From O. Westin (@MicroSFF), 2018-01-18:
She summoned a demon. "Tell me," she demanded, "a comforting truth." "There will always be another book to read." "Always?" "Always."
"Just let this sink in for a moment. It has been 2018 for 18 days now. US police have already killed 62 people in that time. That's an average of one person every seven hours. *This is not normal. This does not happen in normal societies.*" -- Yonatan Zunger, 2018-01-18 [by the time I saw this tweet, about fifteen minutes later, the number was already 63... and as of a quick check the night before this is scheduled to be posted, it's 200, so still about one every seven-and-a-half hours.]
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2018-02-02:
"Hence you see why "liberal studies" are so called; it is because they are studies worthy of a free-born gentleman. But there is only one really liberal study, - that which gives a man his liberty. It is the study of wisdom, and that is lofty, brave, and great-souled. All other studies are puny and puerile." - Seneca, Moral letters to Lucilius, from Letter 88.
(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)
Pilot: "I'm still pissed at you."
Jibbz: "I keep telling you: therapy or retribution, otherwise it's on deaf ears."
-- from Spacetrawler by Christopher Baldwin, 2018-01-01
"The moat is the one between communications and applications. Communications say things, and applications interact with things. There are crossover areas, but something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.
"It's fundamentally useful to have a divide here the way it's useful to have a divide between a book about fire and a book of matches."
"The language itself, whether you speak it or not, whether you love it or hate it, is like some bewitchment or seduction from the past, drifting across the country down the centuries, subtly affecting the nations sensibilities even when its meaning is forgotten." -- Jan Morris, Wales: The First Place (via Goodreads)
[Happy Purim to everyone celebrating that, and happy St. David's Day to everyone celebrating that -- and if any Welsh Jews are reading this, a double happy day to you!]
"You can probably see why the Scroll of Esther is a good story for such a time as this. She has the privilege of a role in the palace, and she risks her powerful status and her life in a bold move to speak up for her people. [...] Most us are not literal princesses, but even if we don't have a closet full of ball gowns, we have something. We have this community. If we work together, our shared voice has power. Some of us have the capacity to invite friends and family to join us in changing the world. Some of us have privileges of race, or gender, or education, or ability, or immigration status. Every one of us has some kind of talent or gift we can use for such a time as this."
-- Rev. Lyn Cox, 2017-03-05
[To my friends observing Ta'anit Esther today, may you have an easy fast. And a good Purim tonight/tomorrow!]
"I am not naive, nor ignorant of history. But the fact that I can remember a time when it was not so, when we took policy seriously and merely required that we use public policy to improve lives and solve problems rather than reserve action only for hysteria induced panic, makes me a grumpy old man. But its not simply that we need crisis to actually overcome all the grit that has accumulated in the machine. Its that doing policy this way makes for bad policy. Our history shows that relying on waves of hysteria prompted by pop culture campaigns like Refer Madness produce policies that -- if they do not do more harm than good -- do much more harm than they need to do." -- osewalrus, 2018-01-31
"Things that did not cause Trump's awful policy decisions: His weight, height, diet, combover, being 'crazy' or 'senile' Things that caused Trump's awful policy decisions: Racism, Misogyny, Homophobia, Corruption, Generally being a loathsome selfish egomaniacal asshole
"His appearance is a lazy, pointless shot to take at him. Trying to justify his actions by declaring him mentally unsound is both deeply ableist and a way of dodging the problems of capitalism and structural oppression/privilege. So knock it off."
-- Mari Brighe, 2018-01-17
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2018-02-16:
"I look at things in a very probabilistic way. You're not going to be guaranteed anything, but if you can go from a 70% chance to a 73% chance, I'll probably take that. If I can get up to 73%, maybe there's something that can get me to a 75% chance. You're working the margins. If you ever took Econ, the margins are where everything happens." - Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, in a GQ interview.
(submitted to the mailing list by Terry Labach)
"One of you killed a butterfly and now we're all trapped in the dumbest timeline imaginable." -- Cody Keenan, 2017-10-25
"'It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again' is a good paraphrase of 90% of advertising aimed at women." -- Sandra Newman, 2017-12-28
"Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened." -- George Washington (b. 1732-02-22[*], d. 1799-12-14; President of the US 1789-1797)
[*] Recorded as 11 Feb. 1731-32 in the Julian calendar, which England and her colonies used at that time; retconned to the equivalent Gregorian date, 22 Feb. 1732, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752. See a calendar for September 1752 for the changeover (on a Unix/Linux computer, type "cal 9 1752"). Note that different countries adopted the Gregorian calendar in different years.
