"During my long journey through the world of evil, I had discovered three sources of power: the power of an individual's inner freedom, the power of a free society, and the power of the solidarity of the free world."-- Natan Sharansky, "The Case for Democracy"

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April 23, 2017

Review Corner

During the 1990s Gates wrote a syndicated newspaper column in which he answered questions from the public. When asked in 1996 about the saying, he replied: "I've said some stupid things and some wrong things, but not that. No one involved in computers would ever say that a certain amount of memory is enough for all time."
Hemingway Didn't Say That we'd never need more than 640K ram in a computer (well,, as far as we know...) and neither did Microsoft Chief Bill Gates.

Garson O'Toole debunks a pile of these misattributed or false quotations on his Quote Investigator website. But he has published a collection as Hemingway Didn't Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations. I got the Kindle version and enjoyed it very much.

O'Toole is a diligent researcher and the QI site is something of a Snopes for quotes. I think the comparison favors the less diligent Snopes.com better than QI, but you get the idea. Users can request research, but "QI maintains more than two thousand open files representing partial investigations many of which are ongoing. New requests arrive every day."

I'll be bookmarking the site, but the book is a pretty entertaining read. Whether you know the quote or not, the pedigrees are interesting. O'Toole goes back and traces similar thoughts, plus possible sources for ambiguity.

In conclusion , the quotation is from a character named Socrates who was a gas station attendant in a book published in the 1980s by Dan Millman. The quote is not from the renowned Greek philosopher .

Simple mistake -- it could happen to anybody. (The quote in question: "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.")

The mangled quotes and missteps along the way are often as inspirational -- and frequently more amusing -- than the actual quote. A Charles Farrar Browne, writing under the pseudonym Artemus Ward, invented a fake letter writer called "O. Abe," and generated a false quote attributed to Abe Lincoln. Along the way, we get a glimpse of "Artemus Ward's" style:

This note satirized the pseudo - endorsements presented by charlatans selling ineffectual patent medicines :
Artemus Ward : Respected Sir -- My wife was afflicted with the pipsywipsy in the head for nearly eight years . The doctors all gave her up . But in a fortunate moment she went to one of your lectures , and commenced recovering very rapidly . She is now in perfect health . We like your lectures very much . Please send me a box of them . They are purely vegetable. Send me another five dollar bill and I'll write you another certificate twice as long as this. Yours, &c., Amos Pilkins

Mistaken identity is just one cause. But the backstory is always entertaining. And each ends with an informed conclusion as to who should claim proper attribution. "With great power comes great responsibility" Voltaire? Churchill? Spider-man?
Prominent world leaders such as Lord Melbourne, Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt made similar statements in later years, prior to Spider-Man

I got a few wrong, and there were many I had not heard. One startled me. "If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail." Attributed to Mark Twain.

"Codswallop!" says I. That's Abraham Maslow -- and a favorite of mine (both Maslow and the quote). I read with sweaty palms afflicting the capacitance required for the Kindle's touch screen. Have I been propagating falsehood for decades?

Nope, this was one I got. O'Toole comes to attribute Maslow but finds a handful of interesting antecedents:

In conclusion, by 1962 Abraham Kaplan had formulated a version of the saying featuring a boy that expressed the central idea. However, Kaplan did not use the important word "nail." In 1963 Silvan S. Tomkins wrote a version with the word "nail," but it differed from popular modern instances. In 1966 Abraham Maslow wrote a version that is similar to popular expressions circulating today.

Pretty fun book you can go cover to cover, look for quotes that interest you, or just take a random flip through. Four stars.

April 21, 2017

It Always Happens

Man, I liked Earth Day before it got all commercialized.


April 20, 2017

OMG -- they're acting like GOP!

So, the Democrats and Hollywood glitterati pony up "more than $8 million, quadruple the next-closest contender" according to Jim Geraghty. And Senator Ice Cream from Vermont cannot play along?

Over the last few days, Sanders's [sic, it's only the WaPo] has at times offered some odd comments for a guy pushing for Democratic unity.


But johngalt thinks:

Hopefully it's contagious.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2017 5:18 PM

All Hail Freeman

The "Metaphor Alert" was my least favorite recurring feature of the Taranto Best of the Web franchise. Perhaps it's because I am a dug-in, line fighter who is willing to staunch the bleeding to the core for mixed metaphors, but I do not get overly offended.

But, I'll give James a few points for this one today -- it's a gem.


Posted by John Kranz at 4:11 PM | What do you think? [0 comments]

April 19, 2017

All Hail Freeman

In Venezuela, resisting the socialist government takes a bit more courage than simply knitting a hat. Ms. [Anastasia] O'Grady wrote on Monday:
So far this month pro-government militias or the police have allegedly killed three protesters in and around Barquisimeto, the capital city of Lara state. A demonstrator was fatally shot in Valencia--the third largest city in the country--and the governor of Carabobo state has admitted that the police were responsible. Another young protester was killed in a satellite city of Caracas, and an 87-year-old Caracas woman died when tear gas inundated her home.
Ms. O'Grady added that roving "bands of government-sponsored militias terrorize civil society."

But protesters seem increasingly unwilling to be intimidated. "It's time to stop being poor and hungry. I'm going to stay in the streets until we get rid of this government," 21-year-old graphic designer Rolisber Aguirre told the Associated Press last week.

Freeman is suggesting that Democratic leaders should be cautious about elevating Sen. Bernie Sanders's (El Jefé -- VT) position in the party.

But James Freeman needs to know my brother. My brother will wring his hands and roll his eyes and say "For the hundredth time, let me explain: Bernie wants Democratic Socialism."

I suppose the people in Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" never look like one's friends.

But johngalt thinks:

*ahem* "Chávez was elected to his first term as President of Venezuela with the largest percentage of the popular vote (56.2%) since 1983, when Jaime Lusinchi won with 58.4% of the vote."

And an ironic aside - "Initially weak in the polls, Chávez ran on an anti-corruption and anti-poverty platform, condemning the two major parties that had dominated Venezuelan politics since 1958; and began to gain ground in the polls after the previous front runners faded." (emphasis mine)

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2017 7:54 PM

Quote of the Day

Now that tax day has passed, I must thank you, my fellow federal taxpayers. You all are the wind beneath my solar panels.

Pardon me for mixing energy metaphors, but it's only appropriate that I express appreciation for the generous subsidy you provided for the 28-panel, four-array, 8,540-watt photovoltaic system I installed on my metal roof last year. Thanks to the investment tax credit, I slashed my 2016 federal tax bill by $7,758. -- Robert Bryce [WSJ Guest Editorial] [Review Corner]

Pompous Ass Alert

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting the capital-S Science crowd into an excited molecular state for the big march! "This is Science! It's not something to toy with!" He shouts at 2:45 of his new four-minute video. I cannot embed, but you should oughtta watch it. It's archetypal Tyson.

But -- am I wrong? -- he's a property rights denier! That's not a bon mot attempt on my part, the video opens with the question "How did America rise up from a backwoods country to become one of the greatest nations the world has ever known?"

I expected Deirdre McCloskey to come out and explain Bourgeois Dignity in her scratchy voice. But no, Tyson's dulcet tones continued . . . it is . . . wait for it . . . you're not going to believe this . . . it is because of Science! All these amazing industries we invented! Because we used to believe in science, I mean Science!

So, Doctor Tyson, Dr. McCloskey would ask you, as a proponent of Popperesque epistemology, "why did this scientific miracle happened here?" We believed in Science better than the Danes? Britain started to doubt that F= dP/dt and lost her empire to the colonists? In a word -- and I know you love direct talk -- Bullshit! (Okay, I just added the "Rant" category.)

By the same token, are we failing in the 21st Century because we've ceased to believe everything that you and Bill Nye say? Or are we slipping because we're abandoning bourgeois dignity?

He says that once we all agree on the obvious science (of climate change), only then we can make the informed political choices between [~3:05] carbon credits, taxes, do we put a tariff, do we subsidize? He did not list any free-market options, but, hey, it's only a four minute film. No doubt time was tight.

When you stop denying the benefits of property rights, Dr. Tyson, then and only them will we be able to have the political conversation about solving the problems of our day. This is economics! It's not something to toy with!

But johngalt thinks:

Let em have it, brother!

