123) An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out and that the growing generation is familiarized with the idea from the beginning.
Max Planck The Philosophy of Physics (1936) [B15]
124) Bright young men of disheveled appearance, often with sunken glowing eyes, can be seen sitting at computer consoles, their arms tensed and waiting to fire their fingers, already poised to strike, at the buttons and keys on which their attention seems to be riveted as a gambler's on the rolling dice. When not so transfixed they often sit at tables strewn with computer printouts over which they pore like possessed students of a cabalistic text. They work until they nearly drop, twenty, thirty hours at a time. Their food, if they arrange it, is brought to them: coffee, Cokes, sandwiches. If possible they sleep on cots near the printouts. Their rumpled clothes, their unwashed and unshaven faces, and their uncombed hair all testify that they are oblivious to their bodies and to the world in which they move. These are computer bums, compulsive programmers [...]
Joseph Weizenbaum Computer Power and Human Reason (1976) quoted by James Wallace & Jim Erickson in Hard Drive (1992)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 858 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
121) Just because a person feels strongly about someone doesn't mean they don't enjoy kissing someone else: I thought it did, and it probably should, BUT IT DOESN'T!
The Mary Tyler Moore Show (TV series) "One Boyfriend Too Many" (1975) written by David Lloyd, spoken by the character "Mary Richards," played by Mary Tyler Moore
122) I know I'm probably going to get hung for saying this, but has anybody considered the possibility that cocaine and amphetamines really do enhance athletic performance in certain respects? [...] I don't really believe that drugs make anybody a better ballplayer. I do believe this: that the physical and emotional construct which creates a successful athlete must be understood in its entirety, and not discussed piecemeal. That, I think, is the reason that players who go on weight-training programs or health-food kicks, or players who are helped by hypnotism or other psychological counseling, or players who make a sudden leap forward after working with a batting instructor, will almost always relapse in the next season. True excellence in any field is supported by an incredibly complex structure of habits, skills, knowledge, intelligence, confidence, courage, experience and diverse abilities. [...] When a player has been using a chemical substance for years, I think it often happens that that substance becomes a part of the fabric of his life - and thus, however evil it is by itself, it becomes a part of the structure that supports his success. When it is removed, that fabric is torn, and it may be years before the tear can be stitched over.
Bill James 1985 Baseball Abstract (1985) reprinted in This Time Let's Not Eat the Bones (1989)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 859 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
Really, a very powerful commentary, made more so by a relatively flat delivery masking what are clearly some seething emotions on Olbermann's part. I worry about the guy, because he looks like what I feel like sometimes when I think about everything that's happened to us on Bush's watch, and (in most cases) through Bush's deliberate efforts.
If you had told me, five years ago, that on the fifth anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in history Ground Zero would still be nothing but an enormous hole in the ground, I wouldn't have believed you -- just as I wouldn't have believed that a major American city could be thoroughly trashed by a Category 4 hurricane and then left to moulder in the mud for a year while various federal, state and local bureaucrats and hack politicians tried to make up their minds what to do.
I would have said that while those kinds of things can and do happen in Third World kleptocracies or decaying Stalinist police states, they're simply not possible in the richest and most powerful nation in history. Even if the voters could somehow be bamboozled into accepting such incompetence, the wealthy elites and corporate technocrats who own and operate the world's only remaining superpower would never stand for it.
You can learn a lot about a country in five years.
What I've learned (from 9/11, the corporate scandals, the fiasco in Iraq, Katrina, the Cheney Administration's insane economic and environmental policies and the relentless dumbing down of the corporate media -- plus the repeated electoral triumphs of the Rovian brand of "reality management") is that the United States is moving down the curve of imperial decay at an amazingly rapid clip. If anything, the speed of our descent appears to be accelerating.
The physical symptoms -- a lost war, a derelict city, a Potemkin memorial hastily erected in a vacant lot -- aren't nearly as alarming as the moral and intellectual paralysis that seems to have taken hold of the system. The old feedback mechanisms are broken or in deep disrepair, leaving America with an opposition party that doesn't know how (or what) to oppose, a military run by uniformed yes men, intelligence czars who couldn't find their way through a garden gate with a GPS locator, TV networks that don't even pretend to cover the news unless there's a missing white woman or a suspected child rapist involved, and talk radio hosts who think nuking Mecca is the solution to all our problems in the Middle East. We've got think tanks that can't think, security agencies that can't secure and accounting firms that can't count (except when their clients ask them to make 2+2=5). Our churches are either annexes to shopping malls, halfway homes for pederasts, or GOP precinct headquarters in disguise. Our economy is based on asset bubbles, defense contracts and an open-ended line of credit from the People's Bank of China, and we still can't push the poverty rate down or the median wage up.
