Categories: Word of the day
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Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
|Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing since 1954.
An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.
I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it.
Rice is great when you're hungry and want 2,000 of something.
A burrito is a sleeping bag for ground beef.
A rotisserie is a morbid Ferris Wheel for chickens.
I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long.
I love my Fed-Ex guy 'cause he's a drug dealer and he doesn't even know it. And he's always on time.
I saw this wino, he was eating grapes. I was like, ”Dude, you have to wait.“
I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to, too.
I was walking down the street with my friend and he said, “I hear music,” as if there is any other way you can take it in. You're not special, that's how I receive it too. I tried to taste it but it did not work.
I went to a record store, they said they specialized in hard-to-find records. Nothing was alphabetized.
I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later.
Is a hippopotamus a hippopotamus or just a really cool opotamus?
My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.
My friend asked me if I wanted a frozen banana, I said “No, but I want a regular banana later, so... yeah.”
One time, this guy handed me a picture of him, he said, “Here's a picture of me when I was younger.” Every picture is of you when you were younger.
The depressing thing about tennis is that no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as the wall.
This shirt is “dry-clean only”... which means it's dirty.
When I was a boy, I laid in my twin-sized bed and wondered where my brother was.
The chief executive officer of Highmark Inc. has been charged with simple assault and
defiant trespass stemming from what police in Oakmont described as a fight this weekend
between him and the husband of a Highmark employee with whom he was having an affair.
-Sadie Gurman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Don't say "affair." Say "going out of network."
The fear of not being able to buy guns during a second Obama term leads to Americans buying so many guns that now they can't buy any guns, just like they feared.
(Colbert Report video.)
Americans believe that freedom was their invention. They have been known to send Peace Corps troops to Athens to teach the Greeks the meaning of democracy.
An optimist is one who knows exactly how sad the world can be, while a pessimist is one who finds out anew every morning.
Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.
Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.
Corruption is nature's way of restoring our faith in democracy.
Courage is often lack of insight, whereas cowardice in many cases is based on good information.
Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find.
Her virtue was that she said what she thought, her vice that what she thought didn't amount to much.
I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other.
I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first.
I have three daughters and I find as a result I played King Lear almost without rehearsal.
I was irrevocably betrothed to laughter, the sound of which has always seemed to me the most civilised music in the world.
I'm convinced there's a small room in the attic of the Foreign Office where future diplomats are taught to stammer.
If history teaches us one thing, it is that history teaches us nothing.
If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done.
In America, through pressure of conformity, there is freedom of choice, but nothing to choose from.
In the case of the American presidency it is the machine which drives the driver, and the driver is only required to make reassuring gestures of being in charge of the machine.
Intelligent or not, we all make mistakes, and perhaps the intelligent mistakes are the worst, because so much careful thought has gone into them.
It is of course, reprehensible to steal from others, but plain stupid to steal from yourself.
It is our doubts that unite us and our certainties that divide us.
It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.
Once we are destined to live out our lives in the prison of our mind, our one duty is to furnish it well.
Parents are the bones upon which children sharpen their teeth.
Politicians only get to the top because they have no qualifications to detain them at the bottom.
Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.
The French and the British are such good enemies that they can't resist being friends.
The only reason I made a commercial for American Express was to pay for my American Express bill.
The point of living, and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe that the best is yet to come.
Toronto is New York run by the Swiss.
Uncontrolled photography is one of the blights of our time.
Unfortunately, a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares.
It takes something out of the ordinary to turn a crabby 57-year-old into a blubbering idiot. This did it.
(YouTube video: Fiona's amazing story.)
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me...
Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
(Originally published in print form on June 14, 2000)
Oh My God! They Killed Library!! Those Bastards!!!
"The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem." -Milton Friedman
Library, Pennsylvania died earlier this month. It was almost 160 years old.
It was replaced by South Park, Pennsylvania, named after the county facility located within its borders and not the notorious Comedy Central animated cable television series bearing the same moniker. (Those familiar with the show recognize the above paraphrase of the cartoon's running gag, the repeated weekly demise of Kenny by various unpleasant means.)
Why would any sane group of people vote to rename its local post office after a century and a half?
The answer, of course, is money. A complete explanation requires a bit of background, so please bear with me...
There is no town named Library. It's the name of the post office that happens to serve what is now South Park Township.
It opened in 1842. Local legend has it the area around the post office was popularly known as "Loafers Hollow". Pennsylvania is well known for its odd post office names (Blue Ball and Intercourse immediately come to mind), but fortunately, the powers that were exercised some restraint and called the new facility...
Library, due to its proximity to the local library. This is particularly significant, since it's the only part of this story that makes any sense.
Anyway, people started calling the village near the post office Library. Three years later, in 1845, when the local leaders decided to form an actual governmental entity, they of course named it...
Snowden Township, after John M. Snowden, a prominent Pittsburgh businessman and politician who died earlier that year.
Actually, it worked out okay, since people knew that Library was at the south end of Snowden, and Broughton (formerly Curry) was at the north end, and nobody really ever called Snowden, Snowden.
Not much happened for about 80 years until the Allegheny County commissioners decided to buy up a bunch of farm land at the north and south ends of the county to preserve the region's original rustic charm. It acquired almost half of Snowden Township and called the recreational facility...
South Park, which sorta made sense, since the other park on the northern end of the county was called North Park.
Things remained pretty quiet until 1960. That's when the neighbors started causing trouble, specifically Bethel. (Bethel broke off from Snowden in 1886. Originally formed as a township, Bethel reorganized as a borough in 1949 and then became a home rule charter community in 1978. Obviously a bunch of malcontents.) The nastiest thing they ever did was change their name to...
Bethel Park, in an effort to cash in on the rural allure of its proximity to South Park. Which, as you recall, is actually in Snowden Township, which everybody called Library.
Around this time, the federal and state governments started using zip codes as the primary method of determining where they should send their payments to local municipalities. This caused quite a problem, since Snowden didn't have a zip code of its own. Some of its mail was delivered by the Finleyville post office, some by Pleasant Hills (Pittsburgh 15236). The bulk of its residents was serviced by the good ol' Library post office. Indeed, when people thought of South Park, they thought of the county park, not Snowden. Those portions of Snowden that weren't in the Park were commonly referred to as Broughton, Piney Forks and Library, and Library was the only part of Snowden that had a real business district. So, in the late 60s, Snowden Township changed its name to...
South Park Township, which didn't really have much effect, aside from changing some municipal signage and stationery. The post office kept the name Library, and everyone seemed to be happy...
Until this year, when the post office announced it was going to move from its current location in a rented building across from the Rite Aid to a brand new facility that would be built next to Bavarian Village, down the road from the township municipal building in the area roughly between Broughton and Piney Forks.
Perhaps emboldened by the fact the post office was, technically, no longer in the area of the township known as Library, the township supervisors decided to petition the United States Postal Service to a) change the name of the post office from Library to South Park, and b) have the few residents who had their mail delivered by the Pleasant Hills and Finleyville post offices included in the new South Park post office's delivery area. Finally, everyone who lived in South Park Township would have their mail delivered by the South Park post office, and the morons in the state and federal governments would no longer send money belonging to South Park to Pleasant Hills and Finleyville.
