Thursday, July 31, 2014

Big critters vs. little critters

Last week I wrote about the violence done intra-species, something most of the readers of the Reader Weekly abhor.  This week I would like to write about violence done inter-species, something most of us do everyday.

The prime violence we do to other species is eat their flesh.  Except for those who hunt or fish, we don’t participate directly in that violence.  Isn’t your mouth watering thinking about a hamburger or a plate of shrimp or …?  Mine is watering just writing this, and I’ve given up eating meat.  Not because of what’s done to the animal, but what the meat does to me.

The strongest practitioners of avoiding violence to other species are Jains.  Not only are they vegetarians, but they sweep the ground in front of them as they walk.  They do this so they don’t crush any insects in their path.  For more, see “Ahimsa in Jainism” in Wikipedia.

Few of us would go so far as to only walk and only on swept paths.  In fact, many of us think nothing of the killing of other critters, willingly or accidentally.

Think of our smeared windshields in the summer, especially when we drive in rural areas.  Are we going to drive more slowly so that insects have a better chance of getting out of the way?  I think not.  If a fly or bee gets in our car, we open a window to let it fly out; otherwise we could run off the road trying to smack it.

Some of us may brush mosquitoes or flies off ourselves rather than smack them,  Probably more of us give them a good whack.  At least that one won’t be biting us. Some of us put out bug zappers to attract all kinds of bugs, friendly and unfriendly.  I don’t know how effective these zappers are, but bigger ones can annoy neighbors with the constant ZAP! ZAP!

My favorite form of mosquito control is the dragonfly.  It is nifty to watch them darting around - up, down, and backwards.  A dragonfly can eat its weight in other insects in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, mosquitoes are more prolific and the two or three dragonflies will not get rid of them in our yard in any given night.

One set of critters that I am after now is hornets or wasps.  A hive has formed under the peak of a shed.  I didn’t notice until I went into the shed two weeks ago to get some tool.  Buzz! Ouch! Buzz!  Ouch!  I gave up on a task because I wasn’t willing to open the shed door.  This must be the sixth or seventh that has been around our cabin, probably the third in two years.

Last year I used some spray that shoots a stream of poison up to twenty-five feet.  I used it under the peak of our cabin and then at a hole nest right along a path I used.  The next day they were all gone.  Well, not quite.  After I sprayed the hole I covered it with dirt.  The next day there were a few confused hornets flying around:  “Our nest used to be here!”

This year the spray I used wasn’t so effective.  First, I used it with a screen hood that reduced my ability to see at dusk.  I think I missed the hive completely.  The next time I tried the stream almost petered out before it hit the nest.  The next day hornets were crawling all over the nest repairing it.  If the hornets are still there, we’ll try again this weekend.

Next up in pest size are mice.  I don’t mind them crawling around in the grass and eating thousands of insects, but I don’t want them making nests in our sheds.  I use “The Better Mouse Trap” from Intruder.  No bait, reusable, and generally no mess.  Just throw the carcass in the woods for predators of all kinds.  Unfortunately, there are a few Arizona/Texas style executions where I have a live mouse dragging around the trap.  Enough said!

A couple of years ago these traps were catching shrews.  I had never seen a shrew since I lived in Sweden in the seventies, and I’ve been setting these traps for over fifteen years.  I think I caught thirteen shrews that year.  Since then I’ve seen none except one scurrying through the grass a couple of weeks ago.

Next up in pest size are squirrels.  We had gray squirrels in our walls in Duluth until we cut down a tree that ran right up the side of the house.  When we had the bathroom remodeled, the carpenters also put a better vent in the attic.

In Brimson squirrels are not a problem for us, but a constant source of amusement.  They chatter and scold each other and us, and they chase each other, especially in mating season.

Squirrels are a problem for a neighbor.  They get in under his roof, and he shoots them with a 22. I think it would be easier to fix the roof.  After all, he is only making room for our squirrels to expand their territory to his property.

The biggest critters that are a problem are groundhogs or woodchucks.  They dig big holes that can trip a human.  Fortunately, we see most of them and fill them in again.  A bit of soapy water keeps the groundhogs from coming back to that spot.

Mel is a gentleman when it comes to ladybugs.  He coaxes them onto a piece of paper and then gently blows them off outside.