I could happily go on, but I imagine you get my point. It's hard to think of a major American institution, tradition or cultural value that has not, at some point over the past five years, been shown to be a.) totally out of touch, b.) criminally negligent, c.) hopelessly corrupt, d.) insanely hypocritical or e.) all of the above.
It's getting hard to see how these trends can be reversed. Maybe they can't (which would explain why all empires, at least so far, have eventually declined and fallen.)
Overall, I think he's right, although I could mount a minor defense for at least some of New York's go-slow approach to rebuilding is justifiable (and a lot isn't).
The bigger picture is that we do seem to be in our decline, and that downward spiral is only going to be exascerbated by the melded neo-con/corporatis (not to mention authoritarian) policies of the Bush Administration. Their clientele (Big Bidness and the rich -- religious fundamentalists aren't really their clients, they're their cannon fodder) will prosper in the short run, but in the long run almost everything that's being done is undermining both our long-term survival as a powerful (the powerful) nation, and our ability to re-make our society in ways that would allow a new equilibrium.
I'm not an economist, nor a historian of economics, but it seems to me that the last time this happened, it took the Great Depression (to tear things down) and World War II and its aftermath (to build things back up again) to remake the structure of society in ways that made us more viable. Now, BushCo has worked very hard to, one by one, undermine or undo that structure, in the hope of returning to a previous one, a sort of hard-core economic nostalgia tricked out with an iron fist.
P.S. While I'm basically sympathetic with the arguments of those that say we need to tear down the bi-polar political structure we now live in (i.e. the two-party system), I'm impatient with the idiocy of thinking such a campaign, however mounted (grassroots, Netroots, Wildroot -- whatever) can conceivably be successful. But even if it had the possibility of succeeding in the future, concentrating on such near-term unrealistic tactics as a third party is bound to fail, which then leave us with the Republican party still in charge and things getting worse and worse at an accelerating pace. That's why I say that anyone who is opposed to the things that Bush is doing, and the people he fronts for, and the policies he stands for, must be doing whatever they can to help elect Democrats.
I have no illusion that with the Democrats in power everything will get better, but I do know (from experience) that with Democrats in charge, the pace of the damaging of the country will lessen considerable, and will, in fact, only proceed in fits and starts. As Billmon says in another post:
On the other hand, I definitely have to agree with Bacevich that America's problems go much deeper than the Rovians, notwithstanding the destructive effects of their radical proclivities (to borrow a phrase from Mario Cuomo). Bacevich:
Those who think that merely throwing the rascals out will remedy our problems are deluding themselves.
It's true, but you have to start somewhere.
Right, so let's work on throwing them out and stop with all this posturing bullshit about not voting or going third party. If you're not part of the immediate solution...
I don't like to post anything much on the 11th of September, but I do occasionally like to point out how, after my initial shock, I reacted to te 9/11 attacks. This is an excerpt from what I wrote 11 days later on 9/22/2001, when the war in question was not the invasion of Iraq, but the mounting of a military response against the perpretrators:
(5) But military force cannot be the only aspect of this campaign, and I'm not talking about freezing financial assests (although there's nothing wrong with that). While I outright reject the notion that in some perverse way we had this coming to us, there is a great deal of truth in the idea that we have some amount of culpability in creating the conditions that allowed the attacks to occur. Our messing around in Afghanistan and then walking away, our one-sided backing of the Israeli government even when they were acting badly and breaking their agreements, our sponsership of globalization without proper concern for the problems and concerns of the rest of the world, and so on. We need to deal with the problems that we have had a hand in creating, if only for the selfish reason that by doing so, we may alleviate some of the conditions under which Islamic fundamentalism has grown as dangerous to us as it obviously has.
(6) To that end, we need to "bomb them with butter, bribe them with hope." We *must* act as nation-builders, or at least facilitators so that nations can rebuild themselves. We should do this not out of guilt, from simply as a matter of enlightened self-interest.
(7) If we are going to engage in a war, then it needs to be an officially declared war. The only entity in the United States that can declare war is the Congress, and if it is to be war, then they alone can say it. This is not the Gulf of Tonkin, some flimsy puffed-up excuse for hostilities -- we've been hit hard on our own shores, and a Declaration of War, if military action is necessary, is certainly justified. But don't ask us, the American people, to sacrfice without declaring war, and don't ask the people to sacrifice without asking the same of corporations.
(8) It's good to remember that Osama bin Laden, whether or not he was the party ultimately reponsible for the 09-11-01 attacks, *has* declared war on *us*, he has declared a fatwa on Americans, both military and civilian, and has, in the past, killed Americans abroad, on American soil, our embassies in East Africa.