This grand unification plan had only one flaw; it required the consent of the postal patrons, including the lunatic fringes in Pleasant Hills and Finleyville. A ballot was prepared and mailed. The South Park residents who had their mail delivered by Pleasant Hills decided to keep their Pleasant Hills addresses. The South Park residents who had their mail delivered by Finleyville decided to keep their Finleyville addresses.
Only about half of the people serviced by the Library post office responded to the ballot, but a majority of those who did voted to change the name of the post office to South Park, believing that, as in the past, not much would happen.
Despite reassurances in the letter accompanying the name change ballot, the USPS said Library postal patrons have to send change of address notices to everyone, including Social Security and PennDot. The letter also said the post office would continue to "forward" mail addressed to Library to South Park for a year, which shouldn't be too hard since we haven't moved anywhere.
And since the South Park residents with Pleasant Hills and Finleyville addresses voted against the change, they won't have South Park addresses and the township will still, theoretically, lose state and federal funding due to supposed zip code misdirection.
Library, PA was the only post office with that name in the United States. It was unique, easy to remember, and had been around for more than a century and a half. It was abandoned for no good reason.
Residents of Anaheim, California didn't rename their town Disneyland after the major recreational facility within its borders. No community in the northern half of Allegheny County has expressed any interest in changing its name to North Park. The local newspaper boasts that pop singing sensation Christina Aguilera hails from the northern Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford. Guess what? Like Library, Wexford doesn't really exist. It's just a post office serving Pine Township and a number of other communities that don't suffer from South Park's insecurity and identity issues.
But unlike Wexford, Library is now history.
Well, not really.
Thanks to its reliance on technology and the zip code system, the postal service really doesn't look at the city and state addresses on mail anymore. Everything is driven by zip code. Off the record, an unnamed source at the main post office in Pittsburgh admitted to me that since Library/South Park's zip code isn't changing, mail marked for Library, PA 15129 will continue to be delivered indefinitely.
He's not kidding. As a test, I sent myself a letter to my street address, but in Loafers Hollow, PA 15129. It arrived the next day.
Sometimes shortcomings in technology have a definite upside.
The relatively uneventful arrival of the year 2000 created a void in KGB Report: specifically, the retirement of our "Y2K-A-Rama", the weekly litany of impending computer and technology-related disasters. Grieve no more. We proudly present Paranoia Weekly, a compendium of dire events hanging over our heads. As usual, some of the concerns listed here are valid while others are of dubious certainty. We provide them as a reminder that technology isn't necessarily our friend.
<KGB Windows 2000 Advisor:
Ok if pre-installed on new laptops. Otherwise, not yet.
Answer to our previous question: The X-Files was the television series in which John Fitzgerald Byers (Bruce Harwood), one of the three hackers better known as The Lone Gunmen, accesses a secure Department of Defense site running version 5.2 of VMS. "I know a couple of login tricks," Byers modestly boasted as he hacked his way in. Interestingly enough, there actually were some security quirks in VMS 5.2, but it's unlikely they affected any DOD systems. Military installations usually didn't run plain vanilla versions of VMS.
The episode featuring the VMS hack, "Unusual Suspects", is one of the series' best. The show's fifth season premiere, it aired on November 16, 1997, revealed the origin and motivations of the trio and explained how they became associated with Agent Mulder. Hopefully Fox will rerun the episode before it airs next season's The Lone Gunmen, a spin-off series based on their X-Files characters.
More trivia: Before DEC began sticking dashes and letters on the releases, VMS was said to suffer from the " Inverse Star Trek Curse".
Most VMS system managers skipped installing the even numbered releases of the operating system, which had a reputation of being somewhat buggy.
On the other hand, even numbered Star Trek films are generally considered to be superior to the odd numbered releases. Star Trek III (1984, directed by Leonard Nimoy) is sometimes cited as the exception to the rule, but even fans admit the film's somber tone and obscure references to the series' canon made it less accessible to non-Trekkers. Most folks went to see Ghostbusters that summer. Still, Nimoy completely vindicated himself with 1986's Star Trek IV, usually referred to with the Friends-like title "The One About The Whales". IV garnered universally glowing reviews and remains the highest-grossing film in the series ($110 million).
This issue's question: The "Unusual Suspects" episode of The X-Files featured a guest appearance by Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch of NBC's now-defunct Homicide series. Belzer's Munch now appears regularly on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. The actor/comedian had a recurring role as a different police office on another series that aired in the 90s. Name that series, and no fair using the Internet Movie Database. First correct answer wins a KGB Y2K compliant pop-up calendar, sure to be a collector's item. (There won't be any KGB calendars in 2001.)
KGB in the UK. The nice folks at Datalogics (http://www.datalogics.com) are sending me to Swindon, England for three weeks to teach some classes in DL Pager, their tactical nuclear automated composition system. I'll be across the pond from June 18 through July 8. I know there are a number of KGB Report readers in the UK, but my grasp of English geography leaves a bit to be desired. I'm completely booked during the week, but so far the weekends look free. If you're in the neighborhood, so to speak, drop me a line and let's see if we can arrange a meeting. (It'll also let me see if I acquired the right power plugs and phone jacks for my laptop.)
KGB on the Radio. You can listen to me regale listeners with my stirring "Network Solutions Made Me A Child Pornographer" tale online via RealAudio at www.techtalkradio.com. I was recently a guest on TechTalk With Mike and Andy, a weekly radio show which airs on KNWZ-AM near Palm Springs, California. The show's also syndicated and available on the web. Once you hear how I perform on the radio, you'll understand why I think my best move is to stick with writing.
Power Problems. I was somewhat concerned the electrical power reliability piece that appeared in the last newsletter might have been a bit too pessimistic. No more. In one 24-hour period last week we experienced five outages of two to three seconds in duration. The weather was fine, the temperature was in the 60s, there was no wind and since it was the weekend, utility crews weren't out cutting trees back from the lines. Those annual pruning efforts are the primary cause of most of our interruptions, followed by bad weather and auto accidents. Another lesson learned: underground utility lines are of relatively little value when they all terminate on a decades-old wooden pole that's located at a blind intersection at the highest point of the local terrain. Might as well paint a bull's eye on it.
Useless Web Site of the Week:
If you want to kill an afternoon, check out http://www.epguides.com, which has episode guides for over 1,500 television series from The A-Team to Zorro and Son. Most entries just contain basic information and a list of episode names and airdates. Over 350 series receive special treatment, with full plot summaries and detailed cast lists. The site can be somewhat frustrating, though. You can't get detailed data on M*A*S*H, but, by God, Homeboys In Outer Space is catalogued in excruciating detail.
The new Disney animated film Dinosaur is being criticized by some as scientifically inaccurate. Lemurs, the primitive primates who play a major role in the picture, didn't appear on the planet until 15 million years after the mass extinction of the big lizards. You'd have thought these keen-eyed observers would have picked up on another significant gaffe: it's highly unlikely the lemurs and dinos spoke English.
Why is the amount of time required for an out-of-town check to clear the bank inversely proportional to the size of the financial institution in which it's deposited? My now former bank has scores of branches, ATMs in every convenience store in the county, phone and web banking... and wouldn't let me touch the proceeds of foreign deposits for five business days.
