||Quotes that have touched me (page 9 of 16)
|Disclaimer: Citation of a quote,
below, does not necessarily imply that I agree with what it asserts
(under whatever interpretation); it does mean I feel the text says something
seriously worth thinking about.
|"Every sentence that I utter
should be regarded by you not as an assertion
but as a question." --Niels Bohr|
is more to the surface than meets the eye." --Aaron Beck|
|| Go to
more recent entries
I was proud of the idea [of conserving gasoline and reducing time persons waste commuting, by having
persons live closer to their workplaces] until after the talk a man came up to me and
said, "Dr. [name deleted] do you know that the only time in my life that I have to
myself is when I am commuting. At work the boss is after me. At home my wife is
after me. And you want to reduce this time of freedom for me?"
Needless to say that was the last time I ever used that example.
The event was many years ago and I recall it with clarity. I was younger
and so proud of this new social indicator. This man was obviously
interested in environmental matters. He seemed so troubled by the concept
that I was moved to "hear him" in an empathic way. As I recall the incident
he seemed scared and almost teary of losing this free, unencumbered space in
an otherwise hectic and harried life.
|Personal correspondence. Ed.note:
I think this story eloquently indicates how persons may find themselves "trapped" in
life situations where they feel they cannot get up and out to something better,
and therefore they try to make the best of it. The way the man expressed himself seems exemplary
in bringing a person with whom one has a disagreement around to
having genuine empathy for one's issues, when such situations offer such "good" opportunity to make the
other person "defensive" and "turn them off", i.e.,
to make one's problems even worse than they already were.|
|The blackout of 2003 offers a simple but powerful lesson:
Markets are a great way to organize economic activity, but they need adult supervision....
The spread of markets... is increasingly focusing attention on the need to make them
work well... or risk backlash. Spectacular failures, such as the blackout, put market advocates on the defensive, including
market-loving Republicans who control the U.S. government. They are now turning from
advocating markets to fixing them.... "Our support for markets must not be based on blind faith," [Patrick] Wood...
the Bush appointee who serves as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission... said... "We cannot
simply let markets work. We must make markets work."
Markets that arise spontaneously -- street vendors, for instance -- rely
almost entirely on informal mechanisms, because the're so simple.... But such markets aren't typical of a modern economy,
says John McMillan, an economist at Stanford University's business school.... Consider the history of
football.... "An absolutely free market," [McMillan] writes, "is like folk
football, a free-for-all brawl... [a]ny number of people could play... no referee... [l]ittle
skill... just muscle.... A real market is like American football, an ordered brawl"....
Is it every little electric utility bobbing on the sea by itself, which obviously didn't work
the other day? Or does it need more rationality and organization around it?
|David Wessel, "Visible Hands: A Lesson From the Blackout:
Free Markets Often Need Rules", The Wall Street Journal, 28Aug03, p.A1,A2.|
[Ed. note: Read more about free markets and social planning.
Also: Paul Krugman NYT OpEd piece on: "faith-based deregulation"
|...[T]he suicide bomber is clearly the weapon of choice for international terrorists....
"It's the ultimate asymmetric weapon," explained Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center for the
Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews.
"You can assimilate among the people, and then attack with an element of surprise that has an
incredible and devastating shock value."
Without weapons of mass destruction, a single terrorist can create a disproportionate impact by detonating a bomb --
whether the result is crumpling the road map to Mideast peace or undermining American efforts to win the peace in Iraq....
In the United States, the motives of the suicide bomber are often misunderstood.
"It is the general consensus that martyrs hate democracy, and are crazies -- this is not true," said Scott Atran,
a scientist at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris and at the University of Michigan.
"These people showed no sign of psycho pathology. They were from middle and upper class families.
Poverty is not a factor. The factor is diminishing expectations. No matter how rich or poor,
if you have not achieved what you expected, you are more likely to back a radical policy."