This was also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, July 31, 2014 at

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Has ’1984’ come to Apple’s Macintosh?

The first Macintosh ad was for the 1984 SuperBowl.  You can find many copies on YouTube such as  The final line was “why 1984 won’t be like ’1984’.

The whole idea of the original Macintosh was that you didn’t need to type in complex instructions to get anything done.  You selected your choices from a menu and you got a window.  In the window you got pictures to look at and icons for any warnings.  Whether disparagingly by PC users or lovingly by Mac users, it was called WIMP.

Several years later, Apple produced the “I’m a Mac; I’m a PC” ads.  These stressed the multitude of fun things that could be done on a Mac right out of the box and implied it was difficult to do these things on a PC without add-ons.  You can see some of these at

To me, as an almost 30 year user of Macs (September 1984), the Mac was a delight to use and program for.  Then the new whiz kids decided that it should be programmed in C rather than Pascal.  To me, C stood for complex, and I had programmed mainframes with line-at-a-time assemblers.

It is mind-boggling how much more I can do now than thirty years ago, but with OS X things seem to have gone downhill.  Or rather it is an uphill job to figure out what is going wrong.  The response time seems to get worse with every new operating system.

I’m not alone with this judgment.  Apple’s “Community” seems filled with complaints about things that don’t work correctly.

Advice to correct the problem includes:

Enter the following command in the Terminal window in the same way as before (triple-click, copy, and paste):
{ sudo chflags -R nouchg,nouappnd ~ $TMPDIR..; sudo chown -R $UID:staff ~ $_; sudo chmod -R

In the 1980s it was said that Mac users didn’t read manuals.  I often found that the only reason I needed a manual was for how to type letters with diacritical marks, such as å, é, î, and ö.  Now I find I am going to the “Community” at least once a month for some problem.

These kind of problems may be happening to users with two or more year-old computers; Apple’s programmers are likely to be using computers that are less than a year old, and they probably don’t have the time to test the new software on older computers than those on their desks.

I may be on to something here.  My wife’s iMac is a year newer than my MacBook Pro.  Other than updates within a major level, she is still using the same operating system that came with her computer.  Meanwhile, I’ve updated two levels since I bought mine, skipped one level because of the problem I mentioned in the last paragraph, and then fell for the enticements to move to the latest OS, Mavericks.  This had many benefits, but I keep wondering if they do outweigh the problems.

Friday, July 25, 2014

When the big boys play, the little kids get hurt

I’m not talking about playgrounds but battle grounds.  And too many big boys want to make everywhere a battle ground.

Does anyone really know what Vladimir Putin’s game is with Ukraine and other countries bordering Russia?  Is he on a power trip or is he concerned that the West is encroaching on Russia and is a threat to the existence of Russia?

If it is strictly a power trip, then he is following in the steps of the Tsars and Stalin.  The Tsars and Stalin used their populations as cannon fodder for their own ends.  How many people are going to die before Putin’s goals are met.  Will the shooting down of Malaysia Air 17 give him pause in his power trip.

If he is concerned with the West encroaching on Russia, maybe he should join the West in providing a parliamentary and economic framework for all of Europe.  Major threats to Russia have all but disappeared.  Napoleon is dead and today’s France has no interest in attacking Moscow.  The Kaiser and Hitler are both dead and today’s Germany has no interest in attacking Leningrad or Stalingrad.

Whatever Putin’s game is with Ukraine, let’s hope that he takes to heart that his big boy play has really hurt lots of “little kids” who have nothing to do with his game.

Israel is a parliamentary state with many political parties.  No party ever seems to gain a majority of seats.  In order to govern, parties have to form coalitions.  Too often these coalitions include some religious party that believes that God gave Israel to the Jews about 3,000 years ago.  About 2,000 years ago the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and Jews fled to Europe and Africa.  Others moved in and eventually became today’s Arabs.

About eighty years ago Hitler with his big boy games decided that Jews were not part of these games and started executing them in obscene numbers.  Those Jews who could fled the areas Hitler controlled, some of them fleeing to Palestine.

To simplify history, all hell broke loose when the big boys of the European and American powers declared through the U.N. that a certain part of Palestine would become the new state of Israel. Now another set of big boys is playing various games that never seem to end.  The latest games are kidnapping and killing teenagers for no other reason that they were of the “other”.  Now that game has escalated with all the “little kids” in Gaza wondering where they can flee to escape the violence of the game..