Actually, my experience was worse than that. I made the mistake of depositing an out-of-town check the Friday before a Monday holiday. Federal regulations require the bank to fork over the cash "not later than the fifth business day following the banking day on which funds are deposited." Okay, the check goes in on Friday. The next business day isn't until the following Tuesday. Day two is Wednesday, day three is Thursday, day four is Friday, and the fifth business day doesn't arrive until the following Monday. That's 12 calendar days- nearly two weeks- before I can access the full amount of the check.
I can understand a bank's reluctance to part with its cash if the account owner's name is Beauregard Gatorfoot, the financial institution is Big Mama's Bank and Gumbo Emporium of Bayou Le Crawfish, Louisiana and the nearest Federal Reserve branch is two days away by mule. But a check from a Fortune 50 company? Drawn on the nation's second largest bank? With systems that can debit my account in microseconds from any location on the planet?
Fortunately, the Fed's guidelines are maximums. Banks have the discretion to clear checks faster if they wish, and the relatively tiny outfit where I now do my business makes the full amount of the deposit available to me the next morning.
And some of the tellers have lollipops.
Quotations of the Week:
Categories: From the archives
This is From the archives, #1.
I'm reposting some of the more ancient KGB Report entries using our current blogging software. This eliminates many of the bad link and missing image problems, makes the material easier to read and also easier to find.
Note that these items are over a decade old. They've been edited only to remove dead links. Updated information and observations appear as comments.
(Originally published January 13, 2000)
How Network Solutions, Inc.
Made Me A Child Pornographer
I Don't Even Have a Pornograph!"
I was going through my daily US Postal Service dump of delinquent credit card statements and IRS notices (where's the Y2K bug when you really need it?) when I came across an odd-looking envelope with a München, (Munich) Germany return address.
I immediately assumed it was from a fan of my old DCL Dialogue column, which ran for a number of years in the now-defunct DEC Professional magazine.
Although I stopped writing for the publication five years ago, DEC Pro was one of those rare trade journals that contained solid, unbiased technical information. For that reason, it was rarely thrown away. System managers frequently stashed their collection in some secret place in their offices and rarely allowed their copies to be borrowed by others.
To this day, clueless new hires placed in charge of VMS computer systems frequently discover their predecessors' DEC Pro cache, read the mags cover to cover and send me requests for the various items I offered in my column.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope and read the following:
Dear sir or madame,
you have on your webpage www.lo-li-ta.org nice pictures, so I want to ask if I can buy pictures and videos on CD or tape from you? Please send me a list with prices. If I can't get them from you, please tell me another enterprice where I can get them from.
Nice pictures? www.lo-li-ta.org??
A quick trip to the address revealed a members-only porn site featuring nude photographs of young women.
Very young women.
Very, very young women.
25-to-life at a federal institution young women.
Surely this was a mistake. I checked the domain registration records for lo-li-ta.org and was stunned to find:
WHOIS information for lo-li-ta.org
Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
Organization: KGB Consulting, Inc.
address: 1512 Annette Avenue
Pennsylvania, PA 15129 US
Admin contact: Barkes, Kevin
phone: 412 8542550
fax: 412 8542550
tech contact: Hostmaster
I did what any other liberal Democratic male 45-year-old self-employed American businessman with a windowless basement office loaded with a dozen networked computers and a dedicated T1 connection to the Internet during a U.S. presidential election campaign year lousy with right wing ultra-conservative candidates would do.
First, I changed my pants.
I also purged the temporary browser caches and history lists off all my computers, stuck a Post-It note with the number of the local chapter of the ACLU on my system's display and scrawled my attorney's telephone number in indelible laundry marker on appropriate body parts. Then I sat down and tried to review the situation rationally.
Obviously, the domain registration was bogus. The address was listed as "Pennsylvania, PA 15129" instead of Library, PA. Indeed, that was the address printed on my German friend's envelope. The letter somehow managed to make its way across the Atlantic and into my mailbox.
The email address listed had the MAIL.RU domain, which is located in Russia.
Ah... it was beginning to make sense.
I registered the kgb.com domain name in 1993, before the explosive growth of the Internet and the invention of the World Wide Web. It's an easy to remember name. In addition to being my initials, KGB was, of course, the moniker of the dreaded Soviet secret police.
Even though the real KGB was disbanded in 1991, everyone still remembers the name, and my use of it generally elicits chuckles from baby boomers raised on cold war spy movies.
Having such a popular domain name does have its downside. Daily reviews of my mail server's log files show scores of rejected e-missives to such addresses as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org... you get the picture.
About a third of the people who visit the website are looking for information about the KGB. We added a page with links to historical information about the agency, as well as a link to the makers of KGB Vodka. (They had contacted me a few years ago about buying the kgb.com domain name from me. I declined to sell, but they were very nice about it. You can find them on Facebook these days).
(Yeah. We were mistaken for them. A lot.)
The person who set up lo-li-ta.org was probably based in Russia, needed someone's name to stick in the application as domain administrator, and decided it would be funny to connect the KGB to kiddie porn.
Unfortunately for me, when you enter "KGB" into a search engine, my site comes up second after something called "KGB's World of Harness Racing" at http://www.kgb.se. The ".se" indicates the host is located in Sweden, which, if you think about it, is probably a more appropriate place to register a porn site. But I digress.
The problem is you can't easily register the country-specific .se domain name. My Russian buddy knew that, moved on to the next site on the list- kgb.com- and found what he was looking for. He accessed the online registration information for kgb.com and was ready to go.
The host site he picked, easyspace.com, is located in the United Kingdom. Like most hosting services, Easyspace offers automated domain name registration and web site configuration.
Neither Easyspace nor their domain name registrar, Network Solutions, Inc., checks to see if the information entered into the online form is really accurate. As long as the supplied email address is valid and responds to automated inquiries, and the credit card number entered to pay for the services clears the bank, the whole magillah goes through automatically.
Okay, I figured out what happened. Now I had to do something about it.
First, I sent a nasty note to email@example.com, the email contact listed by Network Solutions as the administrator for the lo-li-ta.org site.
Surprisingly, I did get a response:
Subject: Re: Legal action will be initiated.
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 23:28:15 +0300
What's up with www.lo-li-ta.org ????
Well, that was productive.
An examination of the mail header attached to the message revealed his reply came from a different email account than the one to which I had sent my original message. I also learned it was routed through a dialup service called wm.westcall.ru.
The dumb act was not amusing. I sent another email, and received:
Subject: Re: Legal action will be initiated.
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 00:00:14 +0300
Hey, It's not mine!!! I am from Belorussia, but not ameriCan!!! ;-)) I think some one from you friend jest you, but why my e-mail there?? He-he-he!
And watch out for moose and squirrel.
Notice the clever change in the sender's name from Pchelkin_Vladimir to "Speedy Racer". Obviously, a wild and crazy guy.
I realized Ol' Vlad wasn't going to be much help, so I sent a nasty email to the hosting service, Easyspace. I didn't receive a response to my message, but within an hour the plug was pulled on www.lo-li-ta.org.
I also sent an email to Network Solutions. Well, sort of. There is no direct email address posted anywhere on the site, so I filled out a web-based "customer feedback" form requesting immediate action.
