Friday, April 29, 2022

A Struggle

Now we are at ground zero as regards the world we need to build.  A world of respect for international law, the UN Charter, and the power of multilateralism.  A world where civilians have protection.  Where human rights are a priority.  Where leaders live up to the declared values they have committed to.  It is also a struggle, but we must win it for the sake of every country, community, and person around the world.

-- António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres (1949 -), ninth United Nations Secretary General, former Prime Minister of Portugal (1995 to 2002) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (2005 to 2015), as quoted in "Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with the UN Secretary-General in Kyiv" (28 April 2022)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Virtual Enfreakment

In "Contours of virtual enfreakment in fighting game characters," we analyze 64 characters who had ties to physical world nationalities and ethnicities from the popular fighting videogames Street Fighter V and Tekken 7.  

Through our analysis, we conclude that the distinct appearances, costumes, attitudes, and powers of these characters often result in a systematic process that we call virtual enfreakment -- the grotesque amplification of identity attributes based on cultural, ethnic, and gender prejudices, which objectifies and demeans some groups for the pleasure and consumption of others.  We propose that enfreakment not only affects the portrayals of underrepresented gender and ethnicities in a detrimental fashion but also that characters who stand in a power position within the hegemony of play (white, male, primarily Western, and secondarily Asian) can become exaggerated or stereotyped in their gender or ethnic identities.  We identify this as a future research direction.  Although our data contains only characters from Street Fighter V and Tekken 7, we argue that the phenomenon of enfreakment can be observed in other games and genres with crowded rosters of characters such as fighting games, looter shooters, multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs), and first-person shooter MOBAs.

-- Sercan Şengün, Research affiliate at MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality, Assistant Professor of Creative Technologies - Game Design at Illinois State University, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Game Design at Northeastern University, via Facebook, 27 April 2022

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Environment Of Urgency

Implications of wartime operations for global cybersecurity

The dynamic nature of the armed conflict will introduce a level of uncertainty not seen since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.  As the war progresses, actors with a vested interest in the conflict will operate under increasingly urgent requirements to fill critical intelligence gaps and achieve specific tactical objectives.  How cyber operators choose to meet these requirements may pose significant risk to the global cybersecurity landscape.

We assess that such an environment of urgency may incentivize the use of sensitive capabilities that will allow threat actors to gain assured access to networks or manipulate aspects of information systems to achieve strategic objectives.  Highly reserved capabilities such as zero-days, critical infrastructure attacks, supply-chain attacks, and other novel techniques will almost-certainly be showcased in the medium-term. 

-- Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust at Microsoft, The hybrid war in Ukraine, 27 April, 2022 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Credo Of Empowerment

All my life I have made it a rule never to permit a religious man or woman take for granted that his or her religious beliefs deserved more consideration than non-religious beliefs or anti-religious ones.

I never agree with that foolish statement that I ought to respect the views of others when I believe them to be wrong.

-- Chapman Cohen (1868 - 1954), English atheist and secularist writer and lecturer, The Credo of Empowerment, as quoted in David M. Mandell Atheist Acrimonious (Vervante, 2008), p. 176

Monday, April 25, 2022

Impossible Without Humility

Perfection is impossible without humility.  Why should I strive for perfection, if I am already good enough?

-- Lev Nikolayevitch Tolstoy [usually rendered Leo Tolstoy] (1828 - 1910), Russian writer, philosopher, and social activist, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth Day 2022

Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. We have killed so many animals and plants and destroyed their environments. Many are now extinct. In turn, our environment is now harming us. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps.

-- Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926 - 2022), expatriate Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author, The World We Have : A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology (2008), Ch. 1 : The Bells of Mindfulness, p. 3

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Start With The Truth

You have to start with the truth.  The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere.  Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance can't lead to a good conclusion.

-- Julian Paul Assange (1971 -), Australian computer programmer, and founder of WikiLeaks in 2006, "Julian Assange, monk of the online age who thrives on intellectual battle", The Guardian (1 August 2010)

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Smashing Things

Other people say that their parents are the same way whenever there's bad news from whatever patch of dirt they came from, but being common still doesn't mean it makes any sense.  After all, it was twenty years ago, and if the adults were going to get so upset about having everything smashed up, they shouldn't have had a war or tolerated AIDS for so long that they gave it the chance to turn into mutAIDS, or allowed the climate disequilibration to get so far out of hand.  Honestly, they remind me of the three-year-olds in the nursery, smashing things to bits and then crying because they're broken.  I certainly hope I'm not that kind of a moron when I'm that old.

-- John Barnes (1957 -), American science fiction author, in his Nebula Award-nominated Orbital Resonance (1991), Chapter 2 (pp. 22-23)

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Who Am I?

So who am I? 

I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom, who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense.

No child alive today is responsible for slavery. 

No one in this room is responsible for slavery. 

But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history.  Each and every single one of us decides what happens next and how we respond to history and the world around us. 

We are not responsible for the past. 

We also cannot change the past. 

We can't pretend that it didn't happen or deny people their very right to exist. 

-- Democratic Michigan state Senator Mallory McMorrow (1986 -), in response to accusations made by Republican Lana Theis in a fundraising letter, 19 April 2022

Monday, April 18, 2022

Long And Difficult Art

Few persons care to study logic, because everybody conceives himself to be proficient enough in the art of reasoning already.  But I observe that this satisfaction is limited to one's own ratiocination and does not extend to that of other men.

