Thursday, September 30, 2021

That Action Is Best

That Action is best, which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that worst, which, in like manner, occasions Misery.

-- Francis Hutcheson (1694 - 1746), Irish philosopher, An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725) Treatise II, Section 3

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


[T]his memo reiterates, that the scholarship football players at issue in Northwestern University clearly satisfy the broad Section 2(3) definition of employee and the common-law test.  Therefore, those football players, and other similarly situated Players at Academic Institutions, should be protected by Section 7 when they act concertedly to speak out about their terms and conditions of employment, or to self-organize, regardless of whether the Board ultimately certifies a bargaining unit.

In addition, because those Players at Academic Institutions are employees under the Act, misclassifying them as “student-athletes”, and leading them to believe that they are not entitled to the Act’s protection, has a chilling effect on Section 7 activity.  Therefore, in appropriate cases, I will pursue an independent violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act where an employer misclassifies Players at Academic Institutions as student-athletes. 

-- National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, in a memorandum to all Field offices providing updated guidance regarding her position that certain Players at Academic Institutions are employees under the National Labor Relations Act, and, as such, are afforded all statutory protections,, 29 September 2021

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can't sit on it for long.

-- Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin (1931 - 2007), Russian and former Soviet politician who served as the first President of Russia from 1991 to 1999, Televised speech (4 October 1993), as quoted in A Democracy of Despots (1995) by Donald Murray. p. 8

Monday, September 27, 2021


I previously posted a few tallies showing the date for each 10K covid deaths, and the number of days between 10Ks.  I stopped at 600K, but I'll post again tonight in observance of the 700,000th covid death in the United States.

This tally is a little deceptive, because the rate of death appears to be accelerating still. However, I expect deaths to plateau, and soon fall.  The peak of cases in the current (delta) wave came 9/1 with an average of ~166K new cases per day. Daily cases have been falling since then, and the current 7-day average of ~100K new cases per day is down 40%. Deaths should soon follow suit.

110,811  6/5  ( 9)  312,120 12/16 ( 5)  510,407  2/23 ( 5)
120,301  6/18 (13)  321,088 12/19 ( 3)  520,913  2/28 ( 5)
130,274  7/1  (13)  331,913 12/23 ( 4)  530,602  3/5  ( 5)
140,631  7/16 (15)  340,385 12/28 ( 5)  540,543  3/12 ( 7)
150,481  7/27 (11)  350,512 12/31 ( 3)  550,414  3/21 ( 9)
160,749  8/5  ( 9)  362,929  1/5  ( 5)  560,948  4/1  (11)
170,942  8/14 ( 9)  370,583  1/7  ( 2)  570,484  4/12 (11)
180,220  8/24 (10)  381,447  1/11 ( 4)  580,202  4/24 (12)
190,165  9/3  (10)  390,654  1/13 ( 2)  590,201  5/9  (15)
200,451  9/16 (13)  402,038  1/16 ( 3)  600,576  5/26 (17)
210,009  9/29 (13)  412,066  1/20 ( 4)  610,339  6/8  (13)
220,834 10/14 (15)  420,584  1/22 ( 2)  620,152  7/12 (34)
230,089 10/26 (12)  431,817  1/26 ( 4)  630,446  8/9  (28)
240,793 11/6  (11)  440,244  1/28 ( 2)  641,842  8/21 (12)
250,242 11/14 ( 8)  450,184  2/1  ( 4)  650,220  8/27 ( 6)
260,675 11/21 ( 7)  462,603  2/4  ( 3)  661,112  9/3  ( 7)
270,685 11/28 ( 7)  470,077  2/7  ( 3)  670,269  9/9  ( 6)
281,046 12/3  ( 5)  482,224  2/11 ( 4)  680,450  9/15 ( 6)
291,384 12/8  ( 5)  491,031  2/13 ( 2)  692,000  9/21 ( 6)
300,418 12/11 ( 3)  500,628  2/18 ( 5)  700,630  9/24 ( 3)

Friday, September 24, 2021


No human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial glimpses, never the full fruition.

-- Sir William Osler, 1st Baronet (1849 - 1919), Canadian physician, called one of the greatest icons of modern medicine,  "The Student Life" in The Medical News (30 September 1905)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A Mechanism

Science doesn't purvey absolute truth.  Science is a mechanism.  It's a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature.  It's a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match.  And this works, not just for the ordinary aspects of science, but for all of life.  I should think people would want to know that what they know is truly what the universe is like, or at least as close as they can get to it.

-- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992), Russian-born American biochemist and author of science fiction and non-fiction, Interview by Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers' World Of Ideas (21 October 1988); transcript (pages 5-6)

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Interpret Everything

Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.

-- Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992), Russian-born American biochemist who was a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction, Foundation’s Edge (1982), Chapter 12 "Agent" section 4, p. 226

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

It Doesn't Have Time

The airplane stays up because it doesn't have the time to fall.

-- Orville Wright (1871 - 1948), American inventor and aviation pioneer who is credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on 17 December 1903

Monday, September 20, 2021


One doesn't have to operate with great malice to do great harm.  The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.

-- Charles McRay Blow (1970 -), American journalist, commentator, and current visual op-ed columnist for The New York Times, I Know Why the Caged Bird Shrieks, New York Times, 19 September 2012

Friday, September 17, 2021

Ends To Be Served

In order to judge of the form to be given to this institution, it will be proper to take a view of the ends to be served by it.  These were, -- first, to protect the people against their rulers, secondly, to protect the people against the transient impressions into which they themselves might be led.