I got an automated response informing me my message was received. I still haven't heard from them, and the domain information for lo-li-ta.org remains accessible and continues to list me as the administrative contact.
Still not comfortable, I called the Pittsburgh office of the FBI and related my tale to a very nice lady who told me that no real crime had been committed, so the Bureau really couldn't do anything.
She suggested I call the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute here in Pittsburgh. CERT, primarily funded by the Department of Defense, provides technical assistance for responding to computer security problems. I knew I didn't have a security problem per se, but I'm not one to ignore recommendations from a division of the United States Department of Justice. (Would you want to tick off U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno?)
The CERT fellow agreed with me that my problem wasn't security-related. He also agreed that I was doing the right thing by pre-emptively notifying the feds, who have a well-publicized zero-tolerance policy concerning child pornography and a well-documented history of seizing computer equipment first and asking questions later. Usually after the press conference.
To be really safe, I decided to document my experience here inKGB Report and distribute it as widely as possible.
Of course, my dilemma still exists. Network Solutions still lists me as the administrator of a kiddie porn site.
Even more disturbing, I have no way of knowing if my name has been attached to other sites featuring objectionable material. Indeed, the only reason I learned of the present situation was because a pervert in Germany was so anxious to obtain kiddie porn that he mailed a letter to a complete stranger 5,000 miles away.
Even scarier: there's no way for me to search through the millions of registered Internet domain names to see if anyone else is misusing my identity. And I fear that since my name has been used once, it will probably be used again. My nightmare: I get raided by the feds and hauled off to the pokey for having my name attached to an illegal or immoral Internet-based business about which I know nothing.
I suppose I could raise public awareness of the issue and my predicament by registering "Strom's-South-Carolina-Sweeties.com" to Senator Strom Thurmond and supplying the Network Solutions domain name information to the liberal east coast media cabal, but anyone with a valid credit card and email address can do that. I prefer the direct approach.
My experience is probably not unique. It highlights three serious problems with e-commerce: verification of automated transaction systems; the need for a uniform, secure electronic signature or identification technology; and the lack of recourse available to humans screwed over by Internet businesses which fail to provide voice telephone numbers or postal addresses. It's rather pathetic when I get a prompt response from the miscreant responsible for my situation, but silence from the companies who actually executed the transgression.
I'll keep you posted.
[NOTE: Future "From the archives" posts will contain the follow-ups to this story]
Told you so... In last week's issue, we said:
"Fear mongers who were exploiting Y2K paranoia, here's a hint: redirect your marketing efforts to capitalize on the remaining media-hyped potential catastrophe, global warming."
Apparently dismayed that there are only half as many near-earth killer asteroids as originally thought, the Wednesday, January 12 edition of the CBS Evening News With Dan Rather ignored that upbeat news completely. Instead, here's Dan's lead story summary from the CBS News website:
"Our lead story this evening focuses on the mounting concern over global warming and the growing scientific consensus that it is real... we'll take a look at today's National Research Council report on the subject and we'll also have a report on how the increase of jellyfish in American waters, especially on the Gulf Coast, could be a harbinger of climate."
Coming this summer: When Jellyfish Attack. Just in case those doofuses at the National Hurricane Center screw up again and disappoint us by not destroying Miami.
Stan's still the man... After 17 years, Miller Freeman, Inc. has pulled the plug on Performance Computing, meaning Stan Kelly-Bootle's marvelous monthly Devil's Advocate column has lost its print-based home.
Fortunately, the good folks at Aurora Software have provided an online venue for DA's successor, SODA (Son of Devil's Advocate.)
Please support Stan's new effort by reading his always witty prose at http://www.sarcheck.com/skb/.
[Note: Stan is 83 now. Our last e-mail correspondence was slightly less than two years ago. I'll let you know if he responds to a recent ping.]
Answer to our previous question: In an attempt to cash in on the success of ABC's Batman, in 1967 NBC aired Captain Nice, starring William Daniels, and CBS broadcast Mr. Terrific, starring Stephen Strimpell. Both shows tanked.
This week's question: The cable network TVLand is now airing the cult 80s shows Misfits of Science and Airwolf back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 8 eastern time. One of the stars of Misfits, Courteney Cox, went on to become a star playing Monica Geller on Friends. Jan-Michael Vincent, who was pilot Stringfellow Hawke on Airwolf, also appeared in an episode of NBC's late 60s revival of a hit 50s show. Name the show and the title of the episode. Hint: it's also currently airing on TVLand. Use your lifelines and email your final answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Note: In 12 years, the Internet has made questions like those above minor search exercises. Sigh.]
UselessWeb Site of the Week
http://www.pencils.com contains more than you could ever want to know about the ubiquitous writing utensil, such as:
· 75% of the pencils sold annually in the US are painted yellow.
· William Monroe, a cabinetmaker in Concord, Massachusetts, made the first American wood pencils in 1812.
· Most pencils sold in Europe have no erasers
Quotes of the Week
Douglas Dahlberg (IT manager) "You live in a democracy. You don't work in one."
Fadel Gheit, oil industry analyst, Fahnestock & Co.: "The Y2K bug was a bunch of computer geeks blackmailing the world."
Bill Maher: "We spent all this money for nothing. It's like a world-wide Ken Starr investigation."
Ed Howe: "A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice."
Carl Bernstein: "[T]he weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal."
New Yorker cartoon caption:
(via Condé Nast)
James Thurber: "You can fool too many of the people too much of the time."
Categories: From the archives
We're back on the air in less than a day which, quite frankly, is far better than I expected.
I won't bore you with the technical details. On the surface, very little has changed. But under the hood, some judicious modifications have cut blog-related disk and cpu usage by more than 70 percent. As a software geek, I am well pleased with myself.
Two things you may notice. There's been a major reduction in the number of Categories, and the archives are now compiled as monthly instead of weekly links.
The categories that remain (see the right hand column) are the ones that visitors to the site actually use. To be honest, I went crazy there for a while, trying to create a category tag for every subject or person referenced in every blog post. When the sheer volume of links reached the point that the blogging software was taking nearly two hours to update all the files on the site, I decided it was time to do some editing.
A few dozen lines of SPITBOL code, several hundred megabytes of log files, and about an hour of processing produced an extremely detailed analysis of what people view when they visit. Some categories had never been accessed- not even once. Others received hundreds of hits a week.
More surprising- people looking for stuff in the archives here were far more likely to use the Google site search facility (see the "search kgbreport.com" box at the upper right) than wander through scores of weekly archive links.
The changes cause the front page to load a bit faster and the right hand column is no longer several feet long. On my end, I no longer have to wait anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours for a new post to appear on the site.
Over the next few months I plan to slowly but systematically deal with the ancient stuff written prior to October 2002, when I switched over to real blogging software. KGB Report was actually printed and mailed to subscribers back then, and the port from print publishing format to web code was less than optimal.
I'm going to post those newsletters in a new category called "From the archives." They'll show up as new posts here. The historical perspective ahould be interesting and amusing (I hope), and posting that old stuff as current entries will get them back onto the main portion of the site in a form that's far more attractive and accessible.
Finally, I want to thank those of you who stop by regularly. We've grown from about 2,000 to 3,000 page views a day in the last year, and more than half of you spend more than two minutes looking around.
