Friday, August 31, 2007

"Wow. Your blog is like a geek version of Dinosaur Comics."
-- Rick Russell

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Over billions of years, on a unique sphere, chance has painted a thin covering of life -- complex, improbable, wonderful and fragile. Suddenly we humans (a recently arrived species no longer subject to the checks and balances inherent in nature), have grown in population, technology, and intelligence to a position of terrible power: we now wield the paintbrush."
-- Paul MacCready, 1925-2007.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Designing a fusion reactor in 1977 is a little like planning to reach heaven: theories abound on how to do it, and many people are trying, but no one alive has ever succeeded."
-- Technol. Rev., Dec 1976, p. 21, reprinted in the second edition of L. Ruedisili and M. Firebaugh, Perspectives on Energy. Quoted by Albert A. Bartlett, "Forgotten Fundamentals of the Energy Crisis," Am. J. Phys. 46(9), Sept. 1978.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Every one of the many things which, considered in isolation, it would be possible to achieve in a planned society creates enthusiasts for planning who feel confident that they will be able to instill into the directors of such a society their sense of the value of the particular objective... In our predilections and interests we are all in some measure specialists. And we all think that our personal order of values is not merely personal but that in a free discussion among rational people we would convince the others that ours is the right one. The lover of the countryside who wants above all that its traditional appearance should be preserved and that the blots already made by industry on its fair face should be removed, no less than the health enthusiast who wants all the picturesque but unsanitary old cottages cleared away, or the motorist who wishes the country cut up by big motor roads, the efficiency fanatic who desires the maximum of specialization and mechanization no less than the idealist who for the development of personality wants to preserve as many independent craftsmen as possible, all know that their aim can be fully achieved only by planning--and they all want planning for that reason. But, of course, the adoption of the social planning for which they clamor can only bring out the concealed conflict between their aims."
-- F.A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom

Sunday, August 26, 2007

"In defense of its $4,159,000 asking price, it is pretty nice."
-- Maribeth on 790 Ranch Lane, Pacific Palisades.

[Certainly this cannot be said of all $4 million homes in Pacific Palisades.]

Saturday, August 25, 2007

KILLROY: Very well. Since you have aided me this day, no harm will come to you. But know this, and know it well... When next we meet, beverage merchant, it shall be as enemies.
-- Killroy and Tina by Justin Pierce

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Why does David Lowe rock so hard?"
-- Vikash K. Mansinghka lists open research questions in Simultaneous Localization and Mapping using the Scale-Invariant Feature Transform

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I didn't like for my students to have copies of anything, because I wanted people to learn how to listen as much as I wanted them to learn how to write."
-- Grace Paley, quoted on As It Happens, 8/23/07

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"Predictably, the notion of Los Angeles as a sun-drenched land of plenty produces a hostile counterreaction, especially from East Coast eggheads who are about as much fun as a Cheney family reunion. Only someone lost in highfalutin miserabilism could look at millions of Angelenos going about their daily lives and find, as did critic Edmund Wilson in 1941, 'the strange spell of unreality which seems to make human experience... as hollow as the life of a troll-nest.' Wilson wanted the city to be more real, meaning more like Europe, many of whose most brilliant emigres were busy fleeing for their lives to Los Angeles."
-- John Powers, Los Angeles Magazine, July 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"I use throughout the team 'liberal' in the original, nineteenth-century sense in which it is still current in Britain. In current American usage it often means very nearly the opposite of this. It has been part of the camouflage of leftish movements in this country, helped by the muddleheadedness of many who really believe in liberty, that 'liberal' has come to mean the advocacy of almost every kind of government control. I am still puzzled why those in the United States who truly believe in liberty should not only have allowed the left to appropriate this almost indispensable term but should even have assisted by beginning to use it themselves as a term of opprobrium. This seems to be particularly regrettable because of the consequent tendency of many true liberals to describe themselves as conservatives.

"It is true, of course, that in the struggle against the believers in the all-powerful state the true liberal must sometimes make common cause with the conservative, and in some circumstances, as in contemporary Britain, he has hardly any other way of actively working for his ideals. But true liberalism is still distinct from conservatism, and there is danger in the two being confused."
-- F.A. Hayek, Foreword to the 1956 American paperback edition of The Road to Serfdom

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Firefighting is about ten percent of what a fire department deals with these days. Seventy percent of our emergency responses are, in fact, calls for medical aid, including trauma on the street and illness at home."
-- San Marino Fire Department web page

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"The downside to being not-Newt-Gingrich is that Newt Gingrich is brilliant, articulate, and well-read; and Rove is not responsible for the President not being like Newt Gingrich in those three regards."
-- Tony Blankley, Left, Right & Center, 8/17/07

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"She carried water that day. She'd expected to be balancing buckets over her shoulders like in the schoolbooks, but they fitted her with a bubble-suit that distributed the weight over her whole body and then filled it up with a hose until she weighed nearly twice what she normally did. Other kids were in the stairwells wearing identical bubble-suits, sloshing up the steps to old peoples' flats that smelled funny. The old women and men that Valentine saw that day pinched her cheeks and then emptied out her bubble-suit into their cisterns."
-- Cory Doctorow, After the Siege

Friday, August 17, 2007

"In the West, you have television. In Afghanistan, we have genealogy."
-- Khaled Hosseini.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Intellectual activity is incompatible with any large amount of bodily exercise."
-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

'The former George AFB (now known as the Southern California Logistics Airport) in Victorville, CA, has seen repeated use as a training and experimentation site by the USMC since the late 1990s. [...]

