06 March 2022
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Sigh. Just Sigh


P.J. O'Rourke died a few weeks ago. He, along with Tom Clancy, Dave Barry, and John LeCarre, were mentioned as admired authors in my very first blog. Tom Clancy died almost a decade ago without any notable effect on the quantity of his output, although its quality has suffered. We lost LeCarre less than two years ago, and I suspect that neither he nor O'Rourke will become quite the industry that 'Clancy' seems to be.

I try to re-read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy every few years, and Parliament of Whores is up next. If you haven't ever read these books, I highly recommend them.

Dave Barry, who was born a few months before O'Rourke, is still with us. Dear Dave: Be careful and well. Regards, Richard


At this time, about two weeks after Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin directed the Russian military to invade Ukraine*, there is still a Ukraine. Its people are resisting the invasion with bravery and panache, according to reports in the western media. If you come upon this blogitem weeks or months or years from now, you will know, as I surely don't, whether there is still an independent Ukraine, or, for that matter, there is still a Putin in charge of Russia, or, in a not-unimaginable case, there is still a world-as-we-know-it. I have no particular wisdom to add to the punditry we've been reading (or watching, for those so inclined), but I do have a few questions.

  • Q1: It seems to me that Russia and Ukraine are at war. Generally, in a war, both sides attack each other. I haven't heard of any Ukrainian attacks on Russia. Isn't that something of a surprise?
  • Q2: Why hasn't the United Nations, whose raison d'être is being challenged by this event, done something?
  • Q3: Isn't the situation with Ukraine and Russia somewhat analogous to that of Cuba and the United States?

Analog Is Everywhere (or Nowhere?)

I just now was inspired to woolgathering by the T-shirt of the Day.

It is common in the audio field to regard signals created by musical instruments or voice as analog. Likewise, signals propagated through the air that impinge on the eardrums are also analog. But as we learn more about quantum physics and physiology, can we support either of those arguments? Maybe not! Although one could argue that a vibrating string can create an infinitely variable amount of pressure on the eardrum, does it really? As far as anyone knows, space itself is quantized at the Planck scale, which would argue that although large, there are only a number—not a true continuum—of pressure values to determine the vibration of the string or pressure on the eardrum. And when the sound is perceived, is it not sent to the brain in part as a specific number of digital pulses through neurons?

You might think I'm splitting cilia here, but if we're going to truly distinguish analog from digital, then such m



Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, that T-shirt isn't trying to answer an existential question about the construction of the universe, but is simply referring to the company's products being ubiquitous?

No, I prefer to believe I'm on to something here! It's a very important and relevant question.

If you look carefully at the shirt, you'll see a small "TM" right after the "everywhere."


* Ukraine or The Ukraine? An interesting sidelight on that subject if you're old enough to remember the The.
Richard Factor


"Pink Dawn"

The Human Instinct



Although I don't remember when or where I got this shirt, it is obviously from Analog Devices, a well regarded semiconductor manufacturer whose products we have been using as long as we have been extant, and almost as long as they have.

Which doesn't mean the shirt is true! I rarely wax philosophical about T-shirt slogans, but I think this one deserves some thought.

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