The Shoulders Of Giants

Letter From A Birmingham Jail – Martin Luther King, Jr.

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. (more…)

Excerpt from “War Crimes”

(Sometimes, we need to take a break and appreciate the wonderful things we’ve been given over the years.  Today, I’d like to remind you of the glorious yet fictional legacy of that greatest of presidents, Josiah Bartlet, master of oratory and unparalleled leader of the Free World.  The following was excerpted from The West Wing, episode:  “War Crimes”.  Enjoy.)

CHARLIE:  How was church?

BARTLET:  [mumbles] It sucked.

ABBEY:  It was fine. [to Bartlet] Stop it!

BARTLET:  It sucked!

ABBEY:  [sighs] You’re talking about church.

BARTLET:  Oh, like I’m not already going to hell. (more…)

On Computer Bugs

Little-known (and apocryphal) trivia: The first recorded computer “bug” was a processing error caused by a dead moth that had been caught inside a relay, blocking the switch.

This story is both true and false.  The insect existed, and in point of fact has been preserved as part of the collection at the National Museum of American History, but the term “bug” was in common use for many years before the moth was found in 1946.  Here are some other bugs that have been found and preserved as a part of my own collection:


Angels 8 Riot Feed, from Transmetropolitan

“Y’see, they say journalism is the art of controlling your environment, but that’s all wrong.  I can’t control anything with this typewriter.  All this is, is a gun… It’s only got one bullet in it, but if you aim right, that’s all you need.  Aim it right, and you can blow a kneecap off the world.”

Spider Jerusalem, Transmetropolitan:  Back On The Street (more…)

Ian Malcolm On Science, by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park as a morality tale.  A lot of his fiction is like that; he created a brilliant story to act as a frame for his statements on a logical position, usually an unpopular one.  This novel was meant as a modern Frankenstein tale, and his argument can be read in the words of Ian Malcolm.

It should be remembered that Malcolm’s words do not necessarily reflect the actual views of Mr. Crichton.  They were the thoughts of a character, and they were designed not to convince us of anything in particular so much as to make us think.

We’ve become so used to people telling us what to think that we often neglect to do so for ourselves.  The following, therefore, are several examples of unconventional yet curiously logical perspectives.


WALDEN (an excerpt), by Henry David Thoreau


When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized life again.

I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what (more…)