"The fact that they've been able to sustain the tactic suggests that this tactic is applauded in the community,
and it reflects a society under considerable stress," said Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the RAND Corporation.
"I think we'd all agree, and it's not just a Western view, that suicide bombing is abnormal.
The fact that abnormal behavior is applauded reflects abnormal conditions. If normal conditions are restored,
then normal behavior should return -- at least they'd be less tolerant of abnormal behavior."
|Don van Natta Jr., "Big Bang Theory:
The Terror Industry Fields Its Ultimate Weapon", MYT Week in Review, 24Aug03, p.WK1,WK7.
The article continues: "Of the terrorism industry's two raw materials -- bombs and people --
people are far easier to come by. In the militant corners of the Muslim world, signing up for such a
mission infuses the volunteer with an urgent purpose and the promise of glory.
It seems unlikely that the bombs will ever outnumber the people eager to deliver them....
Jessica Stern, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the author of
'Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill'...
conclude[s] that suicide bombers are a terrorist organization's most economically viable way to conduct its bloody business.
'It's certainly cost-effective,' Ms. Stern said, 'both financially and in terms of the number
of terrorist lives ultimately put at risk.'"|
|Asked about U.S. force presence in
Bush said the U.S. presence is being "gradually replaced" by other troops.
"We've got about 10,000 troops there, which is down from, obviously, major combat operations," he said.
"And they're there to provide security and they're there to provide reconstruction help.
But both those functions are being gradually replaced by other troops....
more and more coalition forces and friends are beginning to carry a lot of the burden in Afghanistan."
In fact, the 10,000 troops in Afghanistan represent the highest number of U.S. soldiers in the country
since the war there began. By the time the Taliban government had been vanquished in December 2001,
U.S. troops numbered fewer than 3,000 in Afghanistan. And three months later, in March 2002,
when the last major battle against remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda took place in eastern Afghanistan,
about 5,000 U.S. troops were in the country.
||Dana Milbank and Bradley Graham,
"Bush Revises Views On 'Combat' in Iraq: 'Major Operations' Over, President Says",
The Washington Post, 19Aug03, p.A15.|
|A popular Sunni Muslim cleric has provided grass-roots and
financial support to a leading anti-American Shiite cleric, a rare example of cooperation across
Iraq's sectarian divide that has alarmed U.S. officials for its potential to bolster festering
resistance to the American occupation, senior U.S. and Iraqi officials say....
"This is a political challenge, and it is a distraction, and it keeps the show from getting on the road,"
said a senior U.S. official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "We cannot afford the distraction."
"Iraqi Clerics Unite in Rare Alliance:
U.S. Fears Shiite, Sunni Cooperation Will Bolster Resistance", The Washington Post, 17Aug03, p.A01.
Ed. note: Is this reminiscent of the way the possibility of Al Gore
winning the 2000 U.S. Presidential election constituted a distraction to The Bush Administration
getting its show on the road,
which it could not afford?|
|Investigators are still trying to
pinpoint the cause of [the largest
power blackout in U.S. history, Thu. 14Aug03], but it is clear that the energy grid failed....
Former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson... said the problem is
an antiquated electric system, that's simply not up to 21st century demands....
Since the 1996 [power] outage [in the Pacific Northwest
that affected 2,000,000 people in 11 Western states...], the government has been
playing a smaller role in regulating electricity....
Bill Colmish of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council... says, as
market forces come to dominate the power industry, it gets harder to
build in safeguards: "One thing to remember is that reliability
is expensive. The more reliable a system, the more it costs.
There has always been push and shove between reliability and
economics. Economics has been trying to push
reliability to the background for the past several years."
||Scott Horsley, "Experts Work to Find Cause of Outage",
NPR All Things Considered, Fri. 15Aug03 (Transcribed by BMcC).
