More random quotes from Bartlett’s

Under the category of origin of phrases, all within just a few pages of each other:


“No time like the present.”  Mary de la Riviere Manley (1663-1724).

“He laughs best who laughs last.”  Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726).

“Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.”  William Congreve (1670-1729).

“Heaven hath no rage like love to hatred turned

Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”  William Congreve (1670-1729).

“Facts are stubborn things.”  Alain Rene Lesage (1668-1747)

Are you as surprised as I am that these are as old as they are?


And one just because I like it:


“May you live all the days of your life.”  Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).

Precise use of language

I’m struck by the loose use of language we’ve come to accept, sometime without even thinking about it.  For example, consider the word “free.”  How often have we heard a mail-order offer: buy one and get a second one free “just pay shipping and handling”?  Typically, the product is some cheap piece of plastic and the shipping and handling charges are so overblown (after all, the second item won’t be separately shipped, so why should there be a separate charge at all), they are probably making a profit on the second, supposedly free, item!  Also, before the Olympics, I received a mail request to support the U.S. team with a donation.  For a donation of $20 or more, I’d receive a “free” Olympics cap.  In other words, I’d have to pay $20 and the only thing I’d receive in return was the cap.  How is that free?

The next example is more cynical.  In Obama’s TV ad that is running here quite often, he says his plan calls for the rich to pay a little more so we can “pay down the debt.”  Huh?  No one is talking about paying down the debt.  We can’t even eliminate the yearly deficit.  True, Obama may not know the difference between “debt” and “deficit” but his ad writers sure should.

Or consider the fact that we routinely say that an Olympian “won” a bronze medal.  Well, no.  The Olympian lost the event.  He/she was awarded a bronze medal for not losing as badly as all but two other competitors in the event.

I’m sure you can think of lots of other, perhaps better, examples to share.

Quotes from George Eliot (Marian Evans Cross)

I haven’t been providing quotes lately, but I found my Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations the other day.  I opened it at random and came across these George Eliot quotes that seemed worth sharing:


“There’s no real making amends in the world, any more nor can you mend a wrong subtraction by doing your addition right.”


“It’s but little good you do a-watering the last year’s crops.”


“A patronizing disposition always has its meaner side.”


“It’s them that take advantage that get advantage i’ this world.”


“He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.”


Wish I could write like that.

Building of a mosque at site of a victory?

Please help me with something.  In discussing the ground zero mosque last night with my son, he asked me to find authority for the proposition that the mosque was being built as a part of a Muslim tradition of building mosques at the site of their victories.  As the most knowledgeable group of people I know (yeah, that’s sucking up, but it’s also true!), I’m asking for your help.

What authority do you know of, authority that would persuade an open-minded but skeptical fellow like my son, that Muslims generally have a tradition of building mosques at the spot of their victories and/or that this particular mosque was proposed as a part of that tradition?  What else do you know about that whole dispute that might be useful in my discussion with my son?

Thanks, DQ

Does Obama want to abolish and loot the suburbs?

Sadie found the article quoted below (Thank you, Sadie!).  It makes some sense and would be particularly easy to do in counties like the one I live in (Alameda, CA) which include a major inner city (Oakland) and large suburbs (Fremont, Union City, Hayward).  It would be a bit harder to do in counties like San Francisco, which are coterminous with the city.  But, I suppose a “region”could contain several counties, such as the entire San Francisco Bay Area, which already has several multi-county governmental units in place.  Your reactions?