Nicholas Kristoff wrote a good column on how the intransigence of both sides perpetuates the problem.  See “Who’s Right and Wrong in the Middle East?”, New York Times Sunday Review, July 20, 2014.

Mosaddegh was the duly elected prime minister of Iran.  He decided that Iran wasn’t getting enough marbles from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and nationalized it.  The big boys in Whitehall and Foggy Bottom arranged to have Mosaddegh overthrown and have Reza Pahlavi reinstated as Shah.  Among other things the Shah did was have his secret service, Savak, take out the little kids that didn’t play the Shah’s way.
Savak’s dirty tricks were no secret.  In fact, a colleague who was supporting a Univac computer in Tehran asked me to join him.  No way did I want to move from Sweden to a country like Iran.  In fact, in the last year I was in Sweden (1974), Iranian students were demonstrating in Stockholm against the Shah.

By 1979 Ayotollah Khomeni had overthrown the Shah and set up a new set of big boy rules; many of these rules were not to the little kids’ benefit.

But the big boys in Washington were not happy with the overthrow of the Shah, especially when the U.S. Embassy was taken over and diplomats held prisoner.

And matters got worse.  First, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran, even when he used poison gas on Iranian troops.  Second when the U.S. decided Saddam was not to its liking and went to war against him, the U.S. shot down an Iranian airliner with over 200 “little kids” on board, few if any who were part of the big boy games.

And still the games go on, although in a more civilized manner than for the last two decades.  Iran is negotiating with the U.S. and others about how much nuclear capability Iran should have.  But the big boys like the U.S. and the U.K. aren’t offering to reduce their nuclear capability, a capability that some hawks wouldn’t hesitate using to flatten Iran, including all the “little kids” who have nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear capability or intentions.

Another big boy game going on is China’s assertion of sovereignty over offshore islands.  I recently read an article by a Chinese or Vietnamese author who said that China really has more to gain by playing nice than by throwing its weight around.  It is ironic that China is still holding a grudge about another nation that threw its weight around to gain supremacy in the Western Pacific: Japan.

The “little kids” sing, “When will they ever learn” and the big boys never do.

This was also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, July 24, 2014 at

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Good Service

Good service is something we often take for granted.  If we get bad service we often don’t return.  If we get good service, if convenient, we return again and again.

Many almost make a career of bashing government.  Government is “bloated” and “inefficient”.  Little do they consider all the ways that government makes their lives easier.

Two favorite targets of government bashers are the Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service.  So effective are these government bashers that others parrot their complaints without considering how necessary and effective these services are.

Five days a week, our mail carrier Sarah comes to our door and deposits mail in our box.  She almost always has a smile, whether she trudges through knee-deep snow bundled up for minus twenty or she easily strolls across mowed grass in shorts.  This attitude is found throughout the Postal Service, at least in Minnesota.  If you stop at a Post Office with a long line at Christmas, the clerks treat each customer as if they were their only customers.  When they have finished with your request, they ask, “Anything else?”

Filing taxes is a chore most of us dread.  Why so many details to note?  Did I remember every donation?  Did I remember every dividend check?  And on and on.  As we plow our way through all these details and curse that we still owe money, we curse the IRS.  But the IRS didn’t create all these rules except at the bidding of Congress.  And Congress created a complex tax code to satisfy thousands of lobbyists.  To top it off, Congress doesn’t fund the IRS sufficiently to do all that it is required to do effectively.

A few weeks ago I received an IRS letter.  Oh, boy!  Did I screw up some calculation or miss an item?  Do I owe even more money?  I opened the letter to get the pain over quickly and found that I will be receiving a refund check!  I used a wrong percentage for a calculation and have less taxable income than I reported.

I know most of this is automated but real people had to be involved to double check and order the refund.  As all large organizations do, the letter said I would receive payment in four-to-six weeks.  I think I received it in a week or ten days.

But that same Congress that bashes the IRS bashes the Postal Service.  It saddled the Postal Service with the requirement to fully-fund future pensions, farther out than many corporations are required.  For example, as of the last letter I received about my Unisys pension, it was only funded at 77 percent!

