About Steven Alexander

Her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom,
Her glory shall rest on us all.
     Phil Ochs & Bob Gibson, "The Power and the Glory" (1963)

The children know. They have always known. But we choose to think otherwise: it hurts to know the children know. If we obfuscate, they will not see. Thus we conspire to keep them from knowing and seeing. And if we insist, then the children, to please us, will make believe they do not know, they do not see. They are remarkable -- patient, loving, and all-forgiving. It is a sad comedy: the children knowing and pretending they don't know to protect us from knowing they know.
     Maurice Sendak, preface to I Dream of Peace: Images of War by Children of Former Yugoslavia (UNICEF, HarperCollins 1994)

I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.
Ogden Nash, "Everybody Tells Me Everything" (1931-1940)
Justice Antonin Scalia was openly skeptical. "What is the meaning of Terry?" he asked. Did Mr. Dolan mean that the police were "allowed to ask questions but shouldn't expect answers?"
(As quoted in the NY Times, 23 Mar 2004)
Bertrand Russell joked that Hegel defined "liberty" as "the freedom to obey the police."
The basic lesson of Bayesian analysis is that you can learn only from information that disconfirms some part of your current belief set. But of course the natural tendency of the mind is to minimize cognitive dissonance by accepting confirming evidence and rejecting disconfirming evidence....
Mark Kleiman, Responses to Comments

I'm 52 years old and left-handed. My son, Zeno*, was born in December 2001. We live in the Hawthorne/Belmont district of southeast Portland*, OR, USA, home of the garden slug fun run, where it really doesn't rain that much. It rains more in Seattle.

As a lawyer, I worked in the New York City Law Department , its Office of Midtown Enforcement and the since-merged Rosenman & Colin. In Portland I practiced intellectual property law at Klarquist Sparkman, and volunteered with the Tom Potter for Mayor campaign.

I get around* mostly by bike and Tri-Met bus, but I'm a member of CarSharing Portland (more expensive since being gobbled by FlexCar of Seattle, re-gobbled by ZipCar), the first such arrangement running in the US.

I support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its economic rights as much its civil ones.

Folk music speaks to me (is that because it's a great way of taking out one's aggressions?), and I maintain an obsolete web page for New York City's defunct Fast Folk Cafe and musical magazine-with-CD. (Zeno is heavily into No!)

Study at many fine institutions has punctuated my time -- but none compares with Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSiM), which I attended in 1973 and 1974, and where I taught in 1976 and 1977.

Perhaps I shouldn't deprecate my experience at the other institutions. It was at Princeton that I contrasted civil engineers with "rude mechanicals" while discussing A Midsummer Night's Dream over dinner with a B.S.E.; I'll spare you the pun on the author's name I made to get around not having read E.M. Forster's A Passage to India in time for class at Bronx Science. (The former pleased mostly me; the latter brought down the whole class and seemed to fulfill my obligation for the day.)

I'm an avid Scrabble player, and maintain the Scrabble FAQ (information central for competitive Scrabble play worldwide). I came in 42nd, 59th, and 41st in the most recent North American Championships in which I've played, and currently stand among active N.A. players. I enjoy programming in Perl, too.

My brother works for the EPA, my mother is retired but teaches anyway, and my father (half-involuntarily half-retired) works as a structural engineer, but is NYC's Big Apple Greeters' volunteer Greeter of the Year for 2003. (See his photo contributed to the HereIsNewYork gallery.) I'm a regular blood platelet donor.

I maintain these bookmarks, for my own use, but you may look if you promise not to laugh.
Also, here are my books entered into LibraryThing so far.

Steven Alexander ()
(probably the only owner of a stuffed ai* toy)
* that's ai as in three-toed sloth, not artificial intelligence

[2] See these pages about Zeno of Elea and Zeno of Cittium.

[4] 73 bookstores, 68 bike stores.

[5] Why is one said to "drive" a car but "ride" a bicycle? And what's so great about Single Use Vehicles (though I can see why sales are so high)?

[6] Click on the punctuation in this paragraph.

Now, some irrelevancies that should make one feel better:

for everyone:
If encryption is outlawed, we'll still have chaffing and winnowing.
for you:
if you need a pick-me-up

Prose ... is not ordinary speech, but ordinary speech on its best behavior, in its Sunday clothes, aware of its audience and with its relation to that audience prepared beforehand.

Northrop Frye, The Well-Tempered Critic, 1963

Presumably man's spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. ... His excursion may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.

Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think", Atlantic Monthly, July 1945.

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Most recently (not "last"!!) modified: 28 May 2009