Does Obama Want to Abolish and Loot the Suburbs?

by Keith Koffler on August 1, 2012, 2:49 pm
A provocative and interesting piece by Stanley Kurtz in the National Review suggests that one of the ways President Obama is seeking to “spread the wealth around” is to snatch the taxes paid by those who have “made it” and moved to the outer suburbs and share the loot with their less successful, urban based neighbors.
The effort, Kurtz writes, is falling largely under the radar because it is presented as an environmental and stress-reducing beautification program known as the anti-suburban sprawl movement.
Suburban sprawl theorists argue that the spreading out of populations to the far suburbs abolishes wonderful farmland, wastes land that could be devoted to parks and recreation, results in ugly McMansions, and pollutes because of the distances required driving to work, to the mall, to your friend’s house, and so forth.
The solution is to bunch people into smaller urbanized living areas, suburban sprawl experts say, while expanding public transportation to get them the now shortened distances they need to go.
But Kurtz says these people are really after successful people’s tax dollars, which they will have to share with the less well off neighbors they thought they’d left behind.
I’ll let him explain.
The ultimate goal of the movement . . . is quite literally to abolish the suburbs. Knowing that this could never happen through outright annexation by nearby cities, they’ve developed ways to coax suburbs to slowly forfeit their independence.
One approach is to force suburban residents into densely packed cities by blocking development on the outskirts of metropolitan areas, and by discouraging driving with a blizzard of taxes, fees, and regulations.
Step two is to move the poor out of cities by imposing low-income-housing quotas on development in middle-class suburbs.
Step three is to export the controversial “regional tax-base sharing” scheme currently in place in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area to the rest of the country. Under this program, a portion of suburban tax money flows into a common regional pot, which is then effectively redistributed to urban, and a few less well-off “inner-ring” suburban, municipalities.
Obama, Kurtz says, supports this agenda, and would focus on it during a second term, once he has collected the votes of the very suburban soccer moms he wants to urbanize.

Watcher’s nominations

Some good reading on a hot summer day:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Education for the 21st Century

The world is changing rapidly, but our educational system has not kept pace.  Oh, it’s become politically correct.  And it now teaches kids how to use condoms and such.  But I don’t get the feeling that there has been a lot of overarching analysis as to how kids should be educated in the modern world.  Let me ask a few of questions to get things started.

First, what role should the classics play in education today?  Are the writings of dead white men, written hundreds of years ago relevant to the modern world?  Certainly, classic political and mathematical texts will always be relevant.  But what about works of fiction?  The works of Shakespeare, for example, are lovely but they are so old, and their humor so based in his own time, that they need translation to even be understandable.  Should the precious (and, it seems, ever-shrinking) class time be spent on such works.

Second, what role should standardized test play in education?  In thinking about this, I’m reminded of Churchill’s comment that democracy is the worst form of government ever except for all the others.  Standardized tests give a very limited view of what a student actually knows.  Yet, for many purposes, they are better that any other alternative I can think of.   I’m especially fond of the term “teach to the test.”  If what is on the test is what we want our kids to know, what better way to encourage teachers to actually impart that knowledge to the kids than to require them to teach what will be on the test?  Sure, teaching to the test is only effective if the test actually contains what we want our kids to learn, but can’t we define that body of knowledge well enough to give the tests value?

Third, in an earlier thread, someone commented on how teachers still have problems even though class sizes have shrunk.  I must defend the teachers on this one.  In many schools, the students are much more diverse than they were in my day. Many of them don’t speak English as their first language.  A growing number have behavioral problems.  And the most fundamental disciplinary tools have been taken away from the teachers.  My teachers could handle a large number of students because (a) we all spoke English as a first language, (b) most of us came from families that valued education, and (c) if we did get up out of line, the teacher would put us back in line again with a paddling that would get today’s teachers fired, and (d) when we got home, most of us would have gotten paddled again if our teachers reported our problems to our parent.  Even the best teachers have a much tougher job today than my teachers did.

What do you folks think of all of this?  What ideas do you have for K-12 education in the 21st century?

Sadie points out Harry Reid showing off his class

From Sadie:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has launched a blistering verbal assault against William Magwood, a Democratic member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominated by President Obama, calling him a “liar,” a “first-class rat,” and a “s**t-stirrer.”
a “tool of the nuclear industry” and says he’s “unethical” and “incompetent.” The rest of the actual story here at The Hill Via E2 Wire
From DQ:  I admit I am ignorant as to this controversy.  I gather from the article it has to do with a planned nuclear waste storage facility.  What is Reid’s alternative proposal?  What do you folks know about Magwood?  What do you make of this story?

