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25 best things ever said

Just for fun, and interest, here is my list of the 25 best things ever said.

Not in order, except for the last one, which is my favorite

 25.  If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.

   — Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973)

(I have seen this attributed to Truman, as well)

 24. The legitimate powers of government extend only to such acts as are injurious to others It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

   — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) (quoting or paraphrasing John Locke)

 23.  I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

   — Galileo Galilei

 22. To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.

   — Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

 21. When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.

   — Desiderius Erasmus (1465-1536)

20. It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

   — Epictetus (c.55-c.135)

19.  He who joyfully marches to music 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 fully suffice.

   — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

18.  An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

17.    No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.

   — John Donne (1572-1631), Meditation XVII

16.  If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

   — Noam Chomsky (b. 1928)

15.  My Country, right or wrong” is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case.  It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober

   — Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

14.  I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution.

 — Barbara Jordan

13.  The gods are amused when the busy river condemns the idle clouds

 —  Rabindranath Tagore

12. Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

   — Niels Bohr (1885-1962)

11.   Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.  It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

   — William Pitt (1759-1806)

10.  Pain shared is lessened, joy shared, increased

   — Spider Robinson

9.  The good old days.  I was there.  Where was they?

  — Moms Mabley 1894-1975

8. All models are wrong but some are useful.

   — George Box

7.   The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” but “That’s funny…”

   — Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

6. That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.

    — Hillel

5.  If I am not for myself, who is for me?

   If I am for myself alone, what am I?

   If not now, when?

 —  Hillel

4.  Those who would give up a little freedom to get a little security shall soon have neither

 — Benjamin Franklin

3.  If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let each man march to his own rhythm, however measured, or far away

 — H. D. Thoreau

2. There is nothing so horrible in nature as to see a beautiful theory murdered by an ugly gang of facts

  — Benjamin Franklin

and, my favorite

1.    Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people’s souls, when we all ought to be worried abut our own souls, and other people’s bellies

Rabbi Israel Salanter 1810-1883

Together or apart? Win or lose? The “my group” game

(edited and cross posted from big O, where it got little attention)

Some people like playing the “my group” game.  It’s an interesting game, because everyone who plays, loses.  Not only that, but they make people who aren’t playing lose, too.

The game consists in trying to decide which group of people got screwed the worst.

You can start off like this….

The Blacks got screwed the worst! Slavery!

The Jews got screwed the worst! Shoah!

The gays got screwed the worst! No marriage!

The women got screwed the worst! No vote until 1920!

and you can write one for your group, whatever group it is; heck, there are even folks who say that men, Whites, and Christians have it badly (really!).  And then you can have another round, and then we can start yelling at each other.  Then you can get into which group got dissed by Obama (or Biden).    

You can

I won’t.

What are you reading?

First, the request: I need someone to fill in for me next week (April 11) I also need someone for April 25.  On April 11 I will be guest host Frugal Fridays (at dailyKos); on April 25 I will be out of town

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights

pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights, but it’s on hiatus

What are you reading? is crossposted to dailyKos

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know.  In two weeks, I am thinking of “books that explain America”

What are you reading?

The usual list, this time, as I will be out a lot today.

If you would like to guest host on April 11, please let me know.  I will be guest hosting Frugal Fridays.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights

pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights, but it’s on hiatus

What are you reading? is crossposted to docudharma

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know.  Next week, I am thinking of “books that explain America”

Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh.  What an annoying book.  Singh has a problem: He doesn’t understand Wiles’ proof of the theorem.  That’s not his fault….maybe 100 people on Earth understand it.  I certainly don’t.  But he is to blame for, e.g., getting facts wrong, and his overly gushy writing turns me off.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson.  Stunningly good.  This is really three  or four novels, tied together.  It all does connect.  Novel 1 is set at the time of WW 2, and follows Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, and his friend Alan Turing, in efforts to decode German and Japanese codes, and do other neat stuff (fall in love….).  Novel 2 also takes place in WW 2, and features Goto Dengo, an honorable and intelligent Japanese soldier, placed in intolerable situations by the exigencies of war.  Novel 3 (or 2A) is also in WW 2, and follows the adventures of Bobby Shaftoe, a gung ho marine.  Novel 4 is in the near future, and features Avi, who wants to create a data-haven (and use the profits for a very good and interesting cause) – one of his colleagues is Randy Waterhouse (grandson of Lawrence) who is in love with America Shaftoe (grand-daughter of Bobby); one of his investors is Goto Dengo, now an old and very rich businessman.