While you're perusing the site, take a look at the commentwear by KGB stuff in the right column. You can buy t-shirts, mugs, and other essentials emblazoned with pithy quotes and observations. I made over $40(!) in profit from there last year, which more than covers the insurance co-pay for the twice-annual bolt tightenings from my shrink.
Writing may not be entirely therapeutic but at least it pays for the therapy.
So. What did you accomplish this weekend?
...and hopefully not permanent damage.
I have to do some heavy-duty maintnenance to kgbreport.com over the next 12-24 hours. During that time, some links may not work, some pictures may fail to load, the gravitational constant of the universe may be altered, and someone may find me wandering, confused, in the woods behind my home.
See you Monday, maybe earlier if things go well...
While his greatest fame came from his teaming with Bill Cosby in I Spy, those of us around in the 80s remember Robert Culp (August 16, 1930 - March 24, 2010) as over-the-top FBI agent Bill Maxwell in The Greatest American Hero. A Reagan conservative who snacked on dog biscuits, wore a "Happiness Is A Warm Pistol" t-shirt, and was dedicated to serving the "guvmint," Maxwell was a hoot and Culp a joy to watch as he chewed the scenery and managed to hold his own against a liberal, whale-loving high school teacher with "magic jammies."
Thanks for all the good times, Bob. It made those Reagan years a bit more tolerable.
So I was wandering around Rite Aid's online store, trying to figure out how to use the bonus points on my Wellness+ Card, and I stumbled across a department that I've never seen in my local outlet. Something called "Sexual Well-Being."
After certifying that I was over 18 years old, I was granted access and was presented with an astonishing variety of items I haven't seen since the Pittsburgh Cultural District cleaned up Liberty Avenue. For example:
Check it out for yourself. If you live in Alabama or Utah, sorry... your state legislatures have decided you shouldn't be able to buy the items for sale here. Someone should ask Mitt about this...
As the techs were removing the test leads from my head and various body parts at the end of yesterday's sleep study debacle, I felt an irritation in my right eye. It was also slightly red. Not unusual, given my allergies. What was odd was my left eye was not similarly affected.
I had been sweating during the night, and I guessed some the goop they used to secure the electrodes to my head had probably seeped into my eye. No problem, I thought. Part of my morning routine is to instill anti-allergy eyedrops, and I assumed that would take care of it.
The irritation continued during the morning. I took a nap, expecting that would clear it up. Wrong again. I awoke after two hours with the lower portion of my right eye a lovely, oozy, pinkish mess.
I went to Jefferson Regional Medical Center's QuickCare center, where I received an eye flushing, a prescription for antihistaminic eye drops, a green apple lollipop, and validated parking. All in 48 minutes.
The physician's assistant who examined me wouldn't confirm my hypothesis that the irritation was caused by the EEG electrode paste; only that I appeared to be having an allergic reaction to something. As someone who deals with daily eye allergies, I told her it felt different- as if I had a foreign substance in my eye. EEG paste has a high salt content to insure the leads have good electrical conductance.
But the PA said she didn't see any foreign substance, so she gave me the prescription and sent me on my way. (The lollipop and validated parking required some personal initiative. Hey, I needed some compensation for the co-pay Blue Cross is going to bill me.)
Three doses of eye drops later, my eye is still red and inflamed. No vision problems, thankfully. They said to see an ophthalmologist on Friday if it doesn't clear up. Screw that. I'll check in with my physician of 40 years, Dr. Larry, who will deal with it straightaway, and then we'll have lunch at The Monkey Bar.
When I get the inevitable diagnosis of sleep apnea and return for a second sleep study to get the CPAP machine, I'm going to weat goggles. If I'm going to have to wear a mask while sleeping, I might as well look Top Gun-ish while doing it.
The sleep study was more or less a six-hour endurance contest.
First, they tell me I have to sleep on my back or my insurance won't cover the test. Swell. I can't remember the last time I slept on my back without the assistance of general anesthesia.
I am a restless sleeper, so about every hour the technicians had to come in to reconnect the leads I had pulled off during my somnambular acrobatics. Finally, around 4 am, when they came in to untangle me a fifth time, they said they had collected enough data and that I could leave.
No coffee in the patient waiting area. Swell. I grabbed a cheese danish and retreated to the Sheetz down the road, where I quickly killed off an entire Extra Dark carafe, black. Thus energized- or at least conscious- I made it home, started the coffee pot and was welcomed by four happy shelties. They've been out, are having breakfast in their crates, and I'm heading upstairs to get my coffee.
Then my furry pals and I are going to sack out on my office floor until about noon.
I get to go through the sleep routine again once the inevitable diagnosis of sleep apnea is reached, and they fit me for one of those CPAP masks and machines.
Only the next time, I'm drinking coffee all day and taking my brief lunchtime nap. Screw 'em. If I'm going to have a rotten night, I may as well enjoy the day leading up to it.
I'm going in for a sleep study tonight. The instructions say 24 hours with no alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, or naps. Oh, yeah. I'll fall to sleep real well. Right after I kill with my bare hands the first stupid bastard who asks me, "So, how was your day...
No coffee and no naps? C'mon, meet me half way here...
The thunderstorm that hit Pittsburgh late Thursday night/early Friday morning. I now feel a bit less foolish about hiding under the desk with the dogs. (Photo by Jason Furda.)
Categories: Photo of the day
A good cause has to be careful of the company it keeps.
All our Western thought is founded on this repulsive pretence that pain is the proper price of any good thing.
Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.
Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.
Everyone realizes that one can believe little of what people say about each other. But it is not so widely realized that even less can one trust what people say about themselves.
God forbid that any book should be banned. The practice is as indefensible as infanticide.
I do not myself find it agreeable to be 90, and I cannot imagine why it should seem so to other people. It is not that you have any fears about your own death, it is that your upholstery is already dead around you.
I find to my astonishment that an unhappy marriage goes on being unhappy when it is over.
If it be ungentlemanly to kiss and tell, it is still further from gentlemanliness to pray and tell.
If there is a God, I don't think He would demand that anyone bow down or stand up to Him. I often have a suspicion that God is still trying to work things out and hasn't finished.
It is not possible that a just God should forgive people who are wicked because another person who was good endured agony by being nailed to a cross.
It is queer how it is always one's virtues and not one's vices that precipitate one into disaster.
It is sometimes very hard to tell the difference between history and the smell of skunk.
Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space.
Just how difficult it is to write a biography can be reckoned by anybody who sits down and considers just how many people know the truth about his or her love affairs.
Most works of art, like most wines, ought to be consumed in the district of their fabrication.
Motherhood is the strangest thing, it can be like being one’s own Trojan horse.
People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
The bad is more easily perceived than the good. A fresh lobster does not give such pleasure to the consumer as a stale one will give him pain.
The general tendency to be censorious of the vices to which one has not been tempted.
The main difference between men and women is that men are lunatics and women are idiots.
The point is that nobody likes having salt rubbed into their wounds, even if it is the salt of the earth.
The trouble about man is twofold. He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple.
The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.
There are two kinds of imperialists- imperialists and bloody imperialists.
There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.
There is, of course, no reason for the existence of the male sex except that sometimes one needs help with moving the piano.