Possible fraud warning!

I received the following e-mail yesterday:



We received a request from to reset your password for your Bank Account at Chase. Your account has been suspended after too many failed login attempts have been made.
You may click on the link below to reactivate your account:

[I've redacted the link]

We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Best regards,

2012 JPMorgan Chase & Co.

I called Chase, who said that this e-mail was not from them. I’d suggest that if you receive something similar you not click on the link. If anyone knows any more about this, please comment below.

Who should Romney pick for Vice-President?

So, Dick Cheney thinks Palin was a bad choice because she wasn’t qualified to be President.  Well, she was more qualified than Obama, having at least served as head of an executive branch before.  In any case, the time is almost upon us for Romney to pick his VP candidate.

Who should he pick?  Who will he pick?  Cheney also said that there were two lists, a long list of people who need to be on the list for political reasons and a much shorter list of seriously considered candidates.  Do you think your favorite candidate is on the long list or the short list?

A ray of hope — Democrats less enthusiastic, Republicans more so

According to Gallup, Democrats are less enthusiastic about the upcoming election than they were in 2004 or 2008 and Republicans are more enthusiastic than in 2008 and equal to 2004. Not surprising, I guess, but a cause for hope, not just in presidential race but in the Congressional races as well.  Sure doesn’t sound like Obama will have much in the way of coattails at least.

How interested are you in the Olympics?

Leaving aside the politics, how interested are you in the Olympics as a sporting event?  How much of it are you going to watch?

I’m completely hooked.  One of the great joys of being retired is having the time to watch as much as I want.  But, then, I love sports generally.  It’s one of the few things which political correctness has not been able to completely destroy.  The best must prove they’re the best; no government can hand them the championship or the gold medal.

The Olympics is the ultimate sports event, in which thousands of athletes from around the world come together to compete in dozens of sports.  I love it.  Well, okay, the judges (in events that are judged) and the officials (in events that are officiated) can ruin everything.  But in 95% of the events, the team or individual who wins will have fully earned the victory.

So, are you hooked, too?  Or could you care less?

Quite a gathering of real Americans

My Dad sends this link along:


P.S.  I’m not computer savvy enough to figure out how to make this slide show play the way it did when Dad sent it, but after it loads (and it takes a while to load) you can see all the slides, anyway.

P.P.S.  I’m told the link doesn’t work for others because you have to have the slides available to load onto your computer.  I have the slides.  Anybody know how I can upload them to someplace where you can view them?  I used to program computers and design computer systems for a living.  But that was 25 years ago.  Now, I’m not even minimally competent.  I’d appreciate any help you can give.

P.P.P.S.  Cheesestick found a way to link that at least loads the slides.  Thank you! They still don’t play as a slideshow, but the slides are great anyway.  Check out the link on his comment and have a look.

Sadie suggests we talk about credit cards (and a whole lot more)

Sadie suggested a number of related topics, all in one post. They are all worth discussing, but I’m most interested in how credit cards affect your buying habits.  Personally, I use cards when they are convenient and pay them off every month so never incur an interest charge.  I’ve had a GM credit card for years and have saved about $5,000 on three vehicles.  Great cars, by the way.  My 2000 LeSabre has 228,00 miles on it and is going strong.  Anyway, here’s Sadie’s suggestion, word for word, and I look forward to your comments:

