Monday, February 28, 2022

Pandemic Endemic

Just a note to mark the apparent administrative transition of covid from pandemic to endemic.  To date, CDC criteria have been based around case numbers, and our goal has been to prevent cases (and deaths).

Now, CDC criteria are based around available hospital capacity, and our goal is to prevent hospitals from becoming overcrowded.  

In some places, covid is a challenge to hospital capacity right now.  In the future it will be again, at different times and places around the world.  Sounds endemic.

(Here's hoping the variant faeries don't produce anything particularly miserable.)

Friday, February 25, 2022

Not Too Late

We are seeing Russian military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine on a scale that Europe has not seen in decades.

Day after day, I have been clear that such unilateral measures conflict directly with the United Nations Charter.

The Charter is clear: "All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold.

This applies to the present military offensive.

It is wrong.

It is against the Charter.

It is unacceptable.

But it is not irreversible. ,,,

The decisions of the coming days will shape our world and directly affect the lives of millions upon millions of people.

In line with the Charter, it's not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war.

-- U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, Statement by the Secretary-General - on Ukraine, 23 February 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

One By One

War happens to people, one by one.  That is really all I have to say and it seems to me I have been saying it forever.  Unless they are immediate victims, the majority of mankind behaves as if war was an act of God which could not be prevented; or they behave as if war elsewhere was none of their business.  It would be a bitter cosmic joke if we destroy ourselves due to atrophy of the imagination.

-- Martha Ellis Gellhorn (1908 - 1998), American war correspondent and novelist.  She covered nearly every war during the twentieth century.  Letter as quoted in "Gellhorn: A Twentieth Century Life" (2003) written by Caroline Moorehead

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Our Faces

The people of Ukraine and the government of Ukraine want peace.  But if we come under attack, if we face an attempt to take away our country, our freedom, our lives and lives of our children, we will defend ourselves.  When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs.

-- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in an overnight address, speaking in Russian in a direct appeal to Russian citizens, on the brink of Russian military aggression, 24 February 2022

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Putin v Ukraine

But in Ukraine, one third are ethnic Russians.  Out of forty five million people, in line with the official census, seventeen millions are Russians [actually 8.3M].  There are regions, where only the Russian population lives, for instance, in the Crimea.  90% are Russians [actually 59%].  Generally speaking, Ukraine is a very complicated state.  Ukraine, in the form it currently exists, was created in the Soviet times, it received its territories from Poland --  after the Second World war, from Czechoslovakia, from Romania -- and at present not all the problems have been solved as yet in the border region with Romania in the Black Sea.  Then, it received huge territories from Russia in the east and south of the country.  It is a complicated state formation.  If we introduce into it NATO problems, other problems, it may put the state on the verge of its existence.  Complicated internal political problems are taking place there.  We should act also very-very carefully.  We do not have any right to veto, and, probably, we do not pretend to have.  But I want that all of us, when deciding such issues, realize that we have there our interests as well.  Well, seventeen million Russians currently live in Ukraine.  Who may state that we do not have any interests there?  South, the south of Ukraine, completely, there are only Russians.

-- Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (7 October 1952 -), Russian politician and former KGB intelligence officer who is serving as the current President of Russia since 2012, previously being in the office from 1999 until 2008, in a speech at the NATO Bucharest summit, 2 April 2008

Monday, February 21, 2022

Caused By Greed

War has been the excuse people have made throughout history to take something away from others that didn't belong to them.  And it's a never ending cycle.  First one group takes away something from the other, then the other wants to take it back, only if they succeed, they take much more.  And then it starts all over again.  War is caused by greed.

-- László Széchenyi (1879 - 1938), Austro Hungarian military officer, Imperial Chamberlain, diplomat, and venture capitalist, Visions of Utopia, p. 67

Friday, February 18, 2022

Firm Resolve

I would not care whether truth is pleasant or unpleasant, and in consonance with or opposed to current views.  I would not mind in the least whether truth is, or is not, a blow to the glory of my country.  If necessary, I shall bear in patience the ridicule and slander of friends and society for the sake of preaching truth.  But still I shall seek truth, understand truth, and accept truth.  This should be the firm resolve of a historian.

-- Sir Jadunath Sarkar (1870 - 1958), prominent Indian Bengali aristocrat and historian, quoted in Meenakshi Jain, "Flawed Narratives – History in the old NCERT Textbooks"

Thursday, February 17, 2022

An Eager Air

Hamlet: The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
Horatio: It is a nipping and an eager air.

-- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), English poet, playwright, and actor, Hamlet, act i, scene 4

Wednesday, February 16, 2022


When we speak of power, we mean man's control over the minds and actions of other men. 

-- Hans Morgenthau (1904 - 1980), one of the leading twentieth-century figures in the study of international politics, Politics Among Nations (1948), p. 33 (1993 edition)

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

What Is Lost Remains Lost

Our loss is irreversible, and in that sense this outcome is neither redemptive nor restorative.  One moment we had this dazzling, energetic 6-year-old little boy, and the next all we had left were echoes of the past, photographs of a lost boy who will never grow older, calendars marking a horrifying new anniversary, a lonely grave, and pieces of Noah's life stored in a backpack and boxes.