-- James Madison Jr. (1751 - 1836), fourth President of the United States, co-author, with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, of the Federalist Papers, traditionally regarded as the Father of the United States Constitution, Remarks on the institution of the Senate, in debates in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (26 June 1787) Journal of the Federal Convention, edited by E. H. Scott (1893), pp. 241 - 242

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Being Obliged

I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them.  For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.

-- Benjamin Franklin, speech in the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (17 September 1787); reported in James Madison, Journal of the Federal Convention, ed. E. H. Scott (1893), p. 741

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

RIP Norm Macdonald

There are two things which a man should scrupulously avoid: giving advice that he would not follow, and asking advice when he is determined to pursue his own opinion.

-- Norman Gene Macdonald (17 October 1959 - 14 September 2021), Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, Maxims And Moral Reflections, Maxims, Series III, #36, p. 58

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Can We Take Away

Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take away with us.

-- Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt (14 September 1769 - 6 May 1859), German naturalist and explorer, younger brother of diplomat and philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt, as quoted in Seed-grain for Thought and Discussion (1856) by Anna Cabot Lowell, Vol. 1, p. 260

Monday, September 13, 2021

Our Continuing Duty

As a nation, our adjustments have been profound.  Many Americans struggled why an enemy would hate us with such zeal.  The security measures incorporated into our lives are both sources of comfort and reminders of our vulnerability.  And we have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within.

There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home.  But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit.  And it is our continuing duty to confront them. 

-- Former President George W. Bush speaking at the Flight 93 National Memorial, 11 September 2021

Friday, September 10, 2021

Species Consciousness

Our best destiny, as planetary cohabitants, is the development of what has been called "species consciousness" -- something over and above nationalisms, blocs, religions, ethnicities.   During this week of incredulous misery, I have been trying to apply such a consciousness, and such a sensibility.  Thinking of the victims, the perpetrators, and the near future, I felt species grief, then species shame, then species fear. 

-- Martin Louis Amis (1949 -), British novelist, essayist, and short story writer, on the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001, "Fear and loathing", The Guardian (18 September 2001)

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Not Reason

He, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.

-- William Drummond of Logiealmond (c. 1770 - 1828), Scottish diplomat and Member of Parliament, poet, and philosopher, in Academical Questions (1805), Preface, p. 15

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

A Compact Mass

Men united by error constitute a compact mass.  The compactness of this mass is the evil of the world.  All the intellectual activity of humanity is directly destroying the cohesive power of deception. ...

Error is the force that welds men together; truth is communicated to men only by deeds of truth.  Only deeds of truth, by introducing light into the conscience of each individual, can dissolve the cohesion of error, and detach men one by one from the mass united together by the cohesion of error.

-- Lev Nikolayevitch Tolstoy (9 September 1828 - 20 November 1910), Russian writer, philosopher, and social activist, My Religion (1884), Ch. 12

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

There Is Nothing

Some day you will know for yourself that it is almost as true to say that one recovers from all things as that there is nothing which does not leave its scar.

-- Paul Charles Joseph Bourget (1852 - 1935), French novelist and critic, The Age for Love, Pierre Fauchery, as quoted by the character "Jules Labarthe"

Monday, September 06, 2021


The only difference as compared with the old, outspoken slavery is this, that the worker of today seems to be free because he is not sold once for all, but piecemeal by the day, the week, the year, and because no one owner sells him to another, but he is forced to sell himself in this way instead, being the slave of no particular person, but of the whole property-holding class.

-- Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895), 19th-century German philosopher, social scientist, and journalist, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 (1845) pp. 114-115

Friday, September 03, 2021

On Our Own Terms

The human desire to be understood is never quite sincere.  It is on our own terms that we desire to be understood, not on the terms of truth.

-- Elizabeth de Beauchamp Goudge (1900 - 1984), British author of novels, short stories, and children's books, The Child from the Sea (1970), Book 2, Ch. 1.5

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Legal Wine

We have permitted those whom a law threatens with constitutional harm to bring pre-enforcement challenges to the law where the harm is less serious and the threat of enforcement less certain than the harm (and the threat) here. 

I recognize that Texas’s law delegates the State’s power to prevent abortions not to one person (such as a district attorney) or to a few persons (such as a group of government officials or private citizens) but to any person.  But I do not see why that fact should make a critical legal difference.  That delegation still threatens to invade a constitutional right, and the coming into effect of that delegation still threatens imminent harm.  Normally, where a legal right is "invaded," the law provides "a legal remedy by suit or action at law." Marbury v. Madison (1803).  It should prove possible to apply procedures adequate to that task here. ...  There may be other not-very-new procedural bottles that can also adequately hold what is, in essence, very old and very important legal wine: The ability to ask the Judiciary to protect an individual from the invasion of a constitutional right -- an invasion that threatens immediate and serious injury.

-- Justice Stephen Breyer, joining the dissent of Chief Justice John Roberts, and Associate Justices Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor in Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson, 1 September 2021

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Darn Quiet

It was so darn quiet you could hear your hair grow.

-- Robert Anson Heinlein (1907 - 1988), popular, influential, and controversial author of science fiction, Farmer in the Sky (1950) Chapter 13, "Johnny Appleseed" (p. 131)