Along the way we learn about cryptography, geology, mining, spying, mathematics….. along with the old standbys like the nature of love, duty, and honor.  

My third time through this huge book.  It won’t be my last.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  A fascinating and very well-written biography of a fascinating man (hey, get this! He thought Black people might be as smart as Whites….he opposed slavery….he fought valiantly in the Revolution….)

Gaming the vote: Why elections aren’t fair (and what we can do about it) by William Poundstone.  Fascinating.  This isn’t about cheating or hanging chads or butterfly ballots, it’s about fundamental flaws in our system of voting, and proposed alternatives.

some technical stuff:

Digital Dice: Computational solutions to practical probability problems by Paul Nahin

Lattice: Multivariate data visualization with R by Deepayan Sarkar.  Sarkar won a prize for writing Lattice, now he’s explained how to use it.

Congressional races round 2: North Carolina, North Dakota

Continuing through the alphabet

North Carolina has 13 representatives: 7 Republicans and 6 Democrats

The filing deadline was Feb 29, primary is May 6

North Dakota has 1 representative: A Democrat

Filing deadline is April 11, primary is June 10

What are you reading? fiction and nonfiction

Something a little different today, below the fold.  But first

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

What are you reading? is crossposted to dailyKos

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know  

Congressional races round 2: New York

continuing through the alphabet

NY has 29 representatives: 23 Democrats and 6 Republicans (5 of whom are on the DCCC list

Filing deadline is July 17, primary is Sept 9

Congressional races round 2: New Jersey and New Mexico

District: NJ-01

Location A T shaped district in southwestern NJ, bordering PA and a tiny bit of DE

Representative Robert Andrews (D) may retire to run for senate

First elected 1990

2006 margin unopposed

2004 margin 75-25

Bush margin 2004 39-61

Notes on opponents In 2004, Daniel Hutchison raised $200K to Andrews $800K

Current opponents No declared Republicans

Demographics Not unusual on what I track

Assessment Safe for Democrats

District: NJ-02

Location Southernmost NJ, on the Delaware Bay and Atlantic

Representative Frank LoBiondo (R)

First elected  1994

2006 margin 62-36

2004 margin 65-33

Bush margin 2004 50-49

Notes on opponents neither raised money

Current opponents None declared

Demographics Not unusual on what I track

Assessment Long shot

District: NJ-03

Location The southernmost of several CDs that stretch east-west across NJ, this one from the Atlantic to PA.

Representative Jim Saxton (R) retiring

First elected  1984

2006 margin 58-41

2004 margin 63-35

Bush margin 2004 51-49

Notes on opponents In 2006, Rich Sexton raised $161K to Saxton’s $1.3 million

Current opponents John Adler

Demographics 20th fewest in poverty (5.1%)

Assessment Vulnerable.  With Saxton out, this swing district is prime pickup territory.  It’s on the DCCC list , and superribbie ranks it the most vulnerable seat.

District: NJ-04

Location Another east west strip, more or less in the middle of the state, including Trenton.  Bordering PA and the Atlantic

Representative Christopher Smith (R)

First elected  1980

2006 margin 66-33

2004 margin 67-32

Bush margin 2004 56-44

Notes on opponents Neither raised much

Current opponents Josh Zeitz

Demographics 63rd highest income (median = $54K)

Assessment Slightly vulnerable superribbie ranks this 77 of all Republican seats

District: NJ-05

Location Northernmost NJ, bordering PA and NY, including NYC suburbs

Representative Scott Garrett (R)

First elected  2002

2006 margin 55-44

2004 margin 58-41

Bush margin 2004 57-43

Notes on opponents Each raised about $500K, Garrett about $1 million in each

Current opponents Dennis Shulman and

Camille Abate

Demographics 6th highest income (median = $73K), 55th fewest Blacks (1.5%)

Assessment Somewhat vulnerable. superribbie ranks this 55th of all Republican seats.  Garrett’s winning percentage is shrinking, he did no better than Bush in 04, and that won’t be enough in ’08.

District: NJ-06

Location A strange, thready district, running from a NYC suburb (Plainfield) south and east to Long Beach and then south to Asbury Park

Representative Frank Pallone (D)

First elected  1988

2006 margin 69-30

2004 margin 67-31

Bush margin 2004 43-57

Notes on opponents Neither raised money

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 67th highest income (median = $56K)

Assessment Safe

District: NJ-07

Location Another strange shape, running east west, but shaped like the Greek letter ?.

