Sins of Omission

Everyone is aware of the Senate report on CIA torture during the ‘war on terror’ at this point. Working in an international workplace, I don’t see where revealing it could do any actual harm. Anecdotal evidence was already abundant, and when things are covered up, it only encourage people to believe the worst. There seems to be less emphasis on the willful neglect of oversight on the part of the Senate committee. Which leads me to the subject of this post and two items that it made me think of.

The first of these is the movie The Insider. If you haven’t seen it, I would suggest it. It stars Al Pacino and Russell Crowe and dramatizes the incident where big tobacco pressured 60 Minutes into retracting a story exposing them. There’s a point where Al Pacino makes a judgment, without saying it, stronger than I’ve ever seen it made anywhere else.

Integrity is something you have all the time, or you don’t have it any of the time.

Trust Al to know how to make a point. I would suggest it to the CIA director.

The committee on the other hand reminded me of a quote.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

I knew I had heard it, and it is attributed to Edmund Burke. Although several things he said can be paraphrased that way, there is no evidence that he ever actually said those words. Yet it’s a regular quote. And the equivalent has shown up in quotes from other prominent figures. Being a scientist, I admit to liking Einstein’s version.

The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.


Paris en L’hiver

At first I thought Paris was different because I hadn’t been there in a while. Then I thought about it. Not just a while, a lonnnnng while. This was my first time in Paris where it wasn’t just passing through since 1991, 23 years. Then I thought a little more. No, the thing that was different was that I had never been to Paris in the winter. Anyway, here are a few photos from the trip.

As an example of winter, here’s a view of the Jardin des Plantes. It was also raining at that point.


Adding a little adventure to the trip, the Seine was very high, flooding some sections of the river walkway. The right wind or a boat and it went even higher.


Now this was entirely new. This is a phenomenon that is slowly taking over any bridge in Paris where you can fit a lock. Maybe it saves people from covertly scraping names in the stone.


orsayBut the best part was that I was there on the first Sunday of the month which means … FREE museums! I finally made it to the Musee d’Orsay … after 23 years.

The Secret of Texas Chili

In Texas there’s no discussion that will draw more fervent opinions and fewer changes of heart than a discussion of how to make the right chili. Can it have beans? How hot does it have to be? … It is the state dish after all. So where did Texas Chili really come from. Was it given by God when Moses Austin parted the Red River and brought Americans into Texas? Well, actually no. What has become Texas Chili developed during the cattle drives during the 19th century. The cattle owners didn’t want cattle slaughtered during the drive up to Kansas, but the trail riders needed something to eat. The solution was to butcher the meat before the cattle drive. They then soaked it in vinegar and peppers so that it wouldn’t spoil on the drive. That way no one other than a real cowboy would be willing to eat it. What about beans? Well I’m guessing a hungry trail rider wouldn’t turn beans down, so do as you please. But if you have to refrigerate it, it ain’t Texas Chili.