See NYT headline.|
lines, for the most part, are not owned by the government, and unless there's a profit motive for
private companies, you're not going
to see the sort of investment that's needed.... Somehow they have to
create some financial rewards for investment, and it's not easy, because if you do it right,
you actually want to build more transmission capacity than you really need, and that's not
something the free market usually rewards. At the same time, somebody's got to
figure out what this blackout cost the country, and that's going to be
substantial, so there's a real economic incentive to try to keep it from happening again."
"Power Grid Studied in Blackout's Aftermath", NPR
All Things Considered, Sat. 16Aug03 (Transcribed by BMcC).|
|"There's the paradox," said Edward Tenner,
author of "Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences"....
"The grid definitely makes life safer and more reliable," but when something does go wrong,
"we've seen that the dominoes can start to fall over a wider and wider area."....
From video games to A.T.M.'s to desktop computers -- most of which didn't exist in earlier blackouts --
dead devices brought normal life to a stop across the afflicted region.
But the sensitivity of the grid to power failures has much wider implications,
since Americans -- and the citizens of the rest of the world -- seem to like technologies
that give them an illusion of independence within a giant web.
Cellphones operate on a similar principle of connectivity. So do municipal water systems. So does the Internet.
The list is increasingly long. And that is why some experts believe that what is beginning
to look like a worldwide push for wildly interconnected technologies will
have more and more serious days of reckoning....
||James Glanz, "Its Coils Tighten, and the Grid Bites Back"
NYT Week in Review, 17Aug03, p.WK1.|
|"...[T]he transmission network has been neglected....
And the cause of that neglect is faith-based deregulation.
In the past, electric power was considered a natural monopoly. It was and is impractical to have companies
competing either to wire up homes and businesses, or to build long-distance transmission lines.
Because effective competition was impossible, power companies were given local monopolies, and
regulated to keep them from exploiting customers.
These regulated monopolies took responsibility for the whole system -- transmission and distribution as well as generation....
[E]nergy experts have long warned that deregulation would lead to neglect of the grid.
Under the old regulatory system, power companies had strong incentives to ensure the integrity of power transmission --
they would catch the flak if something went wrong.
But those incentives went away with deregulation: because effective competition in transmission wasn't possible,
the companies providing transmission still had to be regulated. But because regulation limited their profits,
they had little financial incentive to invest in maintaining and upgrading the system.
And because of deregulation elsewhere, responsibility was diffused:
nobody had a strong stake in keeping the system reliable. The result was a failure not just to add capacity,
but to maintain and upgrade capacity that already existed.
These experts didn't necessarily oppose deregulation; their point was that deregulation could lead
to disaster unless accompanied by policies not just to keep the grid reliable, but to expand it.
(To make competition possible, a deregulated system needs considerably more transmission capacity
than one based on regulated monopolies.) But their warnings weren't taken seriously;
politicians and deregulation enthusiasts simply had faith that somehow "the market" would take care of the problem.
Four years ago, Paul Joskow of M.I.T. told FERC: 'Proceeding on the assumption that, at the present time, "the market"
will provide needed network transmission enhancements is the road to ruin.' And so it was...."
||Paul Krugman, "The Road to Ruin", NYT OpEd piece, 19Aug03, p.A21
(Emphasis added). Ed note: Competition costs money; it is a luxury.
A question is whether, in a world where we cannot have everything, competition is a luxury
we choose at the expense of not having other luxuries such as security....|
[Ed. note: See also Wall Street Journal article on:
"Our support for markets must not be based on blind faith..."
|Since the vast blackout of Aug. 14, much of the focus of elected
officials and the public has been on how to fix the country's straining matrix of power lines and plants.
But many of the industry workers...
as well as independent experts, say the human side of the system is just as overloaded and vulnerable to breakdowns.
They put much of the blame on the growth of long-distance transmissions of electricity since the
dawn of power deregulation a decade ago. Despite extensive efforts to plan transmissions and so keep things in balance,
those sales of power often send unpredicted surges of electrons through the grid.
