Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year? Yes please!

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in.  A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.

-- Bill Vaughan (8 October 1915 - 25 February 1977), American columnist and author

[I posted this 13 years ago, but I like it, and it definitely applies this year.]

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Not As A Couch

We must use time as a tool, not as a couch.

 -- John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 - 1963), 35th President of the United States (1961–1963), "Address in New York City to the National Association of Manufacturers (496)," 5 December 1961, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1961

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Nature Is The Sovereign

As we approach the end of 2021, everyone is drawing conclusions about the past year and guessing what 2022 will bring.  From my perspective, 2021 has been a good year, a year of learning, and learning is definitely good.  It may not have been pleasant, but that does not mean I do not appreciate what we, as humanity, have been receiving.  The main lesson we learned this year has been that nature is the sovereign, and we are its subjects.  This is a priceless lesson because if we remember this, we will avoid future mistakes that could cost us countless lives and horrible disasters.

-- Michael Laitman, Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute, "A (very) Short Summary of 2021", The Times of Israel blogs

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Special Experience

[T]here will always be people like me, who believe that to ripple the pages of a printed book is a special experience, one that through the centuries has taken millions from the darkness into the light.

-- Quintin Jardine's blog, "The Kindle threat" (29 September 2010)

Monday, December 27, 2021

RIP Desmond Tutu

Without us, God has no eyes, without us, God has no ears; without us, God has no arms or hands.  God relies on us.  Won't you join other people of faith in becoming God's partners in the world?

-- Desmond Mpilo Tutu (7 October 1931 - 26 December 2021), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.  God Is Not a Christian: And Other Provocations (2011), Foreword

Friday, December 24, 2021

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

-- Final line from "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" as published anonymously in the Troy [NY] Sentinel (23 December 1823)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Is The Time

Christmas is the time for looking ahead courageously through the gates of the swiftly approaching new year ... of resolving that the coming months will reflect a kinder, more forgiving and less heedless person than mirrored in the past.

-- Ellen V. Morgan in "Christmas is the Time"

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

What You Think

It is a very great thing to be able to think as you like; but, after all, an important question remains: what you think.

-- Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888), English poet, essayist, and cultural critic, "Democracy" (1861)

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Moral Progress

My own experience and development deepen every day my conviction that our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual joy.

-- Mary Ann Evans (1819 - 1880), English novelist and poet, more well-known by her pen name George Eliot, Letter to Charles Bray (15 November 1857)

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Winter Of Our Discontent

But unlike last winter, we now have the power to protect ourselves.

Our vaccines work against Omicron, especially for people who get booster shots when they are eligible.  If you are vaccinated, you could test positive.  But if you do get COVID, your case will likely be asymptomatic or mild.

We are intent on not letting Omicron disrupt work and school for the vaccinated.  You've done the right thing, and we will get through this.

For the unvaccinated, you're looking at a winter of severe illness and death for yourselves, your families, and the hospitals you may soon overwhelm.

So, our message to every American is clear: There is action you can take to protect yourself and your family.  Wear a mask in public indoor settings.  Get vaccinated, get your kids vaccinated, and get a booster shot when you're eligible.

-- Jeffrey Zients speaking at a press briefing by the White House COVID-⁠19 Response Team and Public Health Officials, 17 December 2021

Friday, December 17, 2021

The More We Know

Fortunately science, like that nature to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor by space.  It belongs to the world, and is of no country and of no age.  The more we know, the more we feel our ignorance; the more we feel how much remains unknown; and in philosophy, the sentiment of the Macedonian hero can never apply, -- there are always new worlds to conquer.

-- Sir Humphry Davy (17 December 1778 - 29 May 1829), Cornish chemist who discovered several chemical elements and studied the human body's response to electricity, discourse Delivered at the Royal Society (30 November 1825), published in The Edinburgh Review Or Critical Journal (October 1827)

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Balance Day

Today is my Marriage/Divorce Balance Day.  6,087 days ago (18 April 2005), I got divorced.  6,087 days before that (19 August 1988), I got married.  About 16 years, 8 months of each.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

To Understand

To understand is difficult; to act is easy.

-- Sun Yat-sen (1866 - 1925), Chinese revolutionary leader and statesman, considered by many to be the "Father of Modern China", as quoted in Great Britain and the East, Vol. 61, Issues 1727-1742 (1944), p. 19

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Not Enough

DJ: He's got to condemn this shit ASAP.  The Capitol police tweet is not enough. 

MM: I'm pushing it hard.  I agree

DJ: We need an Oval Office address.  He has to lead now.  It has gone too far and gotten out of hand.