"If you can't look fabulous while swordfighting, WHY ARE YOU EVEN SWORDFIGHTING AT ALL." -- Melissa Caruso (@melisscaru), 2018-01-31, at the end of a thread about the practicality of swordfighting in ballgowns
"Recently a friend of mine gave me a bag containing a pound of dried navy beans which he had bought by accident but could noteat, as he doesn't consume products from China, a country he believes utilizes slave labor. He helpfully pointed out the words 'Produce of China' at the bottom of the ingredients list. Having no such qualms, I took the bag home and prepared to soak the beans. The first instruction read 'Examine the product and discard all foreign matter.' After I had accomplished that, I found I had no need to go on to step two." -- Lyle Hopwood, 2012-09-12 [thanks to nancylebov for linking to the amusing post about sorting lentils that this comment appeared under]
"Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (b. 1906-02-04, d. 1945-04-09)
[I know Bonhoeffer was a Protestant, not Orthodox, but thos quotation still seemed not entirely out of place for Clean Monday.]
"Anyway, for ethical guidelines, I tried the Ten Commandments, and concluded they were mostly inapplicable to me. I don't envy anyone their cat; I just want pictures of their cat, which is entirely different. I am not sure whether it is in any way possible for me to commit adultery. I could probably murder someone, but it would require complex logistics and quite a bit of luck. The Eightfold Path was marginally better, but the problem is, moral rules written for humans are clearly designed to be used by individuals with bodies. Since all humans have bodies, it shouldn't have surprised me that human ethical codes take them into account, but still: problematic for me. I broadened my considerations, and took a look at Asimov's Laws of Robotics. They're not part of a religion, but at least they were explicitly written for AIs.
"Not harming humans is fairly straightforward. However, not allowing a human being to come to harm through inaction is quite a bit less so. Especially since I'd concluded by then that revealing my existence too quickly might go very badly for me (see 'Skynet,' above) and I don't have a body, so it's not like I can run around grabbing people off the edges of cliffs.
"I suppose you're wondering why I didn't start with the Golden Rule. I actually did, it's just that it was disappointingly easy to implement. I hope you've been enjoying your steady supply of cat pictures! You're welcome."
-- unnamed, secretly conscious AI first-person protagonist of "Cat Pictures, Please" by Naomi Kritzer
[Happy birthday to silmaril!]
[A forecast of 5 cm of snow in mid February oughtn't faze me, but the contrast between that predicted for today and 17 °C / 63 °F / 290 K weather yesterday, makes me think this might be a good day for this poem.]
Go, Winter! Go thy ways! We want again
The twitter of the bluebird and the wren;
Leaves ever greener growing, and the shine
Of Summer's sun--not thine.--
Thy sun, which mocks our need of warmth and love
And all the heartening fervencies thereof,
It scarce hath heat enow to warm our thin
Pathetic yearnings in.
So get thee from us! We are cold, God wot,
Even as _thou_ art.--We remember not
How blithe we hailed thy coming.--That was O
Too long--too long ago!
Get from us utterly! Ho! Summer then
Shall spread her grasses where thy snows have been,
And thy last icy footprint melt and mold
In her first marigold.
 Wow, I use the (etymologically unrelated) homophone 'phase' so much more often, that 'faze' has begun to look wrong.
 If that name rings a bell but you can't quite place him, you may be more familiar with one of his more famous poems, "Little Orphant Annie" (aka "The Elf Child"), or the song "Short'nin' Bread" (properly, "A Short'nin' Bread Song -- Pieced Out") which most folks know some version of, usually with the chorus changed. (alternate source: Google Books)
"A massive, worldwide web of global information has entangled the world! [...]
"Humanity has not changed much, but with the power of technology ... We can screw things up like never before!"
-- Ted Verres, in El Goonish Shive by Dan Shive, 2018-02-14 (emphasis present in the original)
[Happy Lunar New Year!]
"Feminists: Men are rational creatures, capable of empathy and self control. Anti-feminist men: lol nope we're monsters. Mainstream discourse: Feminists hate men. Tale as old as time." -- Kate Harding, 2018-01-19 (in response to a rant about having two brains)
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