Unfortunately, all gatherings convened for the betterment of the human lot show a tendency to gas themselves, and not with laughing-gas either.
Whatever happens, never forget that people would rather be led to perdition by a man, than to victory by a woman.
Categories: Quotes of the day
KGB notes: The reason you may not see your favorite Einstein quote listed below is because he probably didn't say it.
After extracting the Einstein quotes from the database, I decided to source all of them- and was dismayed to find nearly a third of the entries were either misattributed or lacked any verifiable references.
As a current meme making the rounds says, "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." That astute observation is attributed to... Abraham Lincoln.
That said, I can guarantee these.
In the past it never occurred to me that every casual remark of mine would be snatched up and recorded. Otherwise I would have crept further into my shell.
A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future.
A life directed chiefly toward the fulfillment of personal desires sooner or later always leads to bitter disappointment.
A man who is convinced of the truth of his religion is indeed never tolerant.
A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.
All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph or reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.
America is a democracy and has no Hitler, but I am afraid for her future; there are hard times ahead for the American people, troubles will be coming from within and without. America cannot smile away their Negro problem nor Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There are cosmic laws.
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.
Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work.
Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.
Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. The pursuit of science leads therefore to a religious feeling of a special kind, which differs essentially from the religiosity of more naive people.
Everything is determined... by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust-we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.
Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.
Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do- but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.
Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.
For force always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels.
God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.
God is subtle, but he is not malicious.
Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.
He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.
How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of good will.
I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause
I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.
I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.
I believe in the brotherhood of man and in personal originality. But if you asked me to prove what I believe, I couldn't.
I believe the main task of the spirit is to free man from his ego.
I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty. Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotisms.
I do not believe in a God who maliciously or arbitrarily interferes in the personal affairs of mankind.
I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws.
I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth- rocks!
I do not need any promise of eternity to be happy. My eternity is now. I have only one interest: to fulfill my purpose here where I am. This purpose is not given me by my parents or my surroundings. It is induced by some unknown factors. These factors make me a part of eternity.
I have faith in the universe, for it is rational. Law underlies each happening. And I have faith in my purpose here on earth. I have faith in my intuition, the language of my conscience, but I have no faith in speculation about Heaven and Hell. I'm concerned with this time- here and now.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
I have only two rules which I regard as principles of conduct. The first is: Have no rules. The second is: Be independent of the opinion of others.
I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.
I love to travel, but I hate to arrive.
I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book.
I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.
I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.
I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.
If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.
If I had foreseen Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I would have torn up my formula in 1905.
If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.
If the believers of the present-day religions would earnestly try to think and act in the spirit of the founders of these religions then no hostility on the basis of religion would exist among the followers of the different faiths. Even the conflicts and the realm of religion would be exposed as insignificant.
If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal. Not to people or things.
In order to be a perfect member of a flock of sheep, one has to be, foremost, a sheep.
Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
Morality is of the highest importance- but for us, not for God.
My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized.
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.
Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind.
Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But there is no doubt in my mind that the lion belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself to the eye all at once because of his huge dimension.
Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.
Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.
Our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal.
Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem- in my opinion- to characterize our age.
Philosophy is empty if it isn't based on science. Science discovers, philosophy interprets.
Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.
Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the “old one.” I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice.
Religion and science go together. As I've said before, science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind.
Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
Since others have explained my theory, I can no longer understand it myself.
Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.
Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.
The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful, and then only for a short while.
The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can't grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.
The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.
The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.
The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.
The most important tool of the theoretical physicist is his wastebasket.
The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem. It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.
The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.
The wonder of nature does not become smaller because one cannot measure it by the standards of human moral and human aims.
The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.
To punish me for my contempt for authority, Fate made me an authority myself.
Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value.
Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.
What a betrayal of man's dignity. He uses the highest gift, his mind, only ten percent, and his emotions and instincts ninety percent.
When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute-and it's longer than any hour. That's relativity.
When the blind beetle crawls over the surface of a globe, he doesn't realize that the track he has covered is curved. I was lucky enough to have spotted it.
Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.
While religion prescribes brotherly love in the relations among the individuals and groups, the actual spectacle more resembles a battlefield than an orchestra.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.
Why is it nobody understands me and everybody likes me?
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. The very prevention of war requires more faith, courage and resolution than are needed to prepare for war. We must all do our share, that we may be equal to the task of peace.
You must warn people not to make the intellect their God. The intellect knows methods but it seldom knows values, and they come from feeling. If one doesn't play a part in the creative whole, he is not worth being called human. He has betrayed his true purpose.
As long as the world shall last, there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.
At twenty a man is full of fight and hope. He wants to reform the world. When he is seventy he still wants to reform the world, but he knows he can't.
Can any rational person believe that the Bible is anything but a human document?
Chase after the truth like all hell and you’ll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat tails.
Depressions may bring people closer to the church but so do funerals.
Do you, good people, believe that Adam and Eve were created in the Garden of Eden and that they were forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge? I do. The church has always been afraid of that tree. It still is afraid of knowledge. Some of you say religion makes people happy. So does laughing gas. So does whiskey. I believe in the brain of man. I'm not worried about my soul.
Freedom comes from human beings, rather than from laws and institutions.
History repeats itself. That's one of the things wrong with history.
I am a friend of the working man, and I would rather be his friend than be one.
I am an Agnostic because I am not afraid to think. I am not afraid of any god in the universe who would send me or any other man or woman to hell. If there were such a being, he would not be a god; he would be a devil.
I am pleading for a time when hatred and cruelty will not control the hearts of men. When we can learn by reason and judgment and a understanding and faith that all life is worth saving, and that mercy is the highest attribute of man.
I do not consider it an insult, but rather a compliment to be called an agnostic. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure- that is all that agnosticism means.
I go to a better tailor than any of you and pay more for my clothes. The only difference is that you probably don't sleep in yours.
I had grown tired of standing in the lean and lonely front line facing the greatest enemy that ever confronted man- public opinion.
I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.
I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.
If there is to be any permanent improvement in man and any better social order, it must come mainly from the education and humanizing of man.
In the great flood of human life that is spawned upon the earth, it is not often that a man is born.
It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.
It's not bad people I fear so much as good people. When a person is sure that he is good, he is nearly hopeless. He gets cruel. He believes in punishment.
Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.
Liberty is the most jealous and exacting mistress that can beguile the brain and soul of man.
No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.
Physical deformity, calls forth our charity. But the infinite misfortune of moral deformity calls forth nothing but hatred and vengeance.
Religion is the belief in future life and in God. I don't believe in either.
The Constitution is a delusion and a snare if the weakest and humblest man in the land cannot be defended in his right to speak and his right to think as much as the strongest in the land.
The fact that there is a general belief in a future life is no evidence of its truth.
The fear of God is not the beginning of wisdom. The fear of God is the death of wisdom. Skepticism and doubt lead to study and investigation, and investigation is the beginning of wisdom.
The first half of our lives are ruined by our parents and the second half by our children.
The law does not pretend to punish everything that is dishonest. That would seriously interfere with business.
The truth is always modern and there never comes a time when it is safe to give it voice.
The world is made up for the most part of morons and natural tyrants, sure of themselves, strong in their own opinions, never doubting anything.