We come to the full possession of our power of drawing inferences the last of all our faculties, for it is not so much a natural gift as a long and difficult art.

-- Charles Sanders Peirce [pronounced like purse] (10 September 1839 - 19 April 1914), American philosopher, chemist, and polymath, now remembered as a pioneer of the field of semiotics and, with the formulation of the pragmatic maxim, the founder of the philosophies of Pragmatism and Pragmaticism, "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" First Paper -- The Fixation of Belief", in Popular Science Monthly, Vol. 12 (November 1877)

Friday, April 15, 2022


A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.

-- Jack Roosevelt Robinson (1919 - 1972), American professional baseball player who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era.  Robinson broke the baseball color line when he started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947.  I Never Had It Made (1972) by Robinson, as told to Alfred Duckett; excerpted in "Why 'I Never Had It Made': Jackie Robinson's Own Story," Newsday (5 November 1972)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Learning Proceeds

Learning proceeds until death and only then does it stop. ...  Its purpose cannot be given up for even a moment.  To pursue it is to be human, to give it up to be a beast.

-- Xún Zǐ or Hsün Tzu (c.312 BC - 230 BC), Chinese Confucian philosopher, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy (2001), p. 258

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Manifestly And Undoubtedly

[J]ustice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

-- Lord Chief Justice Hewart in R v Sussex Justices, ex p McCarthy (1923)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Official Stamp

[O]ne of the greatest dangers to the freedom of the individual to worship in his own way lay in the Government's placing its official stamp of approval upon one particular kind of prayer or one particular form of religious services.

-- Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority in Engel v Vitale (1962), ruling that New York State's requirement that all students recite the "Regent's Prayer" each day violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment (h/t

Monday, April 11, 2022

Tally Redux

This is a tally, 25,000 at a time, of cumulative US deaths from covid.  Some of these 25Ks are much too close together.  And it's worrisome that the most recent single-digit span of days with 25K deaths was just 60 days ago.  

And, of course, it's at least a little concerning that more than one million Americans have already died of covid.

 30,051   4/14/20 (~90)       526,588   3/03/21  (13)
 50,269   4/23/20  ( 9)       550,394   3/21/21  (18)
 76,496   5/07/20  (14)       575,098   4/18/21  (28)
100,145   5/26/20  (19)       600,004   5/20/21  (32)
126,216   6/25/20  (30)       625,106   7/28/21  (69)
150,230   7/27/20  (32)       650,786   8/28/21  (31)
175,726   8/19/20  (23)       675,652   9/13/21  (16)
200,883   9/17/20  (29)       701,312   9/24/21  (11)
226,178  10/21/20  (34)       727,357  10/08/21  (14)
250,393  11/15/20  (25)       750,369  10/22/21  (14)
275,027  12/01/20  (16)       775,853  11/12/21  (21)
300,188  12/11/20  (10)       801,168  12/03/21  (21)
325,550  12/21/20  (10)       827,664  12/23/21  (20)
350,837  12/31/20  (10)       850,647   1/10/22  (18)
377,718   1/09/21  ( 9)       877,846   1/21/22  (11)
402,005   1/15/21  ( 6)       902,465   2/01/22  (11)
425,783   1/24/21  ( 9)       927,504   2/10/22  ( 9)
450,271   2/01/21  ( 8)       950,407   2/22/22  (12)
475,424   2/09/21  ( 8)       976,406   3/09/22  (15)
500,586   2/18/21  ( 9)     1,000,145   4/08/22  (30)

Friday, April 08, 2022

Forgotten The Problems

Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems.  Throw away the solution and you get the problem back.

-- Donald MacDonald Kingsbury (1929 -), American-Canadian science fiction author, Courtship Rite (1982)

Thursday, April 07, 2022


On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 47, and this nomination is confirmed.

-- Vice President Kamala Harris, presiding over the Senate as Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the first Black female on the US Supreme Court, 7 April 2022

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

We Have All Seen

We have all seen the atrocities that have been committed in Bucha and other places in Ukraine.  This reveals the true nature of President Putin's war, and the targeting and killing of civilians is a war crime and therefore, NATO allies are supporting the international efforts to establish all the facts, to investigate, and to make sure that perpetrators are punished.  We are now in a critical phase of the war.  We see that Russia is moving forces out of the north to reinforce them, to resupply them, to rearm them and then to move them into the east where we are expecting a major offensive.  President Putin's aim is to try to control the whole of Donbas and to establish a land bridge [...].  We have seen no indication that President Putin has changed his ambition to control the whole of Ukraine and also to rewrite the international order.  So we need to be prepared for the long haul.  We need to support Ukraine, sustain our sanctions, and strengthen our defences and our deterrence, because this can last for a long time and we need to be prepared for that.

-- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a statement ahead of the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs, 6 April 2022 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Time Is

Time is the substance I am made of.  Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. 

-- Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986), Argentine writer, poet, critic, and translator, Other Inquisitions (1952)

Monday, April 04, 2022

Philosophical Eyebrows

The term knowledge raises philosophical eyebrows (strictly speaking, it should be called belief).

-- Zenon Walter Pylyshyn (1937 -), Canadian cognitive scientist and philosopher, and Professor of Psychology and Computer science at the University of Western Ontario, Computation and Cognition (1984) p. 130

Friday, April 01, 2022

50 Years Hence

A brief note in remembrance of my mother, Jane B Appleman, 20 September 1925 - 1 April 1972.  50 years feels like a long time, and like no time at all.