The result of this pension burden on the Postal Service is that it has to cut services.  But if the Postal Service cuts services then what costs will be incurred by the public?  When rural post offices are cut, how many people will have to spend time and money to drive thirty or more miles to the nearest post office?  If the Postal Service consolidates sorting centers, how much longer will it take for businesses to provide service to their customers?

For example, Netflix has a Duluth distribution center.  Instead of two-day turnaround for a DVD, turnaround from the Duluth center could be four days.  That means, Netflix would probably close its Duluth distribution center, taking jobs direct and indirect with it.

UPS often uses the Postal Service for the “last mile” for small packages.  I’m not sure exactly how this works, but if the Duluth postal sorting center closes, then USPS will have to change its procedures to have its center nearest the Postal Center handle these “last mile” packages.  That will take a major reworking of UPS’s operational procedures.

I did not expect to write so much on government service.  This leaves me less space to praise all the businesses local and national, big and small that provide good service.

I’ll start with a few that know me by name or at least recognize my face.

Every so often I buy something from Denny’s Lawn and Garden, but more often I come in with a question or a broken something.  Tom is always ready to answer my questions or explain what has to be fixed.

Across the street at Denny’s Hardware, Yvonne always has a smile and is ready to point me in the right direction or to the right person.  Even when the person is new to me, they seem to know where what I want is located.

Whenever I want to buy a book,  The Bookstore at Fitgers can quickly tell me if its in stock or if it has to be ordered.  Northern Lights Books provided the same service.

I buy boots and jeans every few years at Minnesota Surplus, but Rick and others recognize me and cheerfully serve me.  Similarly, I buy a couple of shirts every few years at Mainstream for Men, and maybe a belt.  Doug and Tom always treat me as if I were their favorite customer.

Oh dear, the word count is going up too fast.  I have some favorite corporate places, but I’ll just end with a bit about Menards.  Often a clerk will walk half-way across the store to show you where an item is.  The king of service at Menards was Roy.  People sought him ought for advice because he always seemed to have the right answer.  He’s been retired for many years, but many still remember him.

Mel buys both local and corporate; he drinks Duluth beer and Italian wine.  And he forgot to mention Brandon and crew at Mt. Royal Bottle Shoppe.

Originally published in the Reader Weekly, 2014-07-10 at

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Idyll or Sweat Farm

Here I sit in the screen “house” about noon at our cabin after hauling some chips and cut brush. The sky is blue, the trees are green, the wind is blowing through the trees, and birds are chirping. Do I even want to move?

The weather forecast was for 30% chance of thunderstorms, but I am going by my own weather “advisory”.  If bad weather is predicted, there is often a bigger chance that the weather will be just fine.  This is one of those “just fine” days.

We are here on a too infrequent four-day weekend.  Even though it is the weekend of the Fourth of July, there are surprisingly few neighbors around.  The only thing we heard from neighbors who often shoot off fireworks was some late evening hooting.  Maybe they were watching a soccer match on TV.  Somebody was shooting yesterday in the woods, hopefully not on our land.  The only person who I think might have had access to that area is already gone.

“Don’t make it a sweat farm” was from Bruce Berggren, a DNR forester, who gave us a stewardship plan in the early Nineties.  I don’t remember if we had more than a dome tent, a picnic table, and a tarp then.  We weren’t doing more than cutting brush to expand our “living area” and to make room for planting trees.

Now we have a “yard” that is three times as big as our yard in Duluth and three loops of trails with some side paths.  But, because we found much to occupy ourselves in Duluth, two of the loops and the side paths have grown over.  On the other hand, the “yard” seems to be getting bigger.

Our first major “expansion” was to put cots in our dome tent.  Oh!  We had so much more room. We could put our packs and coolers under the cots.

Our first building was an 8x8 shed that I built probably within our second year here.  We moved our cots into it.  Oh! We had so much room.  We could even dress standing up. We could even put a propane heater in it and stay overnight in the winter.  With each stay, it seemed more and more space was taken up with tools.

A couple years later, I built a cabin with some assistance from others.  We decided that a nominal 12x16 should be sufficient for our needs until we built a house here.   When I first put in a cot, Oh! We had so much room.  Over the years, we have added more and more.  Before the second winter we had a wood stove.  We added a foldout couch and a card table.  We used an Ikea counter for our “kitchen” counter.  I had used it for my darkroom when we lived in Sweden.  I cut a hole in it for a sink which drains into a bucket on the floor.  We added a microwave and a mini-refrigerator.  I forgot to mention that we had electricity and telephone before I put the wallboard up.  We stuck a portable toilet in one corner.