Does it make me a fringe partisan hack, however, to add: "This is liberty! It's not something to toy with!" -Patrick Henry

Posted by: johngalt at April 19, 2017 4:51 PM
But jk thinks:

Three of my friends share this video today. Sigh.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2017 11:34 AM

Clearly, the problem is with their knit hats

POLITICO: "Democrats begin to wonder: When do we win?"

For all the anger, energy, and money swirling at the grassroots level, Democrats didnt manage to pick off the first two Republican-held congressional seats they contended for in the Trump era, and the prospects arent markedly better in the next few House races coming up: the Montana race at the end of May, and the South Carolina contest on June 20.

Their best shot at knocking Donald Trump down a peg appears to be Ossoff's runoff against Republican Karen Handel, also scheduled for June 20. But the Democrat will be an underdog in that contest, when there won't be a crowded field of Republicans to splinter the vote.

I'm going to turn my favorite joke on its head. Yes, the GOP has several substantive challenges in the midterms. But "I hear they're going to let us run against the Democrats this year!" Like Jon Caldara, I see the weaknesses of my registered party vividly. But -- holy bovine! -- all they have is incompetent anger. They're elevating the Sanders-Warren wing, and now Rep. Maxine Waters is speaking for the party as a whole.

An amazing opportunity? You bet. But I see no evidence they will exploit it.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty agrees, and adds this gem in his "Morning Jolt" newsletter:

Ossoff also had a huge fundraising advantage that he's not likely to enjoy again, and that few candidates anywhere ever get to enjoy: more than $8 million, quadruple the next-closest contender. Not many Democratic House candidates get Samuel L. Jackson making radio ads for them, either, declaring, "We have to channel the great vengeance and furious anger we have for this administration into votes at the ballot box." That's nice. Democrats kind-of, sort-of did. But... Hillary Clinton won 47 percent in this district on Election Day 2016, and Ossoff won 48 percent.

Even for "The Nation" I'm impressed

The Other Poison Gas Killing Syrians: Carbon Dioxide Emissions

If Trump and his cronies really cared about children killed by noxious gases, they wouldn't be trying to spew ever more CO2 into the atmosphere.

Which is more frightening? That Juan Cole actually believes this nonsense or that they are so tone-deaf and reality-resistant that they publish it anyway?

April 18, 2017

Standing Up!

Y'all might be proud of me. I let most of the nonsense about recycling and sustainability and such drivel pass on the Erie Facebook page. But this was too far:


UPDATE: Good old Weld County! Three of the next four are pro-energy, including:

Erie students are entitled to a school that has light, heat, and a/c, powered by clean, green natural gas energy from fracking. Hopefully, some scientifically literate teachers too, please.

But johngalt thinks:

Seriously, haven't the anti-frackers jumped the shark?

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2017 5:21 PM
But jk thinks:

Should have. I am not at all convinced that it has.

This is a big deal to all the Boulderites who have moved into Erie (missing the part about Weld's being the 8th County in the nation in energy production): "you can't frac around schools!"

But the pushback is much better than I expected.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2017 5:39 PM

April 17, 2017

Calling the Market Top

I saw the future once. I did not act, but I bet it was a good stock pick.

It was clear to me in the early 00's that Hyundai Motor Corp was poised to climb a tier and become a serious competitor. I was rather impressed with their design, and the sequence of models they were rolling out seemed well-considered. Their extended warranty addressed uncertainty customers may have held about quality and reliability. "These guys have got it together," thought 2003 me. The 2007 price was 56.70 and it is 120 today. That's not bad but not Facebook.

I'm calling "hold" or "sell" today, though:

YONGIN, South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Group's plans for green cars are a costly array of hybrids, plug-ins, pure electrics and fuel-cell vehicles for both the Hyundai and Kia brands.

But the automaker's eco-car czar, Lee Ki-sang, expects a technological shakeout between 2020 and 2025 that will make it clearer whether a post-lithium ion battery breakthrough is on the horizon.

I fear they are over-committing to the eco-sector. At the risk of preaching to the choir, I'm rather impressed by the muscle sector. Those who've bet on abundance have beat those who bet on scarcity.

It could change. But I am not loading up on eco-car manufacturers.

But johngalt thinks:

Here's the thing about "eco-cars" - see if it affects your calculus:

The ones that add an electric motor to a petrol power plant are, often, more economical AND more powerful. There's a full collection of hybrid models from the top-end performance brands: Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, etc. When you compare a pure torque electric drive motor to a turbocharger, for example, the latter comes up short. There's no such thing as "EV lag."