-- Text messages between Donald Trump, Jr and then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged on the afternoon of 6 January 2021 while the Capitol insurrection was on-going

Monday, December 13, 2021

Don't Watch

Don't watch the clock; do what it does.  Keep going.

-- Samuel Levenson (1911 - 1980), American humorist, writer, teacher, television host, and journalist, You Don't Have to Be in Who's Who to Know What's What, The Choice Wit and Wisdom of Sam Levenson (2016)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Extinction Of Values

Hatred is a feeling which leads to the extinction of values.

-- José Ortega y Gasset (1883 - 1955), Spanish philosopher, Meditations on Quixote (1914)

Thursday, December 09, 2021


If you dislike change, you're going to dislike irrelevance even more.

-- Eric Ken Shinseki (1942 -), retired US Army general who served as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Chief of Staff of the Army, as quoted in Mackubin Thomas Owens, "Marines Turned Soldiers", National Review Online, 10 December 2001

Wednesday, December 08, 2021


Yesterday, December 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. ...

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.

-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945), American statesman and political leader who served as President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Address to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor (8 December 1941)

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

RIP Bob Dole

There has been a lot of talk about what it will take to heal our country.  We have heard many of our leaders profess "bipartisanship".   But we must remember that bipartisanship is the minimum we should expect from ourselves.

America has never achieved greatness when Republicans and Democrats simply manage to work together or tolerate each other.  We have overcome our biggest challenges only when we focused on our shared values and experiences.  These common ties form much stronger bonds than political parties.

When we prioritize principles over party and humanity over personal legacy, we accomplish far more as a nation.  By leading with a shared faith in each other, we become America at its best: a beacon of hope, a source of comfort in crisis, a shield against those who threaten freedom.

Our nation's recent political challenges remind us that our standing as the leader of the free world is not simply destiny.  It is a deliberate choice that every generation must make and work toward.  We cannot do it divided.

Our nation has certainly faced periods of division.  But at the end of the day, we have always found ways to come together.

We can find that unity again.

-- Robert Joseph Dole (22 July 1923 - 5 December 2021), American politician who represented Kansas in the US Senate from 1969 to 1996, and was the Republican presidential nominee in the 1996 election, in a column drafted early in 2021 to be published around the time of his death, Washington Post, 6 December 2021

Monday, December 06, 2021

Own Up

All you've got to do is own up to your ignorance honestly, and you'll find people who are eager to fill your head with information.

-- Walter Elias "Walt" Disney (5 December 1901 - 15 December 1966), American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, and animator, as quoted by Mike Strickland, Director of Photographers at Walt Disney, Co. in Power Marketing for Wedding and Portrait Photographers (2004) by Mitche Graf, p. 19

Friday, December 03, 2021

You'll Die A Lot

If you treat every situation as a life and death matter, you'll die a lot of times.

-- Dean Smith (1931 - 2015), American basketball coach

Thursday, December 02, 2021

An Infallible Medicine

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.

-- Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745), Anglo-Irish writer and satirist, The Examiner No. XIV (9 November 1710)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Gravity Fatigue

I remain concerned about falling off of things but we also must take into account gravity fatigue.  I care.  I do.  But how long must this go on?  As such, I will no longer be exercising caution near ledges, cliffs, and precarious stairwells.

-- James Hamblin, preventive medicine M.D. and public health policy lecturer, tweeting as @jameshamblin, 29 November 2021

Monday, November 29, 2021

Without Ambition

Time is the only critic without ambition.

-- John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (1902 - 1968), one of the most famous and most widely read American writers of the 20th century; winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, Writers at Work (1977), On Critics

Friday, November 26, 2021

Just A Man

Every child grows up thinking their father is a hero or villain until they are old enough to realize that he is just a man.

-- Mark Maish, Strategist, Business Capture Manager, and Civil Engineer from Nairobi, Kenya

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Thanksgiving Day!  All of my kids had their own Thanksgiving gatherings today, so my get-together is slated for Friday evening.  Enjoy the holiday, and the presence of one another.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

That's What They Mean

But Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck.  You heard what Linus was saying out there.  Those early Pilgrims were thankful for what had happened to them, and we should be thankful, too.  We should just be thankful for being together.  I think that's what they mean by "Thanksgiving", Charlie Brown.

-- The character Marcie in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973), by Charles Schulz

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation.  Go find somebody's hand and squeeze it, while there's time.

