April 18, 2007

33 Individuals

Victims in Virginia Tech massacre
Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mechanics lecturer. Born in Romania, he survived the Nazi Holocaust and emigrated to Israel in 1978 before moving to Virginia in 1985.

An Israeli citizen, he had taught at Virginia Tech for 20 years and was internationally known for his work in aeronautical engineering.

"His research has enabled better aircraft, superior composite materials, and more robust aerospace structures," said Ishwar Puri, the head of the engineering science and mechanics department.

After surviving the Nazi killings, Librescu escaped from communist Romania and made his way to the United States before he was killed in Monday’s massacre, which coincided with Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Librescu's son, Joe, said his father's students sent e-mails detailing how the professor saved their lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman before he was fatally shot.

“My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee,” Joe Librescu said from his home outside Tel Aviv, Israel. “Students started opening windows and jumping out.”
Just one story. More humanizing at MSNBC.

April 15, 2007

Pursuing Happiness

"Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness." -- George Orwell

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April 13, 2007


It's mind-boggling how someone so apparently smart (too smart to be a politician) can be such a dumbass...
Injured NJ governor apparently did not wear seat belt

More Vonnegut

Thinking about yesterday's news, I realized that there's only a few authors whose works take up a foot or two on my bookshelves -- Asimov's Robot/Foundation series, Tom Robbins (If you want another work that covers the same territory as The DaVinci Code but with a bit more surreal wit, check out Robbins' Another Roadside Attraction), and Kurt Vonnegut pretty much make up that category.

Some Vonnegut quotes:
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be. (Mother Night)

Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance. (Hocus Pocus)

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. (Sirens of Titan)

Say what you will about the sweet miracle of unquestioning faith, I consider a capacity for it terrifying and absolutely vile!

Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.

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April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922-2007

From the First Book of Bokonon, a religion introduced by Kurt Vonnegut in Cat's Cradle:
Warning from title page: Don't be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!

Verse 1: All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies.

Verses 2-4: In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away.

Verse 5: Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.
(foma = "lies"; "harmless untruths"; "a useful and harmless sort of horseshit".)

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., 1922-2007
So it goes.

April 05, 2007

Silly Hobbies

From the classic Frank Capra film, "You Can't Take It With You"...

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