There is no such crime as a crime of thought; there are only crimes of action.
There is no such thing as justice- in or out of court.
True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I'm beginning to believe it.
Whenever I hear people discussing birth control, I always remember that I was fifth.
With all their faults, trade-unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed.
You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
All of life is a foreign country.
All our best men are laughed at in this nightmare land.
But, outside of being a sweet little girl, she was awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things.
Houses are full of things that gather dust.
I have nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.
I'm Catholic and I can't commit suicide, but I plan to drink myself to death.
If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.
Let there be joy in baseball again, like in the days when Babe Ruth chased an enemy sportswriter down the streets of Boston and ended up getting drunk with him on the waterfront and came back the next day munching on hotdogs and boomed home runs to the glory of God.
Maybe that's what life is... a wink of the eye and winking stars.
My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.
Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.
Pretty girls make graves.
So long and take it easy, because if you start taking things seriously, it is the end of you.
Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.
The beauty of things must be that they end.
The best teacher is experience and not through someone's distorted point of view.
There are worse things than being mad.
There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.
This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do.
Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
You can't fight City Hall. It keeps changing its name.
Choosing to have a child that you can't take care of is like farting in an elevator. Sure, you got it out, but now it's everyone else's problem.
I always look for a woman who has a tattoo. I see a woman with a tattoo, and I'm thinking, okay, here's a gal who's capable of making a decision she'll regret in the future.
I think that's how Chicago got started. A bunch of people in New York said, “Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough, let's go west.”
Imagine my surprise when it turned out the main thing that I was qualified for was to get another degree and teach Political Science to other people, who would, in turn, teach it to other people! This wasn't higher education, this was Amway with a football team!
In any relationship there are certain doors that should never be opened. The bathroom door, for example.
In the United States economic system you can lose big or you can win big. If you lose you wind up wearing a Hefty bag and sleeping in a doorway. If you win you can have sex with Catherine Zeta Jones when you're seventy-five.
It's a sad fact that fifty percent of marriages in this country end in divorce. But hey, the other half end in death. You could be one of the lucky ones!
It's better to be alone than to wish you were alone.
Live each day as if it were the last day of your life because, so far, it is.
My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son of a bitch.
Never fry bacon when you're naked.
Religious war? Now you're just killing people in an argument over who has the better imaginary friend.
Say whatever you want. But the United States has a kickass military and really good bullshit marketing people. If this country was a person it would be a used car salesman with a flamethrower.
Seventy-five percent of all Americans believe that angels are real. Which is amazing when you consider that forty percent of all Americans think DNA evidence is unreliable.
Spiritual is the word people use when they mean they want to be covered when they die but they're not getting up early on a Sunday.
Success is like toilet paper. It only seems important if you don't have it.
Success is made up of courage, brains and luck. Since the first two are a function of the third, it's pretty much all luck.
The way I look at life, we're all in the Hindenburg. No point fighting over the window seat.
The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in “Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire” and the computer will ask, “Specify type of goat.”
There are only two reasons to sit in the back row of an airplane: Either you have diarrhea, or you're anxious to meet people who do.
There is an obesity epidemic. One out of every three Americans weighs as much as the other two.
We would need less gun control if we had better birth control.
When one guy sees an invisible man, he's a nut case. Ten people see him, it's a cult. Ten million people see him it's a respected religion.
Why is human cloning illegal? All it is is making a certain type of person on purpose. Can they possibly be any worse than the assholes we're pumping out by accident?
In America, the Republican presidential race has come down to Mitt
Romney, who's a Mormon elder, and Rick Santorum, who's a Spanish
Inquisition-level Catholic. The pivotal question is who's most willing
to bomb Iran, because everyone agrees that religious fanatics shouldn't
have nuclear weapons.
-BBC's The Now Show
Categories: Quotes of the day
A black man voting for the Republicans makes about as much sense as a
chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
-Buddy Watts, Sr.
A compassionate conservative is someone who electrocutes juveniles but
lets them have a last “make a wish.”
A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a
tax can escape the obligation to pay it.
-Alexis de Tocqueville
A lot of people voting for Pat Buchanan say they are doing so to send a
message. Apparently that message is, “Hey, look at me, I'm an idiot.”
A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.
A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring, one
for talking through, and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.
A society is not “free” merely because the freedoms the people are doing
away with are those they voted at the last election to do without.
-William F. Buckley, Jr.
A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.
-O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may
cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
-John Quincy Adams
America is a land where a citizen will cross the ocean to fight for
democracy- and won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a
sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
And by the way, I've about had it with this “greatest generation”
malarkey. You people have one stock market crash in 1929, and it takes
you a dozen years to go get a job. Then you wait until Germany and Japan
have conquered half the world before it occurs to you to get involved in
World War II. After that you get surprised by a million Red Chinese in
Korea. Where do you put a million Red Chinese so they'll be a surprise?
You spend the entire 1950s watching Lawrence Welk and designing tail
fins. You come up with the idea for Vietnam. Thanks. And you elect
Richard Nixon. The hell with you.
Any sufficiently advanced coup is indistinguishable from an election.
-John Alejandro King (The Covert Comic)
Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at
great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
Applause, mingled with boos and hisses, is about all that the average
voter is able or willing to contribute to public life.
As people do better, they start voting like Republicans... unless they
have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be
too much of a good thing.
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are
used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by
destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people
will solemnly vote against their own interests.
Ask a man which way he is going to vote, and he will probably tell you.
Ask him, however, why, and vagueness is all.
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
-George J. Nathan
Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on
what to have for dinner.
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment
by the corrupt few.
-George Bernard Shaw
Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to
find out if the polls were right?
Domestic policy can only lose elections. Foreign policy can kill us.
-John F. Kennedy
Don't get mad. Don't get even. Just get elected, then get even.
Don't vote. It only encourages them.
During an election campaign the air is full of speeches and vice versa.
Elected office holds more perks than Elvis' nightstand.
Elected officials should be limited to two terms: one in office and one
Election year is that period when politicians get free speech mixed up
with cheap talk.
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote
against somebody rather than for somebody.
-Franklin P. Adams
Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
Florida's number three industry, behind tourism and skin cancer, is
Free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary mean little
when the free market means they are on sale to the highest bidder.
Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.
Give voters a choice between a Republican and a Republican, and they
will choose a Republican every time.
-Harry S Truman
Given a choice between two bald political candidates, the American
people will vote for the less bald of the two.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than
Christianity has made them good.
Half the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for
President- the same half?
Here's the thing about rights. They're not supposed to be voted on.
That's why they call them rights.
I didn't vote for change, but that's all I have left.
I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient
to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political
truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.
-William F. Buckley, Jr.
I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all,
we've been voting for boobs long enough.
I voted for the Democrats because I didn't like the way the Republicans
were running the country. Which is turning out to be like shooting
yourself in the head to stop your headache.
I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who
are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there.
I'll be glad to either reply to or dodge your questions, whichever I
think will help our election most.
-George Herbert Walker Bush
I'm sorry, but voting for a presidential candidate because you like the
choice for vice president is like getting married to a woman because you
like her cat.
-Kevin G. Barkes
If elected, I will win.
If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected
swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.
-Orson Scott Card
If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
If you don't vote, then you may be leaving the decisions up to someone
dumber than you.