Representative Michael Ferguson (R) retiring

First elected  2000

2006 margin 49-48

2004 margin 57-42

Bush margin 2004 53-47

Notes on opponents In 2006, Linda Stender raised $1.9 million to Ferguson’s $3 million; in 2004, Steve Brozak raised $800K to Ferguson’s $2.8 million

Current opponents Linda Stender is running again, as is Upendra Chivakula and a few Republicans

Demographics 4th wealthiest (median income = $75K)

Assessment Vulnerable. superribbie ranks this 8th of all Republican seats, and it’s on the DCCC list .  This is a competitive race near NYC, so all you NYC kossacks with time on your hands… this is a spot (but don’t ignore our own Vito Fosella, NY-13). Prime pickup material – Stender almost beat a fairly moderate Republican incumbent.  

District: NJ-08

Location More NYC suburbs, including Wayne, Patterson, and West Orange

Representative Bill Pascrell (D)

First elected   1996

2006 margin 71-28

2004 margin 69-29

Bush margin 2004 41-59

Notes on opponents In 2006, Jose Sandoval raised $200K to Pascrell’s $1 million; in 2004, George Aijan raised $100K to Pascrell’s $900K

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 41st fewest veterans 8.3%)

Assessment Safe

District: NJ-09

Location Close NYC suburbs

Representative Steve Rothman (D)

First elected  1996

2006 margin 71-28

2004 margin 68-32

Bush margin 2004 41-59

Notes on opponents Neither raised much

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 48th fewest veterans (8.6%)

Assessment safe

District: NJ-10

Location Newark, and some NYC suburbs

Representative Donald Payne (D)

First elected  1988

2006 margin unopposed

2004 margin No major party opposition

Bush margin 2004 18-82

Notes on opponents NA

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 25th fewest Whites (56.4%), 16th most Blacks (21.4%), 15th most Democratic

Assessment Safe

District: NJ-11

Location Central northern NJ, including Dover

Representative Rodney Freylinghuysen (R)

First elected  1994

2006 margin 62-37

2004 margin 68-31

Bush margin 2004 58-42

Notes on opponents Neither raised money

Current opponents Tom Wyka , who lost in 2006

Demographics 2nd highest income (median = $79K)

Assessment Long shot

District: NJ-12

Location Another east west strip, from north of Trenton (on the PA border) to NYC suburbs in the east, and almost to the Atlantic

Representative Rush Holt (D)

First elected 1998

2006 margin 66-34

2004 margin 59-40

Bush margin 2004 46-54

Notes on opponents In 2004, Bill Spadea raised $350K to Holt’s $1.6 million.  In 2006, Joseph Sinagra raised little

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 15th highest median income ($70K)

Assessment Almost totally safe

District: NJ-13

Location Yet another strange shaped district, this one runs north-south along the Hudson River and the Atlantic, with a gap

Representative Albio Sires (D)

First elected  2006 (special election to replace Menendez, who became Senator)

2006 margin 78-19 (regular election)

2004 margin NA

Bush margin 2004 31-69

Notes on opponents None raised money

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 12th fewest veterans (5.4%), 51st fewest Whites (32.3%), 26th most Latinos (47.6%), 27th most Democratic

Assessment Safe

District: NM-01

Location Albuquerque and suburbs, and some desert

Representative Heather Wilson (R) probably retiring to run for Senate

First elected  1998

2006 margin 861 votes out of 211,000

2004 margin 54-46

Bush margin 2004 48-51

Notes on opponents In 2004, Richard Romero raised $2 million to Wilson’s $3.4 million; in 2006, Patricia Madrid raised $3.3 million to Wilson’s $5 million

Current opponents Martin Heinrich ; Rebecca Vigil-Giron ; Jessica Wolfe ; Robert Pidcock are the Democrats

Demographics 86th fewest Whites (48.5%),  92nd fewest Blacks (2.3%), 32nd most Latinos (42.6%)

Assessment Very vulnerable. superribbie  ranks it the 4th most vulnerable Republican seat, and it’s on the DCCC list .

District: NM-02

Location The southern half of NM, bordering AZ, TX, and Mexico

Representative Steve Pearce (R) probably retiring to run for Senate

First elected  2002

2006 margin 59-40

2004 margin 60-40

Bush margin 2004 58-41

Notes on opponents In 2004, Gary King raised $1.1 million to Pearce’s $2 million; in 2006, Albert Kissling raised $180K to Pearce’s $1.3 million

Current opponents Bill McCamley who wrote on Daily Kos

Albert Kissling , the 2006 candidate, and  

Frank McKinnon are the Democrats

Demographics 20th lowest income (median = $29K), 73rd fewest Whites (44.3%), 60th fewest Blacks (1.6%), 29th most Latinos (47.3%)

Assessment Vulnerable, superribbie ranks it the 28th most vulnerable Republican seat, and it’s on the DCCC list

District: NM-03

Location Northern half of NM, including Santa Fe, bordering AZ, CO, OK, and TX, and touching corners with UT.