And another data point for you is this: Fiat-Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne said that by 2025, 90 percent of all new FCA vehicles will be some sort of electric hybrid.

A funny thing happened on the way to government distorting the market to make hybrids more readily available - the tech and the economics made them market winners.

Posted by: johngalt at April 17, 2017 7:31 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps. That's not how I read the article, but if the company is as savvy as I thought, maybe that is where they're headed.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2017 9:51 AM

Quote of the Day

And Mr. Perez is backing up his radical rhetoric by touring with Sen. Sanders, an avowed socialist who seems to be finding a permanent home in the Democratic Party--at least when he's not staying in one of his other homes. -- James Freeman BOTW

April Seventeenth

For those poor souls denied my stellar wit on Facebook:


Otequay of the Ayday

An extended QOTD today.

"Washington is built to destroy Republican presidents and right now the road to victory runs right through Steve Bannon's office.

Giving him up won't change the hostility to the president. It won't make the forces arrayed against him suddenly support enforcement of immigration laws or an America First national security policy. It won't make them give up on crony capitalism or the administrative state. And Jared and Ivanka won't get the Camelot coverage they're being promised.

And those making the promises? Their lips drip honey and their speech is smoother than oil, but in the end they are bitter as wormwood and their path leads to destruction. The more likely scenario is that if those calling for Bannon's head get it they will target the Kushners next. That's because the battle isn't Bannon v. Kushner as some in the press would have us believe, it's Washington v. Trump."

-Chris Buskirk at American Greatness.

But jk thinks:

I guess we'll have to rely on the President's deep devotion to his foundational principles, then.

But seriously, folks, I think he has lost on both sides of this. Bringing him in, he was exposed to harsh criticism from moderates. Now, throwing him under the bus, he's alienating both true believers and loyalists.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2017 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Did you see "Our Margaret's" rather kind take? Does Steve Bannon Have Something to Offer?

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2017 5:54 PM

April 16, 2017

Review Corner

As month after month of the overseas deployment wore on, I used my previous failure as motivation to outwork, outhustle, and outperform everyone in the platoon. I sometimes fell short of being the best, but I never fell short of giving it my best. In time, I regained the respect of my men. Several years later I was selected to command a SEAL Team of my own. Eventually I would go on to command all the SEALs on the West Coast.
Admiral William H. McRaven has ten pieces of advice for you. You can add to the ten million views of his University of Texas Commencement address on YouTube. Or you can read -- in about the same amount of time -- the book it inspired: Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World.

The book is a best seller, and has generated a lot of buzz in a diverse range of media outlets. Each of his "lessons" opens with a challenging story from his SEAL training off Coronado in San Diego (I optimistically project that I would have made it about three minutes in SEAL training). Each lesson concludes with a real-word application of that knowledge, generally in combat or other serious moment.

The last "self-help" book I read was Dr. Wayne Dyer in 1977. And, no, I didn't help. This belongs, perhaps, in that genre, but if so it redeems it. The Admiral didn't receive any participation trophies and is not handing them out. Curiously, he is currently serving as Chancellor of the University of Texas System, providing one more bit of hope for the Lone Star State.

But McRaven's advice is real-world. It is applicable outside the military, but realistic and substantive enough for life-or-death leadership.

Over the course of the next three years, John Kelly and I became close friends. He was a remarkable officer, a strong husband to his wife, Karen, and a loving father to his daughter, Kate, and oldest son, Marine Major John Kelly. But more than that, without ever knowing it, John Kelly gave all those around him hope. Hope that in the very worst of times we could rise above the pain, the disappointment, and the agony and be strong. That we each had within us the ability to carry on and not only to survive but also to inspire others.

Hope is the most powerful force in the universe. With hope you can inspire nations to greatness. With hope you can raise up the downtrodden. With hope you can ease the pain of unbearable loss.

Sometimes all it takes is one person to make a difference. We will all find ourselves neck deep in mud someday. That is the time to sing loudly, to smile broadly, to lift up those around you.

No, I'm not providing the background for this quote. Buy and enjoy this short but powerful book. Five stars.

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