At some point, I built an outhouse.  We can even use it in the winter in “comfort” with a small heater screwed onto a 20-lb propane tank.  Last year I installed a solar shed light.

The same year we moved to Duluth we had a well dug.  It’s only twenty feet deep, but the water was so nice to have.  Then came the drought years and we were back to hauling water.

We built an 8x12 sauna with the help of some friends.  A battery and a solar panel provide lighting.

Other buildings include a ramshackle woodshed built out of scrap lumber and a metal shed where we store our power equipment.  I wish I hadn’t been stingy on the cost.  I’m constantly bumping my head on the low ceiling.

A recent plus is that we have better internet service.  From 25Kbps (that’s right, K not M) with a landline to sometimes 10Mbps with cellular.  As this is off my cellphone contract with Consumer Cellular, my guess is that I’m paying about a third for phone and internet at the cabin than I was for the landline.

One big project I would like to do is get rid of all the “Toimi sand”.  Toimi is the neighboring township and the sand grains are from fist-size to boulders to climb onto.  This area is also called Kivi Country, kivi being Finnish for stone.  I would really like to get rid of many of them because those that stick up only an inch or two are lawnmower busters.  Even bigger ones make it hard to pull a cart over.

Two years ago I really hurt one shoulder using a ten-pound hammer on a 4x3x2 boulder to no avail other than chips flying all over.  I wonder if a small electric jackhammer would work.  Probably I couldn’t take the strain.

Well, I better wrap this up.  It looks like 30% chance of thunderstorms getting closer.  There are more clouds, some even dark, in the sky and the wind is getting stronger.  I hope I can cut the grass on at least one short path.  Oh well, if the rain comes, I still have many books to read and last week’s Reader Weekly.

Mel did get more than one path cut, edited this, and sent it.  The rain still hadn’t come.

This was also published in the 2014-07-10 issue of the Reader Weekly at

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fools rush in where linguists fear to tread

From a very old undated note on my desk:

What is the percentage of those who speak Spanish advising more military aid to El Salvador and of those advising against military aid?

This still holds in so much of what goes on in the world in 2014.  Fools rush in where linguists fear to tread.

Teacher qualities

From an undated note on my desk:


Free market and education

From an undated note on my desk:

Inspired by a letter in the Wall Street Journal (1983-05-05) extolling free enterprise in education.

The free market is not an ideology in itself; it is a realization of a philosophy of diversity of ideas.

The trouble with our free enterprise is that goods and services are judged solely on how much somebody with money (or other barter) is willing to pay.

Political correctness and multiculturalism

From an undated note on my desk:

Tolerance and consideration have been thrown out in favor of assertive support and of prohibition of any words or actions that can be perceived as the slightest insult.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Political speech or bribery?

If I give money to a politician or a bureaucrat to get him or her to do something for me, it is called bribery.  Said bribery can result in a fine or a prison term, for both me and the politician or bureaucrat.

However, if I give money to the political campaign of a politician, in the expectation that he will act in my interests, it is now called "political speech".

A real Republican's Senate career was ended when it was revealed that he was given a Minneapolis condo at discount rates.  I don't remember the details, but I think it was a shame that real Republicans like David Durenberger, Bob Packwood, and Edward Brookes went down in flames because they did things that were small misdeeds compared to the shenanigans that go on now in both parties.

Remember that those who throw millions at elections so far have just as many votes as you do – one!

Please also pass on to all your friends:

Always vote because all votes count.  The only votes that don't count are those not cast.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Meaning of Meaningless Words and Phrases

As seen on TV

I think I saw this phrase about a week ago as I flung another of the countless flyers we get in the mail into the recycle box.  So how does “As seen on TV” make any product better than any other product, whether seen on TV or not seen on TV.  The actor John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt was paid to act out a script touting the features of the Okey Dokey Wonder Tool.  Is the Okey Dokey company going to say anything about the faults of their Wonder Tool?  Oh, they might have a small print disclaimer like “results may vary” or “not to be used by children under twelve.”