Every day is a realization that he should be there, and he is not.  What is lost remains lost.  However, the resolution does provide a measure of accountability in an industry that has thus far operated with impunity.  For this, we are grateful.

-- Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, whose son, Noah, was killed at Sandy Hook, in a statement issued after Remington Arms agreed Tuesday to settle liability claims from the families of five adults and four children killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, marking the first time a gun manufacturer has been held accountable for a mass shooting in the U.S., 15 February 2022

Monday, February 14, 2022


The criterion of efficiency dictates that choice of alternatives which produces the largest result for the given application of resources.

-- Herbert Alexander Simon (1916 - 2001), American political scientist whose research ranged across the fields of cognitive psychology, computer science, public administration, economics, management, philosophy of science and sociology and was a professor, most notably, at Carnegie Mellon University, as cited in: Harry M. Johnson (1966) Sociology: A Systematic Introduction. p. 287

Friday, February 11, 2022

Better Than I

The most important step in getting a job done is the recognition of the problem.  Once I recognize a problem I usually can think of someone who can work it out better than I could.

-- Leó Szilárd (11 February 1898 - 30 May 1964), Hungarian-American physicist; he drafted the famous letter sent by Albert Einstein to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was largely responsible for initiating the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons during World War II, as quoted in "Close-up : I'm looking for a market for wisdom. : Leo Szilard, scientist" in LIFE‎ magazine, Vol. 51, no. 9 (1 September 1961), p. 75

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Wanting To Be Better

Music is all about wanting to be better at it.

-- Geddy Lee (born Gary Lee Weinrib, 28 July 1953), Canadian musician best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush, Global Bass, The Consummate Geddy Lee Interview (2000)

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Ones That Turn Out

If you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous.

-- Malcolm Timothy Gladwell (1963 -), English-born Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker.  Dangerous Minds: Criminal profiling made easy, The New Yorker (12 November 2007)

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Most Important

The most important thing to do in your life is to not interfere with somebody else's life.

-- Frank Zappa (21 December 1940 - 4 December 1993), American musician, singer, composer, and songwriter, in response to Joe Walsh when asked the meaning of life, The Howard Stern Show, 23 September 1987

Monday, February 07, 2022

Legitimate Political Discourse

Last week the Republican National Committee (RNC) made clear that it would rather be the "Big Lie" party than the "Big Tent" party by condemning two principled elected leaders while condoning conspiracies, lies, and violent insurrection. By censuring Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger for their role in investigating the January 6th attacks, they have betrayed the GOP's founding principles and ceded control of a once-great movement to grifters and extremists. The RNC has also signaled that it no longer welcomes people of conscience.

The RNC's description of the January 6th insurrection as "legitimate political discourse" is an affront to the rule of law, peaceful self-government, and the constitutional order. There can be no justifying the horrific attack that day, and we condemn the Committee for excusing the actions of men and women who battered police officers, ransacked our nation's Capitol, called for hanging the Vice President of the United States, and sought to overturn a free and fair election. 

History will mark this censure as a turning point for the RNC – a time of choosing between civility and patriotism, on the one hand, and conspiracy and political violence on the other. We stand firmly for the first set of values. We stand proudly next to principled leaders such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And we stand united against efforts to defile our democracy.

-- Statement of (100+) Republican leaders and former officials on the RNC's censure of Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger, 7 February 2022

Friday, February 04, 2022

I Heard This Week

There are those in our party who believe that, as presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, that I possess unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes.  And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election.  But President Trump is wrong.  I had no right to overturn the election.  The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone.  And frankly there is no idea more unamerican than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.  Under the Constitution I had no right to change the outcome of our election.

-- Michael Richard Pence (7 June 1959 -), American politician, broadcaster, and lawyer who served as the 48th vice president of the United States from 2017 to 2021, address to the Federalist Society (4 February 2022)

Thursday, February 03, 2022

A Complete Explanation

I do not envy people who think they have a complete explanation of the world, for the simple reason that they are obviously wrong.

-- Sir Salman Rushdie (1947 -), Indian-born British essayist and author of fiction, most of which is set on the Indian subcontinent, in an interview with David Frost (1993)

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Snow Day

It is snow to be shoveled, to make driving even worse than usual, snow to be joked about and cursed at, but unless the child in you is entirely dead, it is snow, too, that can make the heart beat faster when it catches you by surprise that way, before your defenses are up.  It is snow that can awaken memories of things more wonderful than anything you ever knew or dreamed.

-- Carl Frederick Buechner (1926 -), American writer, novelist, poet, and essayist, Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale (1977) 

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Two Things

Life is mostly froth and bubble;
   Two things stand like stone,
Kindness in another's trouble,
   Courage in your own.

   -- Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833 - 1870), Australian poet, jockey, and politician, "Finis Exoptatus (A metaphysical Song)" (24 November 1866)