Friday, March 29, 2024

Happy Easter!

Every parting gives a foretaste of death, every reunion a hint of the resurrection.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860), German philosopher, Counsels and Maxims (1851), Vol. 2, Ch. 26, § 310, as translated by Eric F. J. Payne

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Packaged Opinion

There is simply too much to think about.  It is hopeless -- too many kinds of special preparation are required.  In electronics, in economics, in social analysis, in history, in psychology, in international politics, most of us are, given the oceanic proliferating complexity of things, paralyzed by the very suggestion that we assume responsibility for so much.  This is what makes packaged opinion so attractive.

-- Saul Bellow (1915 - 2005), Canadian-born American writer, Nobel Laureate in Literature in 1976 and National Medal of Arts winner in 1988, It All Adds Up (1994) "There Is Simply Too Much to Think About" (1992), pp. 173-174

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

RIP Joe Lieberman

I will not hesitate to tell my friends when I think they're wrong and to tell my opponents when I think they're right.

-- Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman (24 February 1942 - 27 March 2024), American politician from Connecticut, "Lieberman announces presidential bid", CNN (13 January 2003)

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

On Balance

There are pros and cons in America, and so far, we have risen to the occasion.  So naturally, on balance, I’m optimistic.

-- Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in an interview with Ankush Khardori for POLITICO Magazine, 26 March 2024

Monday, March 25, 2024

Manipulate Or Consume

We consume, as we produce, without any concrete relatedness to the objects with which we deal; we live in a world of things, and our only connection with them is that we know how to manipulate or to consume them.

-- Erich Fromm (1900 - 1980), German social psychologist and humanistic philosopher, The Sane Society (1955) Ch. 5: Man in Capitalistic Society, p. 134 Sect.C.2.b "Alienation"

Friday, March 22, 2024

Most Important Product

Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is.  The most important product of his effort is his own personality.

-- Erich Seligmann Fromm (23 March 1900 – 18 March 1980), German social psychologist and humanistic philosopher, Man for Himself (1947) Ch. 4 "Problems of Humanistic Ethics"

Thursday, March 21, 2024

More Rational

I've always wanted to make the world a more rational place.  I'm still working on it.

-- Penn Fraser Jillette (1955 -), American magician, scientific skeptic, actor, musician, inventor, television presenter, and author, best known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller, "10 Questions: Penn Jillette", IGN (18 June 2003)

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

True Spirit

The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself.

-- Jean de La Bruyère (1645 - 1696), French essayist and moralist, "Of Society and conversation", 16

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Human Consensus

Human consensus does not generate reality.  Were it able to do so, the Sun would have taken to orbiting the Earth some time ago.

-- Ursula Goodenough (16 March 1943 -), professor of Biology and a leading proponent of Religious Naturalism and the epic of evolution, on the scientific worldview in "A Setback to the Dialogue: Response to Huston Smith" in Zygon: Journal of Religion & Science Vol. 36, Issue 2 (June 2001), p. 201

Monday, March 18, 2024




expressing opinions on matters outside the scope of one's knowledge or expertise.


a person who expresses opinions on matters outside the scope of their knowledge or expertise.

-- Definition from Oxford Languages via

Friday, March 15, 2024

Opposed Ideas

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

-- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940), Irish-American novelist and short story writer, "The Crack-Up" in Esquire (1 February 1936)

Thursday, March 14, 2024

A Big Lift

When I was growing up and being taught the American system of government, we would always be taught that the U.S. government has checks and balances in its design, so you can't take it over with a sentiment of the moment.  But I think what we've learned is that the institutions that protect us are fragile.  History suggests that all democracies are fragile.  So we have to be on the alert for political movements that want to undermine democratic institutions, because the purpose of democratic institutions is not to put the best people in power, it's to maintain democracy even when the worst people are in power.  That's a big lift.

-- Mike Godwin, who in 1990 coined "Godwin's Law", in an interview with Politico, "‘Trump Knows What He's Doing': The Creator of Godwin's Law Says the Hitler Comparison Is Apt" (19 December 2023)

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

One Thing

Remember one thing about democracy.  We can have anything we want and at the same time, we always end up with exactly what we deserve.

-- Edward Albee (12 March 1928 - 16 September 2016), American playwright, known for works including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, as quoted in Unleashing Intellectual Capital (2000) by Charles Ehin, p. 99

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Golden Anniversary

On this date 50 years ago today, 12 March 1974, my first PLATO signon "donald appleman / cerl" was created for me by Bill Golden.  

I was a 9th-grade student in Urbana at the time, and my Chemistry teacher had an "in" with Don Bitzer, and was able to arrange this for me.  That act on her part launched my lifelong career.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Sweden Joins NATO

Since Thursday last week Sweden is a proud member of NATO.  The most successful organisation for peace and security that has ever existed.  We are now an ally amongst allies.  After more than 200 years of military non-alignment, this is a historic step. 

But also, a very natural step.  We have been preparing for decades.  And in details the last two years.  With this membership, Sweden has come home. 

Home to the security cooperation of democracies.  Home to the security cooperation of our good neighbours. 

Today, I'd like to say thank you to all of our Allies.  We have chosen you, and you have chosen us.  All for one, one for all. ...

Sweden will be a safer country in NATO, and NATO will be a stronger alliance with Sweden in it.

By joining NATO, Sweden -- like Finland just before us -- has exercised our right to freely choose our own security arrangements. 

That invaluable right is at the core of the European security order -- so bravely being defended in Ukrainian battlefields, as we meet here in Brussels. ...

Sweden joining NATO is not the end of something -- it's a beginning.  I look forward to help making the world a safer and freer place together with all of our Allies.

-- Speech by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at a ceremony in Brussels to mark Sweden joining NATO, 11 March 2024

Friday, March 08, 2024

In Season

It is always in season for old men to learn.

-- Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC), playwright of ancient Greece, the earliest of the three greatest Greek tragedians, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, Age

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Times Like These

In times like these, it's helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.

-- Paul Harvey Aurandt (1918 - 2009), American radio broadcaster, famous for his idiosyncratic delivery of news stories with dramatic pauses, quirky intonations, and many of his standard lead-ins and sign offs, as quoted in Respectful Treatment : The Human Side of Medical Care (1977) by Martin R. Lipp

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Gumdo Class

Tonight I was pleased to teach my first Haidong Gumdo (Korean swordsmanship) class.  

Although we are not yet certified by the World Haidong Gumdo Federation, they encouraged us to take on a few hand-picked White-belt students.  This will allow us to practice teaching the basics, which will help us as instructors to get our own practice on the basics.  We're also taking our proposed curriculum on a much-needed shakedown cruise.

Tonight I had three students in class, and we went over the most basic of basics.  Our master instructor Grandmaster Jeong-Woo Kim, Chief of Education for the World Haidong Gumdo Federation, will be back this summer to complete our training and, if all goes well, certify us as instructors.  At that point, we'll open up the class to more students and start awarding rank in Gumdo.

Tuesday, March 05, 2024


Don't worry about people stealing an idea.  If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.

-- Howard H. Aiken (1900 - 1973), pioneer in computing, being the primary engineer behind IBM's Harvard Mark I computer, as quoted in Portraits in Silicon (1987) by Robert Slater

Monday, March 04, 2024

Prairie Play Pavers

Back in 1995 the Prairie Play Playground at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, IL, a large wooden structure that looks a bit like a castle, was constructed using volunteer labor including my own.  It was also financed, at least partly, by the sale of over 1200 concrete pavers.

The pavers were 16x16x4 inch cement slabs that weighed about 80 pounds each.  You could pay for a paver, and then write your name or whatever you liked in the wet cement.  The pavers were then laid out around the outside of Prairie Play.  At the time, my family ordered 2 pavers, and my 4 (at the time) daughters left handprints in the wet cement, along with their names, and the date 4-95 for April 1995.

The playground is set for tear-down early this month after nearly 30 years.  The park district reached out to the community, making pavers available to their original owners.  Saturday morning I drove out with my youngest daughter (not born yet in 1995) and we retrieved our 2 pavers.  Those pavers now reside in the garden on either side of the porch in front of my house, and still show those 1995 handprints of my 4 oldest girls, who are now 38, 37, 34, and 30.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Without A Shadow Of A Doubt

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

-- Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910), Russian writer, philosopher, and social critic, whose novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina are internationally praised classics of world literature, The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894) Chapter III, Christianity Misunderstood by Believers