The workers, called system operators, say they take pride in keeping the power flowing on an inadequate system.
Their reflexes resemble those of "a good combat pilot managing an aircraft that has been badly damaged,"
said Dr. S. Massoud Amin, an electrical and computer engineer at the University of Minnesota.
Still, Dr. Amin and other experts say, such skill is no longer enough to prevent further extensive shutdowns.
"The trend we're observing," he said, "is toward increasing stress and strain on the system,
and on the human operators perhaps."....
Ten years ago, it was common for almost all the electricity consumed in an area to have been produced by
local power plants or, less usually, by others within the state.
Now those old barriers are gone, and power increasingly flows hundreds of miles.
This result of deregulation has complicated an already dizzyingly interwoven system in which a
physical grid evolved from individual utilities' linking their wire networks....
Another problem, system operators say, is that many veteran operators have moved to other
jobs within utilities or retired early under programs aimed at cutting costs....
"The culture used to be 'Keep the lights on,'"...
James L. Dushaw, the utility-division director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers... said.
"There was a duty, a responsibility, a pride that existed.
That is very hard to maintain under the pressures that are here now."
||Andrew C. Revkin, "Experts Point to Strains on Electric Grid's Specialists",
NYT on the Web, 02Sep03.|
|"Millions of Americans now share
a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country,
and that some important American values are being placed at risk, and they want to set it right....
The president's mishandling of and selective use of the best evidence available
on the threat posed by Iraq is pretty much the same as the way he intentionally
distorted the best available evidence on climate change, and rejected the best
available evidence on the threat posed to America's economy by his tax and budget proposals...."
||Al Gore (George W Bush's opponent
in 2000 Presidential election), speech at New York University,
07Aug03, quoted from "Gore Criticizes Bush's Leadership on Iraq",
AP Filed at 6:10 p.m. ET, and Randal C. Archibold,
"Gore Denies Plans for '04 and Assails Bush Integrity", NYT on the Web (both 07Aug03).|
|Most Democrats feel, with justification, that we're facing a national crisis --
that the right, ruthlessly exploiting 9/11, is making a grab for total political dominance.
The party's rank and file want a candidate who is running, as the Dean slogan puts it, to take our country back.
||Paul Krugman, "Who's Nader Now?", NYT on the Web, 02Jan04.
"Who's Nader Now?" refers to how Ralph Nader
undermined Al Gore's Presidential campaign in 2000, thus leading to George W Bush's election.|
|The Supreme Court['s]...
decision-making is beginning to reflect the influence of international legal norms,
as well as rulings by courts in foreign countries....
"Human rights progress is not the same in every part of the world at the same time,"
said Harold Hongju Koh, a professor of international law at Yale... who served... in the Clinton administration.
"In the U.S., we're ahead on some issues, but behind on others, such as the death penalty, gay rights and immigrants' rights."....
This approach is not without its critics... especially... Justice Antonin Scalia.....
Scalia wrote: "We must never forget that it is a Constitution for the United States of America
that we are expounding. . . . [W]here there is not first a settled consensus among our own people,
the views of other nations, however enlightened the Justices of this Court may think them to be,
cannot be imposed upon Americans through the Constitution."....
"When the court starts taking things like that into account, it reveals itself as more interested
in making policy than interpreting the fixed texts of the Constitution or statutes,"
said John C. Yoo, a former Bush administration adviser on international law....
Koh and Yoo agree on one thing: Both said that the justices' interest in international law
has probably been influenced by meetings with fellow jurists on their frequent visits abroad.
"Today, the justices are traveling much more than they once did," Koh said.