If you make less than $50,000 a year and vote Republican, you are a
If you voted for change, you better start counting it.
If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on
who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock
stars? Because we're morons.
In 1929 the wise, far-seeing electors of my native Hereford sent me to
Westminster and, two years later, the lousy bastards kicked me out.
In a democracy, the votes of the vicious and stupid count. On the other
hand, in any other system, they might be running the show.
-(from The Boston Globe)
In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count
In my lifetime, we've gone from Eisenhower to George W. Bush. We've gone
from John F. Kennedy to Al Gore. If this is evolution, I believe that in
twelve years, we'll be voting for plants.
In nature, stupidity gets you killed. In the workplace, it gets you
fired. In politics, it gets you re-elected.
In our brief national history we have shot four of our presidents,
worried five of them to death, impeached one and hounded another out of
office. And when all else fails, we hold an election and assassinate
In our system, at about 11:30 on election night, they just push you off
the edge of the cliff and that's it. You might scream on the way down,
but you're going to hit the bottom, and you're not going to be in
In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the
electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.
-Charles de Gaulle
It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.
It makes no difference who you vote for- the two parties are really one
party representing four percent of the people.
It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting.
Like the effect of advertising upon the customer, the methods of
political propaganda tend to increase the feeling of insignificance of
the individual voter.
Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights.
Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have
My favorite time in the cycles of public life is the time when the Pope
is dead and they haven't elected a new one. There's no one in the world
who is infallible for those weeks. And you know, I don't miss it.
Never pass up an opportunity to appear on C-Span. C-Span viewers vote.
Never vote for the best candidate. Vote for the one who will do the
Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard
working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all
the publicity. But then, we elected them.
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a
democracy out of an illiterate people.
Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a
-Mark B. Cohen
Once there were two brothers: one ran away to sea, the other was elected
Vice-President- and nothing was ever heard from either of them again.
Our elections are free, it's in the results where eventually we pay.
People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an
-Otto von Bismarck
People vote their resentment, not their appreciation. The average man
does not vote for anything but against something.
-H.H. Munro (Saki)
Politics is how you live your life, not whom you vote for.
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign
funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.
Son, if you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their
women, and then vote against 'em, you don't deserve to be here.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with
the average voter.
The difference between a politician and a statesman is: a politician
thinks of the next election and a statesman thinks of the next
-James Freeman Clarke
The difference between a real horse race an election is that in a horse
race the whole horse wins.
The difference between corporations and governments is governments have
a monopoly on force. It's a lot easier to vote with your feet or your
wallet than it is to change a government with your vote.
The good news is I'm leading in the polls. The bad news is the election
-George W. Bush
The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to
do something stupid.
The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as
though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against
ever hearing the truth about anything.
The next time they give you all that civic bullshit about voting, keep
in mind that Hitler was elected in a full, free democratic election.
The only difference between [George W.] Bush and [Adolf] Hitler is that
Hitler was elected.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
The only way to win an election by a greater margin than Saddam Hussein
in Iraq is to be a Democratic candidate in Chicago.
-John Alejandro King (The Covert Comic)
The organization of American society is an interlocking system of
semi-monopolies notoriously venal, an electorate notoriously
unenlightened, misled by a mass media notoriously phony.
The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work; then
they get elected and prove it.
There's a true schizophrenia where if you say to voters, you know, do
you think the federal government spends too much money and they should
spend less, they say yeah, absolutely. Then you name specific things,
like Pell grants for students and they say, no, not that. How 'bout NIH,
medical research funding? Nah, you really shouldn't cut that. And pretty
soon you've proved that what the American public is against is
Things on the whole are much faster in America; people don't “stand for
election”, they “run for office.”
To talk of atomic energy in terms of atomic bombs is like talking of
electricity in terms of the electric chair.
-Peter L. Kapitza
Truth is not determined by majority vote.
Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying
to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-and both commonly
succeed, and are right.
Unfortunately, you can't vote the rascals out, because you never voted
them in, in the first place.
Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing.
Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of
himself and a wreck of his country.
Voters quickly forget what a man says.
-Richard M. Nixon
Voting is like driving... you choose “D” to move forwards and “R” to go
We already know the winners of the next election. They'll be old white
men who don't care about you or your problems.
We elect Democrats to the Congress to give us stuff and we elect
Republicans to the White House so we don't have to pay for it.
We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate.
-Frank McKinney (Kin) Hubbard
What's real in politics is what the voters decide is real.
-Ben J. Wattenberg
Whenever a fellow tells me he is bipartisan, I know he's going to vote
-Harry S Truman
Why take a chance on a candidate who might lose? You can always buy them
after the election.
-Santo Trafficante, Jr.
Years ago, fairy tales all began with “Once upon a time...” Now we know
they all begin with “If I am elected.”
You know I could run for governor but I'm basically a media creation.
I've never done anything. I've worked for my dad. I worked in the oil
business. But that's not the kind of profile you have to have to get
elected to public office. (In 1989)
-George W. Bush
You will never escape the will of the mob. About the best anyone has
ever figured out to do is herd them into voting booths.
The people have spoken, the bastards.
Yeah, what a snob. Obama thinks everybody should go to college like he
did. Some of us weren’t handed a ticket to Harvard by being the
bi-racial son of a single mother on food stamps. Must be nice.
It's being reported that Snooki is pregnant. When Rick Santorum heard
the news, he immediately came out in favor of birth control.
Today, in a suburb of Detroit, Mitt Romney asked supporters to donate
money to his campaign. Of course, the people then pointed out that they
live in Detroit. And he's Mitt Romney.
I think Rick Santorum learned something yesterday. He learned that
electoral college is not for everyone. Not everyone needs to go the
Other countries care for their mentally ill. We're not doing them any
favors by giving them radio shows.
As of today, Rick Santorum will be assigned Secret Service agents. This
is the first time Santorum has agreed to use any kind of protection.
Rick Santorum is claiming that Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have teamed up
against him. Which is kind of ironic- that Santorum can be brought down
by two men forming a civil union.
Sassy, our second-youngest Sheltie and the most rambunctious of the pups, turns eight today. We received a note from the folks at Valley Vet a month ago reminding us it was time for her annual check-up, and there was a new item on her exam list: geriatric blood test.
Sigh. We didn't tell her. Age is a state of mind, anyway.
While it is jarring, and sometimes seems unjust, or strange, this
transition we call dying and death is a constant in the mortal
experience that we know almost nothing about. I am of the mind that it
is a transition and I carry with me a certainty of the continuity of
existence. While I don't exactly know what happens in these times, there
is an ongoing sense of life that reaches in my mind out far beyond the
near horizons of mortality and into the reaches of infinity. That David
has stepped beyond my view causes me the sadness that it does many of
you. I will miss him, but I won't abandon him to mortality. I will think
of him as existing within the animating life that insures existence. I
will think of him and his family with that gentle regard in spite of all
the contrary appearances on the mortal plane. David's spirit and soul
live well in my heart, among all the lovely people, who remember with me
the good times, and the healing times, that were created for so many,
including us. I have fond memories. I wish him safe travels.
-Michael Nesmith, on the death of Davy Jones
Categories: Quotes of the day
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