Bierce and Reich

Robert ReichWhen I was first introduced to unix in 1988, a big part of the experience was that whenever I logged in, I got a “message of the day” in the form of a little program, typically named “motd.” All the program did was pick randomly from a text file of quotes. I’m sure it was added to over the years by the various nerdy people who developed the various parts of the operating system. And they were very fond of Ambrose Bierce and his The Devil’s Dictionary. It includes wonderful definitions like:

Actually (adv) Perhaps; possibly.

Conservative (n) A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.

Religion (n) A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

Brilliant, right? Ambrose Bierce was born on this day in 1842. And then, when he was 71 he disappeared in Mexico. Bierce was a journalist and author and war hero. Here is a French short film based upon Bierce’s short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” It is really good:

Irish playwright George Shiels was born in 1886. Boxer Jack Dempsey was born in 1895. Tennis shoe evangelist Chuck Taylor was born in 1901. The great British astronomer Fred Hoyle was born in 1915. And painter Margaret Olley was born in 1923.

Al MolinaroYou probably have never heard of him, but actor Al Molinaro is 94 today. But I know you know him, that’s why I’ve included his picture on the right. He was the owner of Arnold’s on Happy Days and (as in the picture) Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple. And I love this quote from him, “I spent twenty years here before I got anything going, and from that I got lucky. It takes a lot of luck in show business. You’ve just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time.” I wish more people understood how important luck is to their success. And how can you not love that face?!

Guitarist Jeff Beck is 69. Here he is with The Yardbirds, although for the record, I think Jimmy Page is better:

Drummer Mick Fleetwood is 66. Actor Nancy Allen is 63. Scottish actor Iain Glen is 52. And really vile human being who uses religion to oppress the weak, Ralph Reed is also 52.

The day however, belongs to the great political economist who is there on the right under “Daily Off Sites,” Robert Reich who is 67 today. He has it all. He’s an excellent writer with a good sense of humor. Oh, and he’s one of the most insightful political observers around. Having been on the inside as Labor Secretary under Clinton, he understands the politics as well as the economics that is going on. And most of all, he cares that our society is totally screwed up and is trying to do something about it. Here he is in one of his great videos. This one is on Three Economic Myths:

Happy birthday Robert Reich!

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