Representative Tom Udall (D) retiring to run for Senate

First elected  1998

2006 margin 75-25

2004 margin 69-31

Bush margin 2004 45-54

Notes on opponents Neither raised money

Current opponents Don Wiviott

Benny Shendo

Harry Montoya

Ben Lujan


Rudy Martin

are the Democrats

Demographics 68th fewest Whites (41.4%), 36th fewest Blacks (1.1%), 38th most Latinos (36.3%), 14th most nonWhite, nonBlack, nonLatino (mostly 18.9% Native American)

Assessment Slightly vulnerable. superribbie ranks it the 30th most vulnerable Democratic seat  

Congressional races round 2: Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire

Nebraska has 3 representatives: All Republican

Filing deadline was March 3, primary is May 13

Nevada has 3 representatives: 2 Republican, 1 Democrat

Filing deadline is May 16, primary is Aug 12

New Hampshire has 2 representatives: Both Democrats

Filing deadline is June 13, primary is Sept 9

Congressional races round 2: Mississippi, Missouri, Montana

Continuing through the alphabet….

Mississippi has 4 representatives: 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans

The filing deadline was Jan 11, and the primary was on March 11

Missouri has 9 representatives: 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats

Filing deadline is March 25, primary is Aug 5

Montana has one representative, a Republican

Filing deadline is March 20, primary is June 3

What are you reading? Science Fiction

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

cfk has bookflurries on Weds. nights

pico has literature for kossacks on Tues. nights, but it’s on hiatus

What are you reading? is crossposted to dailyKos

If you have ideas for future weeks, let me know (one idea is Fiction vs. nonfiction, I may do that next week)

Science fiction is my favorite fiction genre.  The book that turned me from someone who knows how to read into someone who reads a LOT was Maeline L’Engle’s  A Wrinkle in Time, which is really from the sister-genre of fantasy.  I devoured Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke in my teens.  The ‘big three’ are still classic, but I’ve got some other favorites, too.

John Varley.  Varley writes amazingly well, he has interesting ideas.  He likes to surprise the reader, not by smacking you in the head when you least expect it, but in more subtle ways.  Persistence of Vision, for example, is a short story about a post-apocalyptic world, and it’s a lovely, gentle, moving piece.   Press Enter, is a short story about the near future, and it is as scary as anything.  Many of his novels are set in a world where mankind has been wiped out on Earth, and survives only in the rest of the solar system, but in none of those novels is that the main theme.  He also likes to mess about with sexual roles.  

Neal Stephenson.  Some of what Stephenson writes is SF and no question about it.  Snow Crash, or the Diamond Age, are SF novels.  Other of his work is more ambiguously SF.  I am re-reading Cryptonomicon, and it’s hard to say that this is really SF, but it feels like SF.  The Baroque Cycle is more clearly not SF, but still involves a lot of things that SF often does.  

Terry Pratchett.  Discworld!  His early books are good, some are very good indeed.  Small Gods is a hysterical send-up of religion and fanaticism.  But they get better.  He takes on big social issues, and stays funny.  Monstrous Regiment takes on sexism and the military.  Thud! takes on racism and bigotry (as does Jingo).  (By the way, the Discworld, shaped like  disk, floats through the universe on the back of four big elephants, who stand on a giant turtle).

Robert Heinlein.  OK, his politics (a sort of libertarianism) gets in the way of his writing, especially in his later work, but man, can the guy tell a story.

Theodore Sturgeon.

Samuel Delaney.  Some of his books are, IMHO, unreadable (e.g. Dhalgren).  Others are great (e.g. Babel 17).

There are others whom I like: Nancy Kress, Charles Stross, Connie Willis….) but let’s get to the comments

Congressional races round 2: Minnesota

Continuing through the alphabet….

Minnesota has 8 representatives: 5 Democrats and 3 Republicans

Filing deadline is July 15, primary is Sept. 9

District: MN-01

Location Southern MN, bordering WI, IA, and SD

Representative Tim Walz (D)

First elected  2006

2006 margin 53-37

2004 margin NA

Bush margin 2004 51-47

Notes on opponents Walz ousted Gutknecht while raising $500 K less

Current opponents Dick Day, Mark Meyer, Brian Davis

Demographics 77th most rural (43.5%), 31st fewest Blacks (1.0%)

Assessment Somewhat vulnerable; Superribbie ranks this the 17th most vulnerable Democratic seat; still, Walz has to be favored.  

