Monday, January 31, 2022

Only True Belongings

My actions are my only true belongings.  I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.  My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

-- Thich Nhat Hahn (11 October 1926 - 22 January 2022), expatriate Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" page 124

Friday, January 28, 2022

Not Responsible

The sense of responsibility for doing a job right seems to be declining.  In fact, the phrase "I am not responsible" has become a standard response in our society to complaints on a job poorly done.  This response is a semantic error.  Generally what a person means is: "I cannot be held legally liable."  Yet, from a moral or ethical point of view, the person who disclaims responsibility is correct: by taking this way out he is truly not responsible; he is irresponsible.

-- Hyman George Rickover (1900 - 1986), United States Navy admiral who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion and controlled its operations for three decades as director of Naval Reactors, Thoughts on Man's Purpose in Life (1974)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Great Honor

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and to serve under provisions of 28 USC 371(b).  I intend this decision to take effect when the Court rises for the summer recess this year.

I enormously appreciate the privilege of serving as part of the federal judicial system -- nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals Judge and nearly 28 years as a Member of the Supreme Court.  I have found the work challenging and meaningful.  My relations with each of my colleagues have been warm and friendly.  Throughout, I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law.

-- Stephen Breyer, in his resignation letter, 27 January 2022

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Lagrange Point 2

This week, nearly 30 days after its launch, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reached its final destination -- a small, gravitational well in space about a million miles from Earth, where it will live for decades or perhaps even all eternity.

"Webb, welcome home!" NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement Monday. "We're one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe.  And I can't wait to see Webb's first new views of the universe this summer!"

-- Nicole Karlis, James Webb Space Telescope: When to expect the first images from the state-of-the-art observatory,, 26 January 2022

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Not Whence Nor Whither

I am born into an environment -- I know not whence I came nor whither I go nor who I am.  This is my situation as yours, every single one of you.  The fact that everyone always was in this same situation, and always will be, tells me nothing.  Our burning question as to the whence and whither -- all we can ourselves observe about it is the present environment.  That is why we are eager to find out about it as much as we can.  That is science, learning, knowledge; it is the true source of every spiritual endeavour of man.

-- Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger (1887 - 1961), Austrian physicist, one of the founders of quantum theory, and winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics, Science and Humanism (1951)

Monday, January 24, 2022

Nothing Romantic

From what I know about alcoholism, I'd say there's nothing romantic, nothing grand, nothing heroic, nothing brave -- nothing like that about drinking.  It's a real coward's death.

-- Warren William Zevon (24 January 1947 - 7 September 2003), American rock singer-songwriter and musician, as quoted in "Warren Zevon's Resurrection: How he saved himself from a coward's death" by Paul Nelson, Rolling Stone (19 March 1981)

Friday, January 21, 2022

RIP Meat Loaf

You can decide what you want to eat for dinner, you can decide to go away for the weekend, and you can decide what clothes you're going to wear in the morning, but when it comes to artistic things, there's never a rhyme or reason.  It's, like, they just happen.  And they happen when they happen.

-- Michael Lee Aday (born Marvin Lee Aday; 27 September 1947 - 20 January 2022), known primarily by his stage name Meat Loaf, American rock singer and actor, famous for the hit album Bat out of Hell (1977), Interview with Will Harris at, "A chat with Meat Loaf" (27 October 2006)

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Most Dangerous

One of the most dangerous forms of human error is forgetting what one is trying to achieve.

-- Paul Henry Nitze (1907 - 2004), American politician who served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Defense, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, and Director of Policy Planning for the U.S. State Department, War Whether We Need It Or Not? (1991)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Travel And Tell No One

Travel and tell no one, 
Live a true love story 
  and tell no one, 
Live happily 
  and tell no one, 
People ruin 
  beautiful things. 

-- Gibran Khalil Gibran (1883 - 1931), usually referred to in English as Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist, "Travel and tell no one" (attributed)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Baby Shark

"Baby Shark," the inescapable earworm beloved by some children and often feared by their parents, has hit a new milestone -- 10 billion views on YouTube.

Not only is it the most-viewed video on the platform, a record it set in November 2020, but it's now the only video on the site to reach 10 billion views, YouTube confirmed to CNN.

The kids' song, masterminded by South Korean educational company Pinkfong and performed by Korean-American singer Hope Segoine, debuted in 2016 and was a viral hit in Asia but didn't jam itself into Americans' collective consciousness until 2019. Since then, it's been turned into a Nickelodeon TV show, a cereal, a live show and the rallying cry of the Washington Nationals throughout their World Series-winning season. 

-- Scottie Andrew, "'Baby Shark' becomes the first YouTube video to hit 10 billion views", CNN, 13 January 2022

Monday, January 17, 2022

Well Timed

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.  For years now I have heard the word "wait."  It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity.  This "wait" has almost always meant "never."  It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration.  We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."  We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights.  The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.  I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." 

-- Martin Luther King Jr. (15 January 1929 - 4 April 1968), American Baptist minister and activist, "Letter from Birmingham City Jail", an open letter written on 16 April 1963

Friday, January 14, 2022

Limited In Importance

I don't have a problem with someone using their talents to become successful, I just don't think the highest calling is success.  Things like freedom and the expansion of knowledge are beyond success, beyond the personal.  Personal success is not wrong, but it is limited in importance, and once you have enough of it it is a shame to keep striving for that, instead of for truth, beauty, or justice.

-- Richard Matthew Stallman (1953 -), founder of the Free Software movement, the GNU project, the Free Software Foundation, and the League for Programming Freedom, "Free Software as a Social Movement" on Znet (18 December 2005)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

RIP Sidney Poitier

Hope is the eternal tool in the survival kit for mankind.  We hope for a little luck, we hope for a better tomorrow, we hope -- although it is an impossible hope -- to somehow get out of this world alive.  And if we can't and don't, then it is enough to rejoice in our short time here and to remember how much we loved the view.

-- Sidney Poitier KBE (1927 - 2022), Bahamian-American actor, film director, and diplomat; in 1964, he was the first African-American to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.  Life Beyond Measure : Letters to My Great-Granddaughter (2008), twenty-third letter -- The World I Leave You, p. 273

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Not A Character Flaw

When wealth is passed off as merit, bad luck is seen as bad character.  This is how ideologues justify punishing the sick and the poor.  But poverty is neither a crime nor a character flaw.  Stigmatise those who let people die, not those who struggle to live.

-- Sarah J. Kendzior (1978 -), American journalist, author, and anthropologist, Poverty is not a character flaw,, 5 October 2013

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

That Is The Point

One day, the mountain that is in front of you will be so far behind you, it will barely be visible in the distance.  But the person you become in learning to get over it?  That will stay with you forever.  And that is the point of the mountain.

-- Brianna Wiest (1992 -), American essayist, author, and poet, The Mountain Is You (2020)

Monday, January 10, 2022

This Transplant

It was either die or do this transplant.  I want to live.  I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice.

-- David Bennett, Sr., a 57-year-old Maryland handyman, the day before surgery to transplant the heart of a genetically-modified pig into a human for the first time, 6 January 2022

Friday, January 07, 2022

Thought Experiment

So, on this anniversary, here's a simple thought experiment: What if the other side had done it?  What if in early January 2017, Democrats similarly attired and armed had stormed the Capitol and attempted to keep Congress from receiving the Electoral College results for the 2016 presidential election?

What if Democrats claimed that Donald Trump's razor-thin victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin resulted from extensive voter fraud and should be rejected, despite having failed to establish in a single court that extensive fraud had actually occurred?

What if some of these Democrats breached the Capitol defenses and threatened violence against the Republican speaker, Paul Ryan, and Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell ?

What if they insisted that in his role as Senate president then-Vice President Joe Biden had sole authority to seat Hillary Clinton's electors from any contested states and thereby hand her the presidency?

If this happened, would some of my fellow Republicans have accepted it as merely a protest?  Would they have called patriots those charged with violent acts against our country, its laws and Constitution?  Would they have accepted such extralegal means to change the outcome of a presidential election?

No they would not.  I'm certain of that.

-- Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, Republicans' Jan. 6 Responsibility - The GOP has a duty to condemn the riot and those who refuse to acknowledge it, Wall Street Journal, 5 January 2022

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Their Will Prevails

My fellow Americans, in life, there's truth and, tragically, there are lies -- lies conceived and spread for profit and power.

We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie.

And here is the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.  He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interests as more important than his country's interests and America's interests, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.

He can't accept he lost, even though that's what 93 United States senators, his own Attorney General, his own Vice President, governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said: He lost.

That's what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward.

He has done what no president in American history -- the history of this country -- has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.

You can't love your country only when you win.

You can't obey the law only when it's convenient.

You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.

Those who stormed this Capitol and those who instigated and incited and those who called on them to do so held a dagger at the throat of America -- at American democracy.

This is not a land of kings or dictators or autocrats.  We're a nation of laws; of order, not chaos; of peace, not violence.

Here in America, the people rule through the ballot, and their will prevails.

-- President Joe Biden, Remarks To Mark One Year Since The January 6th Deadly Assault On The U.S. Capitol, 6 January 2022

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

We Will Follow The Facts

[W]e at the Department of Justice will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy.

We will defend our democratic institutions from attack.

We will protect those who serve the public from violence and threats of violence.

We will protect the cornerstone of our democracy: the right to every eligible citizen to cast a vote that counts.

And we will do all of this in a manner that adheres to the rule of law and honors our obligation to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of everyone in this country.

Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of January 6th, 2021 -- the day the United States Capitol was attacked while lawmakers met to affirm the results of a presidential election. ...

In the aftermath of the attack, the Justice Department began its work on what has become one of the largest, most complex, and most resource-intensive investigations in our history.

Only a small number of perpetrators were arrested in the tumult of January 6th itself.  Every day since, we have worked to identify, investigate, and apprehend defendants from across the country.  And we have done so at record speed and scale -- in the midst of a pandemic during which some grand juries and courtrooms were not able to operate. ...

The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last.

The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law -- whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.  We will follow the facts wherever they lead.

-- U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Remarks on the First Anniversary of the Attack on the Capitol, 5 January 2022

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Political Controversy

The thing that strikes me more and more -- and it strikes a lot of other people, too -- is the extraordinary viciousness and dishonesty of political controversy in our time.  I don't mean merely that controversies are acrimonious.  They ought to be that when they are on serious subjects.  I mean that almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters as long as you can score a neat debating point.

-- George Orwell (1903 - 1950), pen name of British novelist, essayist, and journalist Eric Arthur Blair, whose work is characterized by lucid prose, and awareness of social injustice, "As I Please," Tribune (8 December 1944)

Monday, January 03, 2022

RIP Betty White

You don't just luck into integrity.  You work at it.

-- Betty Marion White Ludden (17 January 1922 - 31 December 2021), American actress and comedian, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) (2011)