The link looks at the cost to retailers for a “convenience card” a/k/a credit card.
It comes as no surprise that the cost of swiping has been reflected in the cost of purchasing. Three percent is quite a chunk of money. Wouldn’t we all love to see a 3% return on our checking accounts. The story reminded me of my grandmother, who never had a credit card, paid for everything by cash unless it was a large item and then it was by check for obvious safety reasons. I have a friend who purchases everything and I mean everything by credit card for the sole purpose of “points” and whatever they buy at the end of the year. I, OTOH, prefer to pay for food, gas and sundries with real money – it forces me to think about what I am spending. I reserve credit card purchases for big ticket items, which are far and few between.
My question for the readers: Cash or credit and how and does it affect your spending?
More money thoughts ….
On a larger scale – if the voter actually saw how much money is spent [read: wasted] by elected officials wouldn’t they all be screaming their heads off. I suggest a traveling “money show” on the scale of a old-fashioned Barnum & Bailey Circus. We’re gonna need a really big tent.

Look carefully, there in the bottom left corner is our six-foot tall human, dwarfed by the staggering ocean of money… That’s fifty pallets wide, 100 pallets deep, and two pallets high…. 10,000 pallets of 100 milliion each….. so next time someone talks about a trillion dollar bailout…close your eyes and imagine this warehouse full of money

What defines the American spirit?

When I asked for discussion topics, Marica had an interesting idea (Thanks, Marica):


One more specific thought along those lines would be quotes– written or spoken– from first generation businessman, of any era, although that may be a bit too specific. Another thought would be discussing what we think defines the American spirit. I’m thinking here of this quote from a piece Andrew McCarthy had up at PJMedia a few days ago.

“One of the many great things about Paul Johnson’s magisterial ”” A History of the American People is that he begins that history in the Sixteenth Century. There was an identifiable, culturally distinguishable American People long before there was a Revolutionary War, a Constitution, or a central government. The American People, by their industry and ingenuity, didn’t just build successful businesses… they built the most successful nation in history — and all, somehow, without HUD, Fannie, Freddie, the EPA, OSHA… ”
So, what defines the American Spirit?


The leftist Olympic Opening Ceremonies

Sadie provides us with this account:

Olympic opening ceremony grapples with weighty issues
(AFP)–3 hours ago
LONDON — A celebration of free healthcare, the trade union struggle, the battle for women’s rights and a fleeting lesbian kiss: the Olympics opening ceremony Friday did not shy away from weighty social issues.
Unsurprisingly, the show devised by Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle drew accusations from the British political right that it had strayed into “leftie” issues.
Aidan Burley, a lawmaker from Prime Minister David Cameron’s ruling Conservative party, tweeted: “The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen — more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?”
He followed that with: “Thank God the athletes have arrived! Now we can move on from leftie multi-cultural crap.”
Several people tweeted their support for his comments.
Alastair Campbell, former British Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s communications chief, retorted on Twitter: “Brilliant that we got a socialist to do the opening ceremony.”
Cameron’s Downing Street office distanced itself from Burley’s comments, tweeting a message from the premier reading: “The opening ceremony has been a great showcase for this country. It’s more proof Britain can deliver.”
Burley was removed from his job as aide to the transport minister last month after attending a Nazi-themed stag party in a French ski resort.
Ahead of the show, Boyle — whose film “Slumdog Millionaire” won eight Oscars in 2009 — denied he was pushing a political agenda.
“The sensibility of the show is very personal,” he said.
“A group of us have created it, but we had no agenda other than… values that we feel are true.
“Not everybody will love that but people will be able to recognise as being honest and truthful really. I felt that very strongly. There is no b(expletive) in it, and there is no point-making either.”
The show bringing the curtain up on the London Olympics began with sections showing idyllic rural Britain being overtaken by the Industrial Revolution, before moving on to a 10-minute sequence celebrating the state-run National Health Service (NHS).
Britain’s first televised lesbian kiss — from a 1993 episode of soap opera “Brookside” — was shown in a fast-moving montage of flim and TV clips.
Later in the ceremony, dancers formed the shape of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament badge and other performers represented the struggle of trade union movements.
DQ here — I suppose having been the first to boycott an Olympics, the U.S. is in a poor position to complain about politicization of the games, but one would hope the Opening Ceremony, anyway, would not serve such a blatant political end.  Somewhat more generally, please share your thoughts about the Olympics in general and these in particular.