Did you, dear astute reader, catch my meaningless word - countless?  I am going to weasel on that one and state that countless doesn’t mean without end; it means I am not counting them.

Almost endless

How are the uses of any product almost endless?  Or infinite?  No matter how many uses of a product you find, you will have found only a finite number of uses.  If everybody in the world found found even more uses, they will still have found only a finite number of uses.  If all future generations found even more uses, they will still have found only a finite number of uses.  And when the sun explodes or burns out, the number of uses found will still be a finite number.

Seamless operation

I thought this expression had fallen out of use, but Apple CEO Tim Cook used it at the recent developer’s conference.  He really should visit the online Apple User Community to find out how seamless Apple software is not.  Especially how operations that were once simple and obvious have become complex and obtuse.

It seems to me that the more complicated software becomes, the more glitches and operational quirks there are.  Sure, I can do a lot more with computers than I did even five years ago, but I have an even longer list of problems that I haven’t found a round tuit to resolve.

Perfect gift

This “omniscient” phrase appeared in dozens of ads for hundreds of products before Father’s Day.  “Just what Dad wants.”  First, how do these advertisers even know what each and very father wants?  Second, this father really didn’t want any of the products advertised.  Third, our family doesn’t give gifts on Father’s Day.  Fourth, our family doesn’t celebrate Father’s day.  Fifth, this curmudgeonly father doesn’t even care.

Business friendly

Many judge cities and states on how “business-friendly” they are.  That is, are taxes low, are subsidies given for relocation, are environmental laws relaxed?  Rarely are cities and states judged by the “business-friendly” crowd as to how well the police and fire departments operate, how good the roads and utilities are, and how willing people are to move for reasons other than being moved there by the new or expanding company.

“Business-friendly” often means “corporate-friendly”.  Local businesses are often the losers when a corporation moves in.  What happened to the local stationery store when Office Depot moved into downtown Duluth?  How many other local businesses were disrupted?  How long did Office Depot stay in downtown Duluth?  More and more chain drug stores have been opened in Duluth.  When was the last time you visited a locally-owned pharmacy?

The good news is that there are still several locally-owned businesses in Duluth.  Be truly business-friendly and support them with your business.

Voters decided/Investors decided

I wish journalists would stop using these sweeping generalizations to describe the choices of a minority.  I’ve written over and over how a minority of eligible or even registered voters chose the eventual winners of an election.  When it comes to “investors decided”, the proportion of “deciders” is a tiny fraction of “investors”.

First, how often are the “investors” day-traders?  Second, how often are the “day-traders” computers programmed to look for the tiniest advantage?

The real investors are those who buy and hold for years.  They invested because they believed in the purpose of the company, because they perceived long-term growth, or because they wanted steady dividends.  These investors are not deciding the daily gyrations of the stock markets.

Conservative and liberal

It seems these terms have devolved into if you are one of these then you are on the good side and the other is the bad side.  Conservatives have devolved from those who deliberated carefully to those who believe in a long list of bullet points, even if some of these are contradictory, like abortion is bad and war is good.  Liberals have devolved from those who were generous to those in real need to those who support a long list of groups who they see as disadvantaged.

The “conservatives” have managed to put the “liberals” on the defensive.

Maybe someday we will once again have more conservatives like Ross Douthat and David Brooks and liberals like Paul Krugman and Eugene Robinson.  These and several others in government and journalism look at the “big picture” rather than narrow interests.

Mel would have visited three locally-owned businesses the day he wrote this, but he wimped out when the wind blew dust on his contact lenses.

Also published in the Reader Weekly, 2014-07-03 at

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Leaky pipes and voting

Voting is as important as tending to leaky pipes.  If you don’t tend to a leaky pipe, you may a flooded basement.  If you don’t tend to your government by voting, you may have flooded streets.

This was inspired in party by John W. Gardner’s statement:

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”

and by Jackie Calmes “As Numbers Grow, Single Women Emerge as Political Powerhouse”, New York Times, 2014-07-02

Calmes points out that single women are more likely not to vote, especially in mid-term elections.

For more wonderful quotes by John W. Gardner, see  I especially like his comment on taxes:

“Handing money back to the private sector in tax cuts and starving the public sector is a formula for producing richer and richer consumers in filthier and filthier communities. If we stick to that formula we shall end up in affluent misery.”