"And when they go overseas, the question they are asked is, 'How does your jurisprudence fit in with that of other countries?'"
||Charles Lane, "Thinking Outside the U.S.",
The Washington Post, 04Aug03, p.A13.|
|Canadian Prime Minister
Jean Chrétien says he won't oppose homosexual
marriages. Mr. Chrétien says that while he is a practicing Roman
Catholic, he also believes in the separation of church and state.... Mr. Chrétien's
remarks follow a warning on Thursday by Pope John Paul II against
homosexual unions. The Catholic bishop of Calgary, Frederick Henry,
has warned the prime minister that his position on the question is
endangering his salvation.
||"OTTAWA: PM, LIKELY SUCCESSOR WON'T BLOCK SAME-SEX UNIONS",
RCI Cyberjournal, 01Aug03 (Emphasis added).|
|As consumer electronics proliferate and
consumers grow increasingly disenchanted with technical support operations...
many people are discovering that whether they want to or not, they are developing more than a
little technical proficiency....
In the last two years, many devices have become more demanding. Home CD players are
not simply turned on; they must be programmed before they can be used....
And if the future really does include Internet-ready coffee pots and refrigerators,
the situation is only going to get worse.... [F]or all the time they invest, most
self-taught technicians would rather be doing something else....
[T]he sheer number of hours spent tinkering has grown.
"There are times when I feel that I've worked the whole day and done no work,"...
Donald Norman, a professor of computer science and psychology at Northwestern University... said.
"All I have done is maintained or fixed my computer equipment."
"Techies by Necessity, Not by Choice", NYT , 24Jul03, p.G1,G6.
A manager at Xerox PARC is quoted as saying: "People are getting more proficient because they have to,
not because they want to." And a PARC report concludes:
"As computers enter the home in greater numbers, individuals find themselves becoming systems administrators."
Ed. note: For more thoughts about this problem, please see my
computer aphorisms and reminiscences
(e.g., Aphorism #1).
See also: Quote #248.
|GOOD morning and Merry Christmas.
You should all have your instruction books in hand. For this test, unlike many of the others you have taken over the years,
you do not need two sharpened No. 2 pencils. Nor is there any answer sheet. The instruction books themselves -
the ones that came with your telephones, cameras, organizers and that new digital meat grinder/MP3 player -
constitute today's test. There is no time limit... you have... until your patience runs out....
Don't be deceived by plain language. When it is clear what the words
mean, the task may still be difficult.... If you do manage to get the gadget turned on and functioning,
do not under any circumstances lose the instruction booklet. Modern gadgets, once operational, like to communicate with their users
and will frequently send messages that are incomprehensible.
You will need the message glossary in the instruction booklet to save you....
These challenges are not easy. But you must recognize that this is a remarkable age that we are privileged to live in.
No doubt centuries or millennia from now, archaeologists will be stunned to discover that ours
was a society that worshiped the FUNC and MENU buttons.
||James Gorman, "The Getting Is Over; The Confusion, Just Starting",
NYT on the Web, 25Dec03.|
|Somewhere, under the rainbow... new obligatory uses of new techno gadgets are
intruding into the lives of persons didn't ask for them, creating new ways for them to have to be
frustrated by them anyway.
(picture: NYT on the Web, 15Jan04)
~ See my proposed: Software etc. rating system.
See also: Quote #248, about how consumer electronics frustrate consumers.|
|With American corporations under increasing
pressure to cut costs... two senior I.B.M. officials
told their corporate colleagues around the world in a recorded conference call
that I.B.M. needed to accelerate its efforts to move white-collar, often high-paying,
jobs overseas even though that might create a backlash among politicians and its own employees....
"Our competitors are doing it and we have to do it," Tom Lynch,
I.B.M.'s director for global employee relations, said in the call....
"Once those jobs leave the country, they will never come back,"
said Phil Friedman, chief executive of Computer Generated Solutions,
a 1,200-employee computer software company. "If we continue losing these jobs, our
schools will stop producing the computer engineers and programmers we need for the future."....
The I.B.M. executives also warned that when workers from China come to the United States
to learn to do technology jobs now being done here, some American employees might
grow enraged about being forced to train the foreign workers who might ultimately take away their jobs....
