Friday, July 30, 2021

The Bond

The bond between a man and his profession is similar to that which ties him to his country; it is just as complex, often ambivalent, and in general it is understood completely only when it is broken: by exile or emigration in the case of one's country, by retirement in the case of a trade or profession.

-- Primo Levi (31 July 1919 - 11 April 1987), Italian chemist and author of memoirs, short stories, poems, and novels, Other People's Trades (1985), "Ex-Chemist"

Thursday, July 29, 2021

My Retirement Program

Millennials are the first generation of US Americans to have life prospects worse than their parents.  The astronomical student debt load means that many young people put off the major purchases and life events linked to adulthood in the US -- buying a car or a house, getting married.  At the same time, in highly populated cities like San Francisco, LA, Seattle, and NYC, rents are out of control.  And we don't have national healthcare.  So paying for the basics of everyday life has become impossible.  And we are told repeatedly that social security is in crisis and won't survive.  As one young person told me: "My retirement program is socialism".

-- Jodi Dean (1962 -), American political theorist and professor in the Political Science department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York state, "More than a third of millennials approve of communism, YouGov poll indicates", The Independent, 7 November 2019

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Easiest And Most Comfortable

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes.  It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions -- especially selfish ones.

-- Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1918 - 2008), Russian philosopher, novelist, dramatist and historian; 1970 Nobel Laureate in Literature, "Peace and Violence" (1973)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Scary Recipe

They came up, I think this was maybe their second or third time that they had come up on January 6th.  And even then, as belligerent as they were, it didn't account to this violence.  So the only difference that I see in that is that they had marching orders so to say.  When people feel emboldened by people in power, they assume that they're right.  One of the scariest things about January 6th is that the people that were there, even to this day think that they were right.  They think that they were right and that makes for a scary recipe for the future of this country.  So I think that's why it's very important that you all take this committee seriously and get to the bottom of why this happened and let's make it never happen again.

-- US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, 13-year veteran of the United States Capitol Police and a member of its first responder unit, in testimony to the January 6 House Select Committee, 27 July 2021

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Maker

The poet is, etymologically, the maker.  Like all makers, he requires a stock of raw materials -- in his case, experience.  Now experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in a doss-house.  It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing and hearing the significant things, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating.  Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.  It is a gift for dealing with the accidents of existence, not the accidents themselves.  By a happy dispensation of nature, the poet generally possesses the gift of experience in conjunction with that of expression.  What he says so well is therefore intrinsically of value.

-- Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 - 22 November 1963), British author, most famous for his novel Brave New World, Texts and Pretexts (1932) p. 5

Friday, July 23, 2021

Any Other Olympics

I saw a headline today that read, "Three Czech Athletes Test Positive" and all I could think was: Any other Olympics, and that headline would refer to a test for banned substances.  Not for Tokyo 2020.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

My Position Is Mistaken

In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again.  They really do it.  It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful.  But it happens every day.  I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

-- Carl Edward Sagan (1934 - 1996), American astronomer and popular science writer, Keynote address at 1987 CSICOP conference, as quoted in Do Science and the Bible Conflict? (2003) by Judson Poling, p. 30

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

If We Are Uncritical

If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories.  In this way it is only too easy to obtain what appears to be overwhelming evidence in favor of a theory which, if approached critically, would have been refuted.

-- Sir Karl Raimund Popper (1902 - 1994), Austrian and British philosopher, and professor at the London School of Economics, The Poverty of Historicism (1957) Ch. 29 The Unity of Method

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Listen Closely

We are all climbing different paths through the mountain of life, and we have all experienced much hardship and strife.  There are many paths through the mountain of life, and some climbs can be felt like the point of a knife.  Some paths are short and others are long, who can say which path is right or wrong?  The beauty of truth is that each path has its own song, and if you listen closely you will find where you belong.  So climb your own path true and strong, but respect all other truths for your way for them could be wrong. 

-- Daniel Arca Inosanto (24 July 1936 -), American martial arts instructor who is best known as a training partner of Bruce Lee, from his website at

Monday, July 19, 2021


The number of covid cases is climbing surprisingly quickly.

7/18/2021: 32,287 new cases / day -- Now (7-day average)
6/22/2021: 11,299 new cases / day -- Nadir
5/17/2021: 32,025 new cases / day -- Previous comparable rate

The climb in cases was so quick, it doesn't show up yet in increased deaths.  The nadir for cases was 13 days before the nadir for deaths.  Presumably the ~3x growth in cases will show up in deaths in the next 13 days.

7/18/2021: 266 new deaths / day -- Now (7-day average)
7/05/2021: 213 new deaths / day -- Nadir for deaths
6/22/2021: 323 new deaths / day -- Nadir for cases

Friday, July 16, 2021

Plant Trees

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.

-- Nelson Henderson, WW I veteran and farmer near Minitonas, Manitoba, Canada

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Practice What You Know

Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in so doing, you will in good time, discover the hidden things which you now inquire about.  Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know. 

-- Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606 - 4 October 1669), Dutch draughtsman, painter, and printmaker, generally considered one of the greatest visual artists in history, as cited in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern (1908) by Tryon Edwards, p. 131

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Alt Tour

As the Tour de France enters its final act after the second rest day, one EF Education-Nippo rider can put his feet up, content with a job well done.  That rider -- Lachlan Morton -- has just completed his Alt Tour, riding the entire Tour de France route, including all transfers, unsupported. 

That meant 5,510 km, instead of the Tour route's 3,383 km.  65,500 metres of vertical gain rather than the Tour's 42,200 m.  18 days of riding without a day's rest, versus the peloton's 21 and two rest days.  And all while sleeping under the stars, fixing his own punctures, taking care of his own mechanicals, and keeping himself fed and watered. 

The Australian rider, who has approached the sport from his own unique perspective throughout his career, set off from Brittany just after the Tour began and quickly built a lead over the race, cycling longer days and banking distance to give him enough of a buffer over the peloton for the final 700 km+ transfer north to Paris. 

-- Iain Treloar, "Lachlan Morton Has Beaten The Tour De France to Paris By Five Days",, 13 July 2021

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

We Need Not Travel Far

Let us not, however, deceive ourselves with the thought that vaulting ambition, that lust for power and place is a disease peculiar to great minds, for nothing is more commonly found among ordinary men in the humbler walks of life.  We need not travel very far in any direction to find a little Caesar or a little Napoleon.

-- William Henry Crogman (1841 - 1931), pioneering African American educator and classicist at Clark University of Atlanta in the United States, "The Importance of Correct Ideals", Address To The Students Of Talladega College, Talladega, Alabama, (June 1892)

Monday, July 12, 2021


We're here to make space more accessible to all.  We want to turn the next generation of dreamers into the astronauts of today and tomorrow.  We've all us on this stage have had the most extraordinary experience, and we'd love it if a number of you can have it, too. ...  If you ever had a dream, now is the time to make it come true -- and I'd like to end by saying welcome to the dawn of a new space age.

-- Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (18 July 1950 -), British entrepreneur, best known for the businesses he helped create under the Virgin brand name, quoted in "Richard Branson goes to space", by Jackie Wattles, Fernando Alfonso III, and Mike Hayes, CNN (11 July 2021)

Friday, July 09, 2021

Where Empires Go

Afghanistan -- where empires go to die.

-- Michael Dennis Malloy (1942 -), progressive American radio broadcaster based in Atlanta, now self-syndicated, quoted in Humans On The Run, by Kumar Tiku (2018)

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Walking Wounded

Under the present brutal and primitive conditions on this planet, every person you meet should be regarded as one of the walking wounded.  We have never seen a man or woman not slightly deranged by either anxiety or grief. we have never seen a totally sane human being.

-- Robert Anton Wilson (1932 - 2007), American novelist, essayist, absurdist philosopher, futurist, and guerilla ontologist, most famous for his satirical work (with Robert Shea), The Illuminatus! Trilogy.  Attributed

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Avoidable And Preventable

If you look at the number of deaths, about 99.2 percent of them are unvaccinated.  About 0.8 percent are vaccinated.  No vaccine is perfect.  But when you talk about the avoidability of hospitalization and death, Chuck, it's really sad and tragic that most all of these are avoidable and preventable

I mean, obviously there are going to be some people, because of the variability among people and their response to vaccine, that you'll see some who are vaccinated and still get into trouble and get hospitalized and die.  But the overwhelming proportion of people who get into trouble are the unvaccinated.  Which is the reason why we say this is really entirely avoidable and preventable.

-- Dr Anthony Fauci, speaking to Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press", 4 July 2021; there were 9,987 deaths in the US in June

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

In A Wind Tunnel

Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them.  And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.  Well, that's horsepuckey, of course.  We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions.  Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing.  It's just bibble-babble.  It's like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks.

-- Harlan Jay Ellison (1934 - 2018), American writer known for his prolific and influential work in New Wave speculative fiction, and for his outspoken, combative personality, Commentary on Sci-Fi Channel's Sci-Fi Buzz

Monday, July 05, 2021

Booted And Spurred

All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.  The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.  These are grounds of hope for others.  For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

-- Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 - 4 July 1826), author of the Declaration of Independence (1776)), founder of the University of Virginia (1819), third President of the United States (1801-1809), Letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining to attend July 4th ceremonies in Washington D.C. celebrating the 50th anniversary of Independence, because of his health.  This was Jefferson's last letter (24 June 1826)

Friday, July 02, 2021

Two Great Ideals

If a single statute represents the best of America, it is the Voting Rights Act.  It marries two great ideals: democracy and racial equality.  And it dedicates our country to carrying them out. 

If a single statute reminds us of the worst of America, it is the Voting Rights Act.  Because it was -- and remains -- so necessary.  Because States and localities continually contriv[ed] new rules," mostly neutral on their face but discriminatory in operation, to keep minority voters from the polls.  Because "Congress had reason to suppose" that States would "try similar maneuvers in the future" -- "pour[ing] old poison into new bottles" to suppress minority votes.  

Maybe some think that vote suppression is a relic of history -- and so the need for a potent Section 2 has come and gone.  But Congress gets to make that call.  Because it has not done so, this Court's duty is to apply the law as it is written.  The law that confronted one of this country's most enduring wrongs; pledged to give every American, of every race, an equal chance to participate in our democracy; and now stands as the crucial tool to achieve that goal.  That law, of all laws, deserves the sweep and power Congress gave it.  That law, of all laws, should not be diminished by this Court.

-- Justice Kagan, with whom Justice Breyer and Justice Sotomayor join, dissenting, in Arizona Republican Party v Democratic National Committee, 1 July 2021

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Lived, Not Taught

The doctrine you desire, absolute, perfect dogma that alone provides wisdom, does not exist.  Nor should you long for a perfect doctrine, my friend.  Rather, you should long for the perfection of yourself.  The deity is within you, not in ideas and books.  Truth is lived, not taught.

-- Hermann Karl Hesse (1877 - 1962), German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter; 1946 Nobel Laureate in Literature.  The Glass Bead Game (1943)