What do you make of Romney’s comments on problems with Olympic security?

Romney finds himself in a bit of hot water after going to London and criticizing the Olympic security he found there.  The British Prime Minister, and other Brits, took exception to the remarks.  Romney thus found out the hard way what he should have already known — even when something is absolutely true, the wisest policy is often to refrain from saying it.

Of course, Romney is retreating and all will end in smiley faces.  But does this rather surprising (to me, anyway) bit of tact and common sense illustrate a deeper problem?  Shouldn’t someone with Romney’s experience have known better?  Shouldn’t he have been better prepared by his advisors?

Would you like a little politics with that sandwich?

Liberals always get terribly bent out of shape when anyone dares to offer an opinion not completely consistent with liberal orthodoxy. If that person happens to be in business, liberals reflexively do everything possible to take their revenge against the business.  The reaction to comments by Chick-fil-A’s president illustrates the point.  How dare he oppose gay marriage!  He should be put out of business!

As the linked article explains:  “A Chicago alderman vowed to block a Chick-fil-A proposed in his district, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported him, saying, ‘Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.’ Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wrote in a letter to Cathy: ‘There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it.’”

Conservatives tend not to react with such outrage, but, then, conservatives tend to believe in free speech, while liberals value political correctness more highly.  Personally, I think that Chick-fil-A’s president has every right to speak out and those who disagree have every right to dissociate themselves from Chick-fil-A.  But I believe politicians go too far when they attempt to surpress speach they disagree with, by such acts as blocking a company from doing business in their district because of the comments of its president (or board members, or founder or anybody else).  What do you think?

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Caped Crusader suggests that we each ”comment on the most memorable quotes and/or advice we have personally heard or received during our lives; not something we have read.”

I think this is a terrific idea, so I’m asking you four you help, instead of providings thoughts for the day today.  Unfortunately, I’ve drawn a complete blank as to my own experience.  I’ll bet you can do better.

What makes us think God is perfect?

Bookworm posted a discussion of the Episcopal Church’s tacit admission that God isn’t perfect.  That raises the question:  Why should we believe He is?

Assume there is a God.  Personally, I’m skeptical, but assume it.  Assume God created the universe.  This replaces a great mystery (where the universe came from) with an even greater mystery (where God came from), but assume it.  Assume that God is still actively and personally involved in the creation of each of us individually.  I don’t see a lot of evidence of that, but assume it.

If those assumptions are true, then God is a pretty powerful fellow.  But does that make Him perfect?  After all, we are fond of saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  God has the ultimate absolute power.  How do we know He has not been ultimately corrupted?  Even if He hasn’t been, how do we know that he never makes mistakes?  Just because He has the power to create a human being, it doesn’t follow that He has the power to create each of them exactly as he wants them.  Returning to the subject of Bookworm’s post, even if He could create every person exactly as He wanted them to be, who is to say He doesn’t want to put men in women’s bodies and women in men’s bodies? Maybe He’s just playing with us.  Maybe He’s just experimenting to see how we’ll react.  After all, it is a basic tenant of Episcopal faith that He creates each of us as an imperfect creature. Maybe this is just another imperfection that He quite intentionally, not mistakenly at all, put into some of us.  Why do we automatically assume this was a mistake?

Anyway, why should we think that God is perfect in His power, or even good in His intentions?  How do we know?  What evidence is there, either way?

What would you like to talk about (Sadie suggests auditing the Fed)

Sadie suggested to me that we talk about Ron Paul’s effort to audit the Fed.  I’m not clear on what such an audit would involve.  What do you folks think?

As always when Bookworm is away it is your intelligent, insightful, informative comments that make this blog worth reading.  So, as always, and as I should have already done, I’m asking for suggestions.  What would you folks like to talk about during the next two weeks?