'Two major advantages of a George AFB-type BRAC'd facility are its size and its dilapidated condition. LTC James Cashwell, the 1-14 Cavalry squadron commander, put it best when he stated, "The advantage of George AFB is it is ugly, torn up, all the windows are broken and trees have fallen down in the street. It's perfect for the replication of a war-torn city. You can . . . then enter this complex old city--a wide variation of structures and multiple blocks, where at most MOUT facilities there are only a couple of blocks with maybe 20 buildings."'

-- Russell W. Glenn, et al., Preparing for the Proven Inevitable: An Urban Operations Training Strategy for America's Joint Force

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"A planetoid entered our atmosphere in 2226, at about same speed as that of the Earth, 46 miles dia. Struck the Earth 126 miles south of the mouth of the Orinoco, and produced an indentation in the crust of the Earth which destroyed nearly every principal building in Carracas, Havana, and other cities of the West Indies and a gigantic tidal wave which produced enormous destruction. The undulation was felt over the whole Earth; the heat of impact was sufficient to fuse the Mass to the Earth and it broke in many places. It took 11 years to cool sufficient to be examined. Its altitude above the sea is 22 miles and gigantic streams pour down its [???] due to condensation of snow. Lathrop you can work this up about finding gold etc. if it will work in."
-- scenario for a science fiction novel by Thomas Alva Edison

Monday, August 13, 2007

One day the teacher says to John Henry,
"No more writing by hand,
I got a laptop computer with a big hard drive,
It can download data like a man, Lord, Lord,
It can download data like a man."

John Henry told his teacher,
"I'll challenge your laptop to a test.
I'll take the paper and my good old No. 2
And we'll see who writes it best, Lord, Lord,
We'll see who writes it best."

-- Garrison Keillor

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"I think Richard looks most like that guy in The Shining. Richard smiling looks like that guy in The Shining."
-- Paul Brewer

Saturday, August 11, 2007

TOM TOWNSEND: I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelist's ideas as well as the critic's thinking. With fiction I can never forget that none of it really happened, that it's all just made up by the author.

--Metropolitan by Whit Stillman

Friday, August 10, 2007

"I'd like to point out that I was risk-averse before it became trendy."
-- Maribeth

Thursday, August 9, 2007

"You always save your best material for off-camera."
-- Jeff Fine

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

-- license plate on a Toyota Prius

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"If this person [Christopher "Rizler" Smith] really made as much money as has been claimed, and did it entirely through spamming, given that only about one in ten million spams causes someone to send money, he must have sent somewhere around a trillion (!) spams. If each one caused someone to lose just one second of productive life, he's only one order of magnitude short of 9/11 or Katrina, and only two orders of magnitudes short of the Blitz."
-- Keith F. Lynch

[Christopher "Rizler" Smith was sentenced to thirty years in prison for illegally operating an online pharmacy. The FBI claims that he made approximately $18 million during his last year of marketing drugs via spam. The Register says that Smith "allegedly sent more than one billion emails through America Online" rather than Lynch's estimate of one trillion.]

Monday, August 6, 2007

"I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me. I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings. I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through all eternity."
-- St. Brigid

Sunday, August 5, 2007

MRS DUBEDAT. And I was useful to him as a model: his drawings of me sold quite quickly.

RIDGEON. Have you got one?

MRS DUBEDAT [producing another] Only this one. It was the first.

RIDGEON [devouring it with his eyes] That's a wonderful drawing. Why is it called Jennifer?

MRS DUBEDAT. My name is Jennifer.

RIDGEON. A strange name.

MRS DUBEDAT. Not in Cornwall. I am Cornish. It's only what you call Guinevere.

-- The Doctor's Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, August 4, 2007

"Let's say goodbye to hedges
And roads with grassy edges
And winding country lanes;
Let all things travel faster
Where motor car is master
Till only Speed remains."
-- John Betjeman, Inexpensive Progress

Friday, August 3, 2007

"It used to be the only two things I didn't like about KPCC were Prairie Home Companion and the really boring guy who does Writer's Almanac. Then I found out they were the same person! I think it took about a year to realize that."
-- Dima Kogan

Thursday, August 2, 2007

"Wherever you find banana or plantain trees, you can get water. Cut down the tree, leaving about a 30-centimeter stump, and scoop out the center of the stump so that the hollow is bowl-shaped. Water from the roots will immediately start to fill the hollow. The first three fillings of water will be bitter, but succeeding fillings will be palatable. The stump will supply water for up to four days. Be sure to cover it to keep out insects."
-- U.S. Army Field Manual 21-76, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Which would be worth more, do you think: a painting by Buschi [an artistic orangutan at Osnabruck Zoo], or Buschi cut in half and pickled in formaldehyde by Damien Hirst?"
-- man on BBC World Service