"It's hard for me to imagine any country just sitting back and letting jobs go
offshore without raising some level of concern and investigation," Mr. Lynch said.
||Steven Greenhouse, "I.B.M. Explores Shift of
White-Collar Jobs Overseas", NYT on the Web, 22Jul03. The article further asks:
"'Increased global trade was supposed to lead to better jobs and higher standards of living,'
said Donald A. Manzullo, an Illinois Republican....
'The assumption was that while lower-skilled jobs would be done elsewhere, it would allow
Americans to focus on higher-skilled, higher-paying opportunities. But what do you tell the Ph.D.,
or professional engineer, or architect, or accountant, or computer scientist to do next?
Where do you tell them to go?'"|
Ed. note: This phenomenon now has a name: "offshoring" -- to
offshore a job is to relocate it to a country with lower production costs.
|"A great calamity has come upon us, and seemingly no
cause of our own," declared a 69-year-old architect, one of millions of Americans who wrote to President and Mrs. Roosevelt, pleading for help. "It has swept away what little savings we had accumulated and we are left in a condition that is impossible for us to correct."
"LIFE BEFORE SOCIAL SECURITY: 'A Great Calamity Has Come Upon Us'", NYT on the Web (Week in Review), 23Jan05.
Quote is presumably from 1934.
|"Instead of using
intelligence as evidence on which to base a decision about policy, we used
intelligence as the basis on which to justify a policy on which we had already
said Robin Cook, a British minister who resigned from the cabinet over the [2003 Iraq] war.
"How Powerful Can 16 Words Be?", NYT Week in Review, 20Jul03, p.WK5.|
solitude is appealing, because you feel that, if not tonight, then next
week, you'll meet somebody.
||Peter Schickele, "Schickele Mix",
NPR (WNYC FM), 20Jul03 (paraphrase from oral recall).
(See also: Quote #72. In a different direction, see vignette
from Hermann Broch's The Sleepwalkers:
"but, of course, he does not meet him".)|
|"As long as I hold this office
I will never risk the lives of American citizens by assuming the goodwill of dangerous enemies,"
Bush said at a 26-minute White House news conference with Blair.
"Our people are going to find out the truth. And the truth will say that
this intelligence was good intelligence," Bush said. "There's no doubt in my mind."
Bush said he and Blair based their decision on "good, sound intelligence."
Asked about the possibility that he would be proved wrong about the threat of Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction, Bush said defiantly, "We won't be proven wrong."
In a speech to Congress an hour earlier, however, Blair said, "history will forgive"
the two leaders if links between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction never materialize.
"If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a threat that, at its least, is responsible for
inhumane carnage and suffering," he said....
"We will bring the information forward on the weapons when they find them,"
the president said. Bush said that will "end all this speculation."....
"I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision, to put together
a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein," Bush said
"He possessed chemical weapons and biological weapons. I strongly believe
he was trying to reconstruct his nuclear weapons program. . . .
He was a threat. I take responsibility for dealing with that threat."
||Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen,
"Bush, Blair Defend Motives Behind War: Leaders Insist Evidence Justified March Invasion",
The Washington Post, 18Jul03, p.A01 (Footnote reference:
#63b, added by BMcC).|
On 29May03, George W Bush had previously declared we had
found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
|"We have not yet [as of 05Feb04] found the stockpiles of weapons that we thought were there,"
Bush said in a speech at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, in his clearest acknowledgment of problems with prewar intelligence on Iraqi weapons.
However, he said, "Knowing what I knew then and knowing what I know today, America did the right thing in Iraq."...
Bush also blasted critics of the war, saying, "If some politicians in Washington had their way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power."
(Randall Mikkelsen, "Bush: Arms 'We Thought' Were in Iraq Not Found", Reuters, 05Feb04 01:20PM ET)|
||If you've read this far, and it has brought to your
mind some quote which is significant to you, I'd appreciate if you'd share it with me: