Thursday, December 31, 2015

Annual Splashing of Cold and/or Hot Water on Cold Fusion

Because it’s been a year since my last report, let’s restate the buzz words:
  • Cold Fusion - the term coined by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann for generating energy from a nuclear reaction at, or near, room temperature. 
  • LENR (low-energy nuclear reactions) - the current term for cold fusion
  • CMNS (condensed matter nuclear science) - the current term for the field of cold fusion
  • CECR - (controlled electron capture reaction) - the term used by Brillouin Energy Corporation for their type of LENR
  • Brillouin Energy Corp. (mentioned in my 2013 report) - the company collaborating with Stanford Research International (SRI) in developing LENR, and, of course,
  • E-Cat - Andrea Rossi’s LENR device 

Here’s some news from 2015:
Andrea Rossi obtained a U.S. patent for a “Fluid Heater” that raises the temperature of water using a mixture of nickel, lithium, and lithium-aluminum-hydride powders with heat. The mixture produces more heat than added. This is the first patent Rossi has been able to obtain in the U.S. His previous attempts were for devices which mentioned cold fusion.

Andrea Rossi, whose ecat device was “independently” tested last year (As pointed out in last year’s report, there was controversy over the “independence” from Rossi’s interventions during the test.), has been testing a one megawatt ecat for several months which should wrap up in February. While it is operating continuously 24 hours a day, it requires constant monitoring and adjustment. Clearly, not close to a commercial product or even one which can boast an independent test.

On December 1 of this year Brillouin Energy Corp. released a 35 page report by Michael Halem, a third party technical investigator, on Brillouin Energy’s Hydrogen Hot™ (HHT™) prototype Boiler System reactor. The report was very positive. "I was given full access to the experiments," said Mr. Halem. "I was able to confirm, with a high degree of confidence, excess energy output above chemical and likely due to a nuclear reaction." The report was peer reviewed by Mr. Halem’s technical colleague, Dr. Antoine Guillemin. The report also affirms that the technology “is scalable by assembling multiple HHT™ tubes in the reactor system."

Here is the Brillouin Energy's web site. You can find news about the December 1 report as well as many peer reviewed papers on the science and the company's technology. If nothing else, you may want to read the Preface, the first article under "LENR Peer Reviewed Papers" which will answer many of your questions (or not, as the case may be).

So, as has become typical, it was a mixed year for the technology. I still say the science seems real, as there are just too many experiments yielding positive results, but the chance for a commercial product is still very much in question.

One article I found interesting was this one by Louis F. DeChiaro, Ph.D, a physicist with the US Naval Sea Systems Command. He lists some conditions necessary to produce successful LENR. It is quite technical, but the key, to me, is towards the end where he points out that none of this was known in 1989 by Pons and Fleischmann. 
Without knowing what one is doing and why it works, the probability of achieving successful results via the so-called Edisonian method of trial and error is disappointingly low. Reasonable scientists and engineers can be forgiven for their difficulty in believing that there might exist ANY circumstances under which such things could be possible. And to be blunt, it was only in the last few months that the causal chain finally became clear.
If you are interested in the topic, here is a link to the notes of a presentation by DeChiaro in September of this year which summarizes the whole field of LENR.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Kaiser William

"You Are Old, Father William" by Lewis Carroll was one of my favorite poems growing us.  The poem was a parody of another poem, Robert Southey's rather pious "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them” -- well known to children of Carroll’s time.   Of course, Southey’s poem is now mostly forgotten, and only Carroll’s parody is remembered.   Martin Gardner called it "one of the undisputed masterpieces of nonsense verse.”

Parody only invites further parody.  Here is a clever one that that I found while looking for other things.  And you also get a brief history lesson.

You Are Young, Kaiser William  
By Mostyn T. Pigott
"You are young, Kaiser William," the old man exclaimed,
"And your wisdom-teeth barely are through,
And yet by your deeds the whole world is inflamed--  
Do you think this is proper of you?"
"As a baby I doted on playing with fire,"
Replied the irascible prince,
"And though I was spanked by my excellent sire,
I've been doing the same ever since."
"You are young," said the Sage, "and your juvenile legs    
Are not what one would call fully grown;
Yet you point out to grandmamma how to suck eggs-- 1
Why adopt this preposterous tone?'  
"As a child," said the youth, "I perceived that my head      
Wouldn't ever allow me to learn,    
So I made up my mind to start teaching instead,
And I've taught everybody in turn."
"You are young," said the Sage, "as I mentioned just now,          
Yet with relatives over the sea      
You have recently kicked up a terrible row—  
Do you think that such things ought to be."
"In my yacht,' said the youth, 'I will oftentimes range,
And at Cowes I have gibed once or twice. 2
So it came to my mind that by way of a change
To gibe at a Bull would be nice."3

"You are young," said the Seer, "but the past you ignore,    
And have an extravagant trick
Of using up telegraph forms by the score
Why are you so painfully quick?"
"As a child," replied William, "they taught me to write
An entirely illegible scrawl;
But a wire which the post office people indite
Can be read without trouble by all." 4

"You are young," said the Sage, "but you cling to the view
That the whole of the world must be yours,  
Now show how the Transvaal's connected with you,  
And what business you have with the Boers." 5
"I am tired of your questions, and sick of your din,"
Answered William; "obey my behest—"
Be off! or I'll treat you as one of my kin,"
And order your instant arrest!"

1 “Teaching grandmother to suck eggs” is an English expression meaning to give advice to someone else about a subject about which they already know (and probably far more than you.).  This may also be a reference to the Kaiser’s grandmother, Queen Victoria.

2 Cowes is a town on the coast of England that hosts the world’s largest regatta every August.  Beginning in the 1890s, Wilhelm visited England for the regatta and often competed against his Uncle Bertie, later King Edward VII, in the yacht races.

3 “To gibe at a Bull.”  Here, Pigott makes a pun on the word gibe.  As we all know from sailing, to “gibe,” more commonly spelled “jibe,” is to shift from one side to the other when running before the wind. “Gibe” also means to show one's contempt in derision or mockery.  I’m guessing that “the Bull” refers to John Bull, the national personification of Great Britain; similar to how Uncle Sam represents the United States.

4But a wire which the post office people indite/Can be read without trouble by all.” This has been the hardest reference for me to track down.  The closest I came resolving this is the fact that apparently Wilhelm’s handwriting was not good.  His mother, the Crown Princess Vicky of Great Britain, insisted that Wilhelm write to her in English.  At one point she told him, “The handwriting distresses me, it is so babyish.”
     But as to the line accusing the Kaiser of having "an extravagant trick/Of using up telegraph forms by the score," I haven't a clue.  Pigott’s reference in this poem written in 1896 to Wilhelm’s use of the telegraph, however, was remarkably prescient.  In July and August 1914, a flurry of telegrams were exchanged between Wilhelm, and Nicholas II, Emperor of Russia, on the eve of the First World War, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent war.  They were called the Willy-Nicky telegrams.  The two leaders were related and well acquainted with one another (they vacationed together, hunted together and enjoyed dressing up in the uniforms of each other’s military officers when sailing on their yachts).  They referred to each other as Nicky and Willy in the telegrams.  The telegrams were written in English.
    I’m open to other suggestions as to what this verse might mean.  Perhaps Big Pete, whose specialty is WW I, may have some answers here.

5And what business you have with the Boers."  In January 1896, Kaiser Wilhelm sent a telegram to the president of the Transvaal Republic congratulating the president on repelling a raid by 600 British irregulars from Cape Colony into the Transvaal:  “I express to you my sincere congratulations that you and your people, without appealing to the help of friendly powers, have succeeded, by your own energetic action against the armed bands which invaded your country as disturbers of the peace, in restoring peace and in maintaining the independence of the country against attack from without.”  The British saw the telegram as German meddling in what they considered their own sphere of influence and a threat that Germany might lend support to Transvaal’s independence in the future.  Not surprisingly, the message led to further deterioration in relations between the two countries.

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Must be Doing Something Right

It may not get much coverage, but 2015 was the best year for humanity in history:  2015: The Best Year in History for the Average Human Being.

And the best year in history before this year was 2014:  Goodbye to one of the best years in history
;   A Look Back at the Best Year in Human History.

And the best year in history before that was 2013:  5 Reasons Why 2013 Was The Best Year In Human History.  

And the best year in history before that was 2012:  Glad tidings Never in the history of the world has there been less hunger, less disease and more prosperity.

I'd say that we're on a roll.    2016?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Gold Cookbook

I think that we forget how funny Dad was.

Probably the second most revered cookbook at home growing up was The Gold Cookbook by Louis P. De Gouy (behind only the Cadillac of the genre, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook).  To my memory, Dad had always prounonced the author's name as Louie de Gooey.  And, knowing no better as a young lad, I always thought that was the proper pronunciation.

I recently made some reference to Louis de Gouy to Sue, and she laughed and said there's nobody named "Louie de Gooey!"  I insisted that there was and lo and behold we found The Gold Cookbook online.  But, I'm sure that to no one's suprise, we also discovered that the pronounciuation to his last name was not Gooey, as appropriate as that name might be for a chef, but is pronounced "gwee."  (you could verify this with Kathleen).  Obviously, Dad preferred the Louie de Gooey pronunciation.

And, once the cookbook's instruction were carefully followed and dinner prepared, Dad  would  sit down and enjoy his meal, frequently accompanied by a glass of his favorite wine, Châteauneuf-du-Peuf.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Keep Krampus in Christmas

In central Europe there is a dark side to Christmas.  Sure enough, St. Nicholas makes his appearance bringing candy and presents to children, but he's often accompanied by a not-so-nice demon.

This companion takes many forms.  In the low countries it's Zwarte Piet (or Black Peter), a moor from Spain.  He is probably the most benign of St. Nick's side-kicks.  He's Santa's right hand man and helps out along the way.  Today his main role is to amuse children and to scatter Christmas candy for those who come to meet the saint.  Although, it's not all goodness and light.  Both St. Nick and Zwarte Piet will seize bad children and carry them off in a burlap sack back to Spain, where Sinterklaas and his helper dwell out-of-season.  

In much of Germany, it's Knecht Ruprecht (Servant Rupert)  According to some traditions, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raised from childhood.  He carries the sack of presents and a rod for disobedient children. "Just wait until Ruprecht comes" is still a common threat in German homes.  

From the palatinate in Germany comes the Belsnickel.  The Belsnickel travels alone.  He is a man wearing furs and sometimes a mask with a long tongue. He is typically very ragged and disheveled.  He carries a switch in his hand with which to beat naughty children, but also pocketsful of cakes, candies, and nuts for good children.  The Belsnickel tradition remains alive among the Pennsylvania Germans.  Sue's mother recalls hearing about the Belsnickel when she was young.

Dwight from The Office as the Belsnickel

But the darkest and most horrifying of Santa's companions is the Krampus, found in parts of Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.  While St. Nicholas brings gifts as rewards to good children each year, he leaves the task of punishing bad children to the terrifying Krampus.  Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kiddies down to the underworld.

Not surprisingly, the Krampus derives his name from the German word krampen, meaning claw. 

The Feast of St. Nicholas is December 6th.  The eve of the saint's day is known as Krampusnacht.  On that night the Krampus makes his appearance, sometimes with St. Nick and sometimes alone.  He roams the streets terrorizing adults and children alike.  Be forewarned, tomorrow is Krampusnacht.

The Krampus is the perfect antidote to the all the Christmas kitsch and sentimentality we put up this time of year.   Oscar Wild said that "the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart."  If there was ever a time of year to stay away from cynicism, Christmas is it.

This will really get you in the Christmas spirit:  Krampus: The Dark Companion of Saint Nick

Thursday, November 19, 2015

It's Science - Fitter legs means fitter brains

I guess this belongs in the category, "We knew it all along."
Researchers at King's College London have found that muscle fitness as measured by power in the legs is strongly associated with an improved rate of ageing in the brain. 
Scientists studied a sample of 324 healthy female twins from the TwinsUK volunteer registry over a ten-year period from 1999, measuring various health and lifestyle predictors. Researchers were, therefore, able to control for genetic factors affecting changes in cognitive function. 
Thinking, learning and memory were measured at both the beginning and end of the study and it was found that leg power was a better predictor of cognitive change than any other lifestyle factors tested. Generally, the twin who had more leg power at the start of the study sustained their cognition better and had fewer brain changes associated with ageing measured after ten years.
 Here's the article, and you can pat yourself on the back, you smarty.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fiction + Time = Fact

Maryland state wildlife workers used an electric hand saw to remove a milk can that was stuck on the head of a bear.
Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Karis King says the wildlife response team was called early Monday to a rural location near Thurmont to rescue an adult male black bear with his head stuck inside a metal milk can.
The workers speculated that bear had probably found a picture book in the garbage but couldn't read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kierkegaard: Every movement of infinity comes about by passion

Recently, I saw the movie Chef.  While I’m not sure if it was a truly great movie, I thought that it was good enough and certainly enjoyable to watch.  Jon Favreau, best known for directing Elf, Iron Man and Iron Man II, starred, wrote, produced and directed it.  While I don’t want to give anything away, as the title suggests, the movie is about a chef.  You’ll find that this is was one of those food films – like Big Night, Babette’s Feast or Eat Dink Man Woman – in which, as the movie continues, you just get hungrier and hungrier.  To give everything the right feel, Favreau brought in Roy Choi, famous chief and Korean taco truck magnate, as a culinary consultant.  And the movie had at least one great scene – one that most people probably missed, unfortunately (spoiler alert).

At the ending of the credits, long after the movie proper has ended, there is a short clip – not related to the movie’s story – in which Choi is showing Favreau how to make a grilled cheese sandwich.  Choi performs a veritable ballet here, moving around the griddle, swirling the sandwich in the oil, constantly checking the bread for doneness from every angle.  As Choi is engaged in all this activity, he explains:
So you can see the whole sandwich is starting to evolve.
See the cheese is starting to evolve, too.
You’re almost…
Even now as you get further, Jon, you're getting in, like, a surgeon. 
You're changing even your grips here. 
Changing your positions, moving around. 
But you're not too busy with it. 
You're precise, but then sometimes you step back. 
Nothing else exists except this. 
This is the only thing that exists in this world right now. 

And if you f-ck this up, everything sucks in the world.

Favreau and Choi
cheese sandwich -- nothing else exists

Friday, November 13, 2015

Covert Military Action

The first attempt to try an interactive poll on the site proved technically successful. Unfortunately it didn't garner more than a handful of votes (I voted 4 times.) Perhaps a more serious topic will stir up interest. (This time you can only vote once.)

Each vote will probably need explanation. The comments should be used for that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tattoos are so 2nd Millennium

Step back piercers, the cyborg society is on the way with Pittsburgh at the forefront. While some are considering the Apple wristwatch, Grindhouse Wetware, a Pittsburgh company, asks you to consider the wrist. "Hopefully we'll have a lot of guinea pigs in the body modification community soon."
[Warning: linked article has some graphic surgical images.]

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Answer to the Two-Minute Mystery -- Or Not!

I think that enough time has elapsed for anyone interested to give his or her response to the Two-Minute Mystery. Jim was right to focus on the bird building the nest. Only, the problem wasn't with the bird but with the tree. Here is the wealthy Mrs. Sydney's complete answer as printed in the paper (I had to turn my desktop screen upside down to read it): "Although an experienced bird watcher, Roach didn't know his tropical flora. Obviously, he didn't watch a bird building a nest in a palm tree as he claimed. Palm trees have no branches, only long slippery fronds; and birds can't perch -- much less nest on them."

The more accurate answer, however, is a bit more complicated, which explains why Dr. Haledjian was stumped. It turns out that Mrs. Sydney may know her flora but she doesn't know birds. Even though palm trees do not have branches, certain resourceful birds do in fact build their nests in palm trees.

Here are the nests of the Weaver bird, clearly built in palm trees. As you can see from the second photo, they can be orange in color. Most are from Sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer species in tropical Asia.


Closer to home, the orange hooded oriole also builds nests in palm trees. According to the Audubon Society, while the hooded oriole will nest in various trees, it "[e]specially favors palm trees, and will nest in isolated groups of palms even in cities."

Now, the fact of the matter is that I couldn't find an orange bird from the Florida Keys that builds its nests in palm trees during the month of January (the hooded oriole spends its time in the Southwest US and Mexico). It may be that, given sufficient time and effort, I might discover a bird that fits that description. But, even so, Mrs. Sydney's contention was that it was physically impossible for a bird to build a nest in a palm tree, not that there are no orange birds in Florida that might build a nest there. And, Roach said that he spied an exotic orange bird, belonging to a species new to him. Perhaps a hooded oriole had lost its way, or Roach discovered a new species. In any event, Roach's story is not so implausible as to totally discredit him. Under these circumstances, no wonder Dr. Haledjian was stumped. His reputation as one of the world's greatest detectives without question remains intact.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Modern Health Care Questions Its Own Value

Perhaps modern health care may not have all the value we ascribe to it.

…we have compared lifespan in the Old Order Amish (OOA), a population with historically low use of medical care, with that of Caucasian participants from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), focusing on individuals who have reached at least age 30 years. 
Analyses were based on 2,108 OOA individuals from the Lancaster County, PA community born between 1890 and 1921 and 5,079 FHS participants born approximately the same time. Vital status was ascertained on 96.9% of the OOA cohort through 2011 and through systematic follow-up of the FHS cohort. The lifespan part of the study included an enlargement of the Anabaptist Genealogy Database to 539,822 individuals, which will be of use in other studies of the Amish. Mortality comparisons revealed that OOA men experienced better longevity and OOA women comparable longevity than their FHS counterparts.

The study speculates that lifestyle may predispose longer life. (The study is here.)

Friday, November 6, 2015

One In the Plus Column for Nonbelievers

I may have to re-think my view of religion:  Religious upbringing associated with less altruism, study finds.

Serial - Season 2

For "Serial" devotees, season 2 will unfold sometime this month—new season, new subject, new controversies. Sarah Koenig said as much in a Glamour article. Also new this season, the series will be broadcast on Pandora as well as podcast on the Serial site.

While you're waiting you may want to try a completely different type of mystery podcast, called, appropriately enough, "Mystery Show". Starlee Kind, of This American Life, is the creator and host. I found the episodes a bit uneven, but entertaining in a richly quirky way, especially if you like solving lighthearted mysteries. They can be found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sydney J. Harris and Dr. Haledjian

When I was growing up, I didn’t read much newsprint – even though on most days we received two papers.  But I didn’t ignore the newspaper altogether.  During baseball season, for example, brother Pete and I would daily pour over the sports section, reading the account of last night’s game and carefully studying every statistic and listing available.  And, of course, I read the comics.

There were two other features in the Post-Gazette that I distinctly remember from childhood.  These were:  a feature called “Two-Minute Mystery,” and the Sydney J. Harris column, "Strictly Personal.”

If I remember correctly, Two-Minute Mysteries appeared only during the summer, at least in the Post-Gazette.  It was a short column that spun a mystery story and gave the reader the chance to solve it – presumably in two minutes.  Donald J. Sobol authored the column and it was syndicated through the Associated Press.  It first appeared in 1959 and lasted until 1968.   Best of all, it starred the famous sleuth and criminologist, Dr. Haledjian.

I remember that there was always a group of us at home who would grab the paper for Sobol’s column and set our minds upon finding the solution.  And woe unto him who disclosed the answer before we had a chance to read it.  Inevitably, there would be a discussion comparing our guesses to each others and Sobol’s “correct” answer (printed upside-down below the column), and what we thought of the quality of that day’s installment.  It tended to be a competition of sorts – like everything else we did – to see who could solve the mystery.  Unfortunately, I was never very good at it and, as often happened in matters of this sort, I took a backseat to Dad and my older brothers.

Of course, the quality of the column varied, and some were impossible, requiring some specialized knowledge, for example, that muscles swell immediately after exercise.  And some – well – just didn’t make much sense.  In one mystery, an English professor's suicide note is considered fraudulent and a product of foul play because it contained a split infinitive.  Sobol in his solution naturally assumed that, because (1) English professors always follow grammatical rules, even when distraught and suicidal, and (2) that all English professors accept that “don't split infinitives in English” is such a rule, it must have been murder.  If anything, however, the often-strained logic only made it more fun and I found myself eagerly waiting for the next day’s installment. 

Anyway, here is one mystery that even the brilliant Dr. Haledjian couldn’t solve.  Answers can be written in the comments.
For years Mrs. Sydney, the wealthiest dowager in New York City, had vainly tried to outwit Dr. Haledjian.  As the famous criminologist selected a cigar from the tray held by the Sydney butler, a wicked gleam came into his hostess' eye.  It was time for playing stump-the-detective....”  John DeMott, Paul Houk, and Lee Roach were partners in a successful New York jewelry business," began Mrs. Sydney.  "Last January they flew down to the Florida Keys to spend a month at DeMott's lodge."  One afternoon DeMott took Houk, an avid fisherman but a non-swimmer, out on his forty-foot cruiser.  Roach, whose hobby was bird watching, remained behind. "Roach says he was sitting behind the lodge when he spied an exotic orange bird, belonnging to a species new to him, fly by. He followed it to the front of the house, and through binoculars watched it building a nest, high in a palm tree."  Quite by chance, he moved the binoculars out to the water and saw DeMott and Houk struggling on the yacht.  Roach says DeMott shoved Houk over-board and held his head under water.  "DeMott claimed that Houk had leaned over the side to gaff a fish, and, losing his balance, fell into the ocean.  He drowned before DeMott could reach him."  The coroner ascribed death to drowning.  At the trial, it was simply DeMott's word against Roach's.  "The jury deliberated less than five minutes," concluded Mrs. Sydney. "No doubt, my dear doctor, you won't need so long to realize who was lying."  Haledjian didn't.  Do you?

The other column I remember from the Post-Gazette of my childhood was Sydney J. Harris’ “Strictly Personal.”  Mostly, the column was Harris’ ruminations about pretty much anything that was on his mind, and it was more philosophical than political.  I’m not sure that anything like it exists today in newsprint, with the possible exception of the New York Times’ column “The Stone” that, according to the Times, “features the writing of contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless.”  But, Harris was much less abstract and ponderous than most of what I read in the Times column.

He also had a curious occasional feature titled, "Things I Learned En Route to Looking Up Other Things,” in which he simply listed odd facts he had picked up along the way.  The facts listed could not be more random:  A few examples:
  • If a cat died in ancient Egypt, family members were required to shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning.  (And citizens were not infrequently executed for the ‘crime’ of killing a cat.) 
  • No king of Sweden for 100 years in the 17th century could speak the language of the country (since the time of Charles II in 1697 to the reign of Gustavus in 1792). 
  • “Fascism” as a political term was adopted by Mussolini from one of the Aesop’s fables showing that, while sticks could be easily broken one by one, they were irrefrangible if tied together in a bundle. (the Latin word for a bundle of sticks was fasces, which were brandished by the lictors of ancient Rome as symbols of authority.)  
  • The will Stephen Girard, endowing Girard College (for orphan boys) in Philadelphia, expressly prohibited clergymen from coming onto the premises of the school.
I don’t so much remember reading the column myself as much as I remember Dad reading it.  He was a big fan of Harris and, as far as I can recall, read the column at every opportunity.  He often would comment on it over breakfast or read sections to anyone who would listen.  I seem to recall that not everyone shared Dad’s high opinion of Harris, and that there was sometimes discussion on this point.  

I suppose that Dad liked Harris for the same reason that he was fond of G.K Chesterton:  Harris was clever, usually in support of a worthy cause, and he was profound without being obscure.  Harris may have also resonated with Dad because they were within months of the same age.  And, Dad was not Harris’ only fan.  In his day, Harris was immensely popular.  Time magazine once called Harris “the most quoted newsman in Chicago.  

Harris was born in London.  At five, his family moved to Chicago and he remained there the rest of his life.  He was a classmate and life-long friend of Saul Bellow.  Harris studied philosophy at the University of Chicago, and worked for several Chicago papers. In 1944, he began publishing “Strictly Personal,” which he continued to write for the next 40 years.  At some point his column was nationally syndicated, which is how it ended up in the Post-Gazette.

Despite having once written that “quotes are a way to lazy wisdom,” Harris was a master of the well-constructed sentence and could pack profound ideas into just a few words. Essayist, critic and editor Clifton Fadiman once referred to Harris as “America’s finest living aphorist.”  So, now he is remembered for these kernels of wit and wisdom.  Again, I provide a sample:
We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we have stopped saying “It got lost,” and say, “I lost it.”
Everyone admits that "the truth hurts" but no one applies this adage to himself — and as soon as it begins to hurt us, we quickly repudiate it and call it a lie.
Ninety percent of what we believe has nothing to do with the process of thought, but comes instead from the four sources of family inheritance, individual temperament, national culture, and economic self-interest; and while we cannot wholly cast off these shackles, we should at least recognize their cramping and distorting influence upon the free process of thought.
What we are looking for, I am afraid, is neither a true leader nor a true Messiah, but a false Messiah - a man who will give us over-simplified answers, who will justify our ways, who will castigate our enemies, who will vindicate our selfishness as a way of life and make us comfortable within our prejudices and preconceptions.
Terrorism is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; war is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it.
The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's leisure.
Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting. 
It's odd that the people who worry whether certain plays are "morally offensive" so rarely worry about the moral offensiveness of war, poverty, bigotry.
Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.
Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there.  (This is a corollary to Richard Feynman’s line “Hell, if I could explain it to the average person, it wouldn't have been worth the Nobel prize.”)
Who could blame Dad for liking Harris so much?

Sydney J. Harris