd edition, p. 73

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

In America, We Can't

In so many ways, our lives may soon start to return to normal after a long, difficult year filled with so much loss.  But in a normal life, we should be able to buy groceries without fear.  We should be able to go to school, or go out with our friends, or worship together without mentally planning our escape if someone shows up with a gun.  We should be able to live our lives without wondering if the next trip outside our home could be our last.

We should.  But in America, we can't.

A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country. ...  [T]his is a normal we can no longer afford.

-- Former president Barack Obama, in a statement about yesterday's mass shooting in Boulder, CO, 23 March 2021

Monday, March 22, 2021

Greatest Barrier

The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious.

-- Peter Dimianovich Ouspensky (1878 - 1947), Russian mystic philosopher, The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution (1950)

Friday, March 19, 2021

Grim Reaping

  • Total US deaths due to covid since 18 March 2020 : 547,510
  • Number of minutes in a year : 525,600
  • Deaths per minute over that 525,600 minutes : 1.04
  • Average rate at which Americans died of covid : 57.5 sec

I have to say, I'm impressed by these numbers.  For me that death rate was unimaginable 13 months ago.  I knew that it got high during the peaks, but until the anniversary of the shutdown I didn't think to notice that total deaths exceeded the minutes in a year.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Future Self

Your future self is watching you right now through your memories.

-- Aubrey de Grey (1963 -), English author and biomedical gerontologist

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Emotional Stress

I got my first Pfizer shot last week.  It's amazing how much emotional stress and baggage we carry around from this pandemic.  That shot is not only a vaccine, it's a cathartic.

-- Long-time friend and former bowling partner Patrick O'Halloran, replying to @RageMichelle as TheRealPatrick @TheRealPOH on Twitter, 11 March 2021

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Functionally Illiterate

If you haven't read hundreds of books, you are functionally illiterate, and you will be incompetent, because your personal experiences alone aren't broad enough to sustain you. 

-- James Norman Mattis (1950 -), retired US Marine Corps general, and 26th US Secretary of Defense, Call Sign Chaos (2019)

Monday, March 15, 2021

Virtue Signalling

virtue signalling

noun: the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue.

"It's noticeable how often virtue signaling consists of saying you hate things"

-- Definition of Virtue Signalling from Oxford Languages, via Google Search

Friday, March 12, 2021

Accountability Culture

Cancel culture is not a threat to free speech -- it is a manifestation of it.  Cancel culture is an evolving form of democratic discourse where individuals use their free speech rights to form masses.  These masses exert pressure on people and institutions.  A better term for it would be "accountability culture."

Americans have long used their rights to free expression to hold public officials, institutions and corporations accountable.  Groups, including conservatives, have organized boycotts.  They have called for people to resign.  They have protested.

[T]hose who decry the free speech dangers of cancel culture really just don't like how other people are using their free speech rights.

-- Jared Schroeder and Jessica Maddox, 'Cancel Culture' is just free speech holding others accountable, The Hill, 11 March 2021

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Impediment To Action

In a sense, people are our proper occupation.  Our job is to do them good and put up with them.  But when they obstruct our proper tasks, they become irrelevant to us -- like sun, wind, and animals.  Our actions may be impeded by them, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions.  Because we can accommodate and adapt.  The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.  The impediment to action advances action.  What stands in the way becomes the way.

-- Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121 - 180), Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher, Meditations (c. 121–180 AD), Book V, 20  (Hays translation)

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Protect These Values

[A]s our state legislators seek to turn back the clock through legislation that will restrict access to voting for many Georgians, I am disheartened, saddened, and angry.  Many of the proposed changes are reactions to allegations of fraud for which no evidence was produced -- allegations that were, in fact, refuted through various audits, recounts, and other measures.  The proposed changes appear to be rooted in partisan interests, not in the interests of all Georgia voters.

American democracy means every eligible person has the right to vote in an election that is fair, open, and secure.  It should be flexible enough to meet the electorate's changing needs.  As Georgians, we must protect these values.  We must not lose the progress we have made.  We must not promote confidence among one segment of the electorate by restricting the participation of others.  Our goal always should be to increase, not decrease, voter participation.

Statement by former President Carter on Efforts to Restrict Voting Access, 9 March 2021

Monday, March 08, 2021

Consequences And Rules Of Action

The realization that life is absurd cannot be an end, but only a beginning.  This is a truth nearly all great minds have taken as their starting point.  It is not this discovery that is interesting, but the consequences and rules of action drawn from it.

-- Albert Camus (1913 - 1960), French Pied-Noir author, absurdist philosopher, and 1957 Nobel laureate in Literature, review of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, published in the newspaper Alger Républicain (20 October 1938), p. 5

Friday, March 05, 2021

Two Things

Two things have always been true about human beings.  One, the world is always getting better.  Two, the people living at that time think it's getting worse.

It's because you get older, your responsibilities are different.  Now I'm taking care of children instead of being a child.  It makes the world look scarier.  That happens to everyone.

-- Penn Fraser Jillette (5 March 1955 -), American magician, scientific skeptic, actor, musician, inventor, television presenter, and author, best known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller, "Honest Questions with Penn Jillette" (2 November 2007), CNN