-- Dale Alan Dauten (1950 -), American business management columnist, author, and professional speaker, cited in: Colleen Zuck et al. (2002) Daily Word for Families, p. 167

Monday, November 22, 2021

2021 More Deadly Than 2020

As of September 25th 2021, more people had died of covid in 2021 than died during 2020.  The pandemic took 350,837 American lives through December 31st last year, and reached 703,778 lives lost through September 25th, adding 352,941 deaths in 2021.  The total through yesterday is 783,161, with just over 432K covid deaths in 2021.  Americans continue to die at a rate a little north of 1000 per day (and cases are rising again).  There are about 40 days left in the year.

I don't have anything deep or wise to add to that.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Self Defense


The use of force to protect oneself from an attempted injury by another.  If justified, self-defense is a defense to a number of crimes and torts involving force, including murder, assault and battery.  

-- Definition of self-defense from the Legal Information Institute

Thursday, November 18, 2021

All Too Familiar

The events that led to my conviction and wrongful imprisonment should never have happened.  Those events were the result of a process that was corrupt to its core -- one that is all too familiar -- even in 2021.

While I do not need a court, prosecutors, or a piece of paper to tell me I am innocent, I am glad that my family, my friends, and the attorneys who have worked and supported me all these years are finally seeing the truth we have all known officially recognized.

-- Muhammad Aziz, 83, who along with Khalil Islam, who died in 2009, was convicted in connection with the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, after both men were exonerated, 18 November 2021

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Wise And Sensitive Persons

Is there really someone who, searching for a group of wise and sensitive persons to regulate him for his own good, would choose that group of people that constitute the membership of both houses of Congress?

-- Robert Nozick (1938 - 2002), American libertarian philosopher and Pellegrino University Professor at Harvard University, Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), Ch. 2 : The State of Nature; Protective Associations, p. 14

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Nothing Is Harder

Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery.  If there's the hundredth part of a false note in speaking the truth, it leads to a discord, and that leads to trouble.  But if all, to the last note, is false in flattery, it is just as agreeable, and is heard not without satisfaction.  It may be a coarse satisfaction, but still a satisfaction.  And however coarse the flattery, at least half will be sure to seem true.  That's so for all stages of development and classes of society.

-- Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881), Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher whose works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia, Crime And Punishment (1866), Part VI, Chapter 4, p. 471

Monday, November 15, 2021

Freedom Or Loneliness?

And when nobody wakes you up in the morning, and when nobody waits for you at night, and when you can do whatever you want.  What do you call it, Freedom or Loneliness?

-- Charles Bukowski (1920 - 1994), US poet and novelist, "Loneliness", South Of No North (1973)

Friday, November 12, 2021

As Detailed

As detailed in the indictment, on September 23, 2021, the Select Committee issued a subpoena to Mr. Bannon.  The subpoena required him to appear and produce documents to the Select Committee, and to appear for a deposition before the Select Committee.  According to the indictment, Mr. Bannon refused to appear to give testimony as required by subpoena and refused to produce documents in compliance with a subpoena.

-- U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia, as quoted in a Justice Department press release, "Stephen K. Bannon Indicted for Contempt of Congress", 12 November 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Consume And Transform

All great human deeds both consume and transform their doers.  Consider an athlete, or a scientist, or an artist, or an independent business creator.  In the service of their goals they lay down time and energy and many other choices and pleasures; in return, they become most truly themselves.  A false destiny may be spotted by the fact that it consumes without transforming, without giving back the enlarged self.

-- Lois McMaster Bujold (1949 -), American author of science fiction and fantasy works, most noted for the works in her Vorkosigan Saga, Cordelia's Honor (1996), "Author's Afterword"

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


A U.S. space launch start-up has, for the first time, demonstrated a kinetic-based system that’s intended one day to put small spacecraft into orbit.  The SpinLaunch concept, which feels ripped right from the classic age of science fiction, is based around a vacuum-sealed centrifuge that spins an unpowered projectile at several times the speed of sound before releasing it, hurling it into the upper atmosphere, and ultimately into orbit.  In this way, the company, based in Long Beach, Calif., hopes to challenge traditional rockets for putting payloads into space.

The first test flight of a prototype -- a so-called suborbital accelerator -- took place at Spaceport America in New Mexico on October 22, but the company only announced the milestone yesterday.

The system uses a vacuum chamber within which a rotating arm brings a projectile up to very high speed without any drag penalty, before hurling it into the atmosphere "in less than a millisecond," according to the company, as a port opens for a fraction of a second to release the projectile.  A counterbalance spins in the opposite direction to prevent the system from becoming unbalanced.  The vacuum seal stays in place until the projectile breaks through a membrane at the top of the launch tube. 

-- Thomas Newdick and Tyler Rogoway, "Space Launch Start-Up Just Used A Giant Centrifuge To Fling A Projectile Into The Upper Atmosphere",, 10 November 2021

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

The Object Of Our Study

When we study law we are not studying a mystery but a well-known profession.  We are studying what we shall want in order to appear before judges, or to advise people in such a way as to keep them out of court.  The reason why it is a profession, why people will pay lawyers to argue for them or to advise them, is that in societies like ours the command of the public force is entrusted to the judges in certain cases, and the whole power of the state will be put forth, if necessary, to carry out their judgments and decrees.  People want to know under what circumstances and how far they will run the risk of coming against what is so much stronger than themselves, and hence it becomes a business to find out when this danger is to be feared.  The object of our study, then, is prediction, the prediction of the incidence of the public force through the instrumentality of the courts.

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841 - 1935), American jurist and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, The Path of the Law (1897) Harvard Law Review 457

Monday, November 08, 2021

Death Toll Gap

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid's death toll quickly emerged.  I have covered that gap in two newsletters -- one this summer, one last month -- and today's newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid's death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000).  October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

-- David Leonhardt, U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder, New York Times, 8 November 2021

Friday, November 05, 2021

First To Arrive

Some marry the first information they receive, and turn what comes later into their concubine.  Since deceit is always first to arrive, there is no room left for truth.

-- Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601 - 1658), Spanish Jesuit author regarded as one of the most accomplished prose stylists of the Baroque era, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647), Maxim 227 (p. 128)

Thursday, November 04, 2021

The Rainbow

We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that the savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.

-- Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910), more famous by his pen name Mark Twain, American humorist, novelist, writer, and lecturer, A Tramp Abroad (1880)

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

No Party

No party is as bad as its state and national leaders.

-- William Penn Adair Rogers (4 November 1879 - 15 August 1935), American humorist and entertainer; known primarily as Will Rogers, "I Accept the Nomination", Life magazine, 31 May 1928

Tuesday, November 02, 2021


What does winter or autumn or spring or summer know of memory. They know nothing of memory. They know that seasons pass and return. They know that they are seasons. That they are time. And they know how to affirm themselves. And they know how to impose themselves. And they know how to maintain themselves. What does autumn know of summer. What sorrows do seasons have. None hate. None love. They just pass.

-- Giannina Braschi (1953 -), Puerto Rican poet, novelist, and political philosopher, Empire of Dreams (1988)

Monday, November 01, 2021

Think And See

The foolish reject what they see and not what they think; the wise reject what they think and not what they see.

-- Huangbo Xiyun (died 850), influential Chinese master of Chan Buddhism. He was born in Fujian, China in Tang Dynasty.  Later he became a monk in Huangbo Shan (lit. Huangbo Mountain), after which he was named, as quoted in Visions from Earth (2004) by James R. Miller, p. 17

Friday, October 29, 2021

Thrift And Industry

A heavy progressive tax upon a very large fortune is in no way such a tax upon thrift or industry as a like would be on a small fortune.

-- Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, Jr. (1858 - 1919), American statesman, author, explorer, and soldier, 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909, Seventh annual message to the US Senate and House of Representatives (3 December 1907), published in A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1908, Vol. 11, p. 1242

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Good And Bad Things

I think Facebook is the next Microsoft in both the bad and the good senses.  That's an amazing company that is going to do a lot of good and bad things.

-- Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales (1966 -), American-British Internet entrepreneur and wiki pioneer who is most famous as one of the founders of Wikipedia, "Jimmy Wales on tech's future", Orlando Sentinel, 3 November 2007

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Five Principles

1. Carefully observe oneself and one's situation, carefully observe others, and carefully observe one's environment,

2. Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake,

3. Consider fully, act decisively,

4. Know when to stop,

5. Keep to the middle.

-- Jigoro Kano's Five Principles of Judo, Jigoro Kano (28 October 1860 - 4 May 1938), founder of the Japanese martial art of judo, quoted in Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters (2002) by John Stevens

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Decreased Fatalities

I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining, the getting friends and family to understand the risk of gathering in private homes, and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30 percent less to 40 percent less range.

-- Trump administration coronavirus advisor Dr. Deborah Birx in closed-door testimony before the House Select Coronavirus Subcommittee, estimating that 130,000 lives could have been saved with an increased federal response in the early days of the pandemic, October 12 & 13, 2021

Monday, October 25, 2021

Odium And Infamy

How long will men dare to call anything expedient that is not right?  Can odium and infamy be of service to any empire, which ought to be supported by glory and by the good-will of its allies?

-- Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), Roman philosopher, politician, and orator, De Officiis - On Duties (44 BC), Book III, Sect. 22