District: MN-02

Location Southern suburbs and exurbs of twin cities

Representative John Kline (R)

First elected  2002

2006 margin 56-40

2004 margin 56-40

Bush margin 2004 54-45

Notes on opponents In 2006, Collen Rowley raised $700K to Kline’s $1.5 million; in 2004, Teresa Daly raised $1.2 million to Kline’s $1.6 million

Current opponents Steve Sarvi

Demographics 36th highest income (median = $61K), 10th fewest in poverty (3.9%), 60th fewest Blacks (1.6%)

Assessment Possible.  Superribbie calls the 69th most vulnerable Republican seat.  I think it might be more vul. than that.  Kline’s winning percentage isn’t rising with time, he did barely better than Bush in 2004.

District: MN-03

Location Suburbs of the twin cities

Representative Jim Ramstad (R) possibly retiring

First elected  1990

2006 margin 65-35

2004 margin 65-35

Bush margin 2004 51-48

Notes on opponents Neither recent opponent had money

Current opponents :

Terri Bonoff

Ashwin Madia

and former Repub: Jim Hovland

Demographics 26th wealthiest (median income = $64K), 5th fewest in poverty (3.5%),  80th fewest Black (3.8%)

Assessment So far as I can tell, Ramstad is retiring, making this a prime pickup opportunity; superribbie ranks this as the 12th most vulnerable Republican seat.

District: MN-04

Location St. Paul and suburbs

Representative  Betty McCollum (D)

First elected  2000

2006 margin 70-30

2004 margin 57-33

Bush margin 2004 37-62

Notes on opponents In 2004, Patrice Bataglia raised $200K to McCollum’s $700K; in 2006, Obi Sium raised $75K to McCollum’s $600K

Current opponents John Mayer, possibly others. Mayer seems to have no website, others’ sites are down

Demographics Not unusual on what I track

Assessment  Safe

District: MN-05

Location Minneapolis and suburbs

Representative Keith Ellison (D)

First elected  2006

2006 margin 56-21 (remainder to an independent)

2004 margin NA

Bush margin 2004 28-71

Notes on opponents Tammy Lee actually raised more money than the Republican (Alan Fine) and got almost the same number of votes.  Each raised about $200K, Ellison raised about $800K

Current opponents Apparently Barb White, who also might be running in MN-04, or maybe not running at all

Demographics 45th most Democratic, per Cook PVI

Assessment Safe

District: MN-06

Location Mostly in central MN, but extending east and south to the WI border

Representative Michele Bachmann (R)

First elected  2006

2006 margin 50-42 (remainder to John Binkowski)

2004 margin NA

Bush margin 2004 57-42

Notes on opponents Bachmann beat out Wetterling for an open seat. Each spent about $3 million – Bachmann a little less, Wetterling a little more

Current opponents :

Bob Olson and

Elwyn Tinklenberg

Demographics 53rd highest income (median = $57K), 18th fewest in poverty (4/7%), 18th most Whites (94.9%), 28th fewest Blacks (0.9%), 42nd fewest Latinos (1.3%)

Assessment We have definite possibilities.  superribbie  (link above) ranks this the 45th most vulnerable Republ

District: MN-07

Location Western MN, bordering SD and ND and Canada

Representative Collin Peterson (D)

First elected  1990

2006 margin 70-29

2004 margin 66-34

Bush margin 2004 55-43

Notes on opponents In 2004, David Sturrock raised $125K to Peterson’s $500K.  In 2006, Michael Barrett raised little

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 6th most rural (66%), 22nd most Whites (93.1%), tied for fewest Blacks (0.3%)

Assessment I don’t call a lot of people DINO, but Peterson is a DINO.  Still, he wins, he doesn’t use a lot of money, and he lines up on the D side, and this is a Republican district

District: MN-08

Location Northeastern MN, bordering WI, Lake Superior, and Canada, including Duluth and International Falls

Representative Jim Oberstar (D)

First elected  1974

2006 margin 64-34

2004 margin 65-32

Bush margin 2004 46-53

Notes on opponents In 2006, Rod Grams raised $500K to Oberstar’s $1.4 million; the 2004 opponent raised little

Current opponents None declared

Demographics 12th most rural (62.6%), 34th most veterans (16.2%), 20th most Whites (94.6%), 11th fewest Blacks (0.5%), 11th fewest Latinos (0.8%)

Assessment safe

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