(9) Finally, we need to remind ourselves that the purpose of any military action should not be retribution or retaliation for its own sake, although we would certainly be justified in seeking those things. Any military action should be in the service of the ultimate goal of making Americans secure, not only in their homeland but elsewhere in the world. Any military action, or any other part of this campaign against terrorism that we have been thrust into, which doesn't serve to move us closer to that goal is counter-productive and should not be carried out. If using the legal mechanisms and processes of our country and the world community could stop terrorism, bring the people responsible for the attacks on America to justice and make us secure in our homes, then it would be best to use them instead of military action. Unfortunately, however, I do not think that is the case. I think that it is inevitable that we will have to fight. And so, we should.
I supported the action taken against Afghanistan - I thought it was just, and a measured response to what had occured (I still believe this to be the case), but, in the end, the Bush Administration fucked it up, pulling troops out to mount their nonsensical invasion of Iraq, and allowing bin Laden to escape capture. Worse, he abandoned Afghanistan to fall back into the same pattern of opium production and warlord-ism.
(All the conservatives who are currently complaining that a withdrawal from Iraq would be failing to uphold our obligation to the Iraqi people, where were they when we walked away from Afghanistan in order to invade Iraq?)
What's also important to me, although it's not explicitly stated in this piece, is that my very first post-shock response was "Why?" Why would they want to do this to us? I realized that I was woefully unknowedgeable about Islam and radical Islamists, and set about trying to educated myself by reading as much as I could, discussing it with my friends and acquaintances and colleagues, and watching the various talking heads. I'm still no expert, far from it, but I think I can truthfully say that by the time Iraq rolled around, I certainly knew more than the President of the United States about fundamental things, like the difference between Sunni and Shiite, or how Iraq came to be made into a nation, and why it wasn't going to be a cakewalk to lop off its head and still have it walk and talk and breathe like a real country.
(Just to be clear, that doesn't make me a genius or even particularly smart or educable, it makes Bush pathetic, something he continues to display on an ongoing basis.)
117) Good cooking takes time. If you are made to wait, it is to serve you better, and to please you.
Menu of Restaurant Antoine, New Orleans quoted by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. in The Mythical Man-Month (1975)
118) Brooks' Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. The Mythical Man-Month (1975)
119) He'll sit here and he'll say, "Do this! Do that!" And nothing will happen.
Harry S. Truman on Presidential power quoted by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. in The Mythical Man-Month (1975)
120) The boss must first distinguish between action information and status information. He must discipline himself not to act on problems his managers can solve, and never to act on problems when he is explicitly reviewing status. I once knew a boss who invariably picked up the phone to give orders before the end of the first paragraph in a status report. That response is guaranteed to squelch full disclosure.
Frederick P. Brooks, Jr. The Mythical Man-Month (1975)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 861 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
A TPM reader (via dKos) hits the nail on the head. Here's how to respond to Rove's coming smear-and-fear-a-thon:
You -- the Voters -- have ONE DAY to hold the Bush Administration accountable for what's happened in Iraq, and here at home. ONE DAY -- election day. If you like the way things are going, vote Republican. If you think things need to change, VOTE DEMOCRATIC. Seize the day. It's your very last chance.
That's exactly right (except for the corny "seize the day" part).
In honor of what would have been paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould's 65th birthday, here are a few of the many quotes I've pulled from his writing over the years.
[The history of life on earth] includes too much chaos, or extremely sensitive dependence on minute and unmeasurable differences in initial conditions, leading to massively divergent outcomes based on tiny and unknowable disparities in starting points. And history includes too much contingency, or shaping of present results by long chains of unpredictable antecedent states, rather than immediate determination by timeless laws of nature.
Homo sapiens did not appear on the earth, just a geological second ago, because evolutionary theory predicts such an outcome based on themes of progress and increasing neural complexity. Humans arose, rather, as a fortuitous and contingent outcome of thousands of linked events, any one of which could have occurred differently and sent history on an alternative pathway that would not have led to consciousness.
[...] Such a view of life's history is highly contrary both to conventional deterministic models of Western science and to the deepest social traditions and psychological hopes of Western culture for a history culminating in humans as life's highest expression and intended planetary steward.
"The Evolution of Life on Earth" in Scientific American (10/94)
What are the real success stories of mammalian evolution? We can answer this question without ambiguity, at least in terms of numerous species and vigorous radiation: rats, bats, and antelopes ... These three groups dominate the world of mammals, both in numbers, and in ecological spread.
Full House (1996)
Nothing displays human hubris more than the old textbook designation of recent geological times as the "age of man." First of all, if we must use an eponymous designation, we live today, and have always lived, in the "age of bacteria." Second, if we insist on multicellular parochialism, modern times must surely be called the "age of insects." Homo sapiens is one species, mammals a few thousand. By contrast, nearly a million species of insects have been described (and several million more remain undiscovered and uncataloged). Insects represent more than 70 percent of all named species.
"In the Mind of the Beholder" in Natural History (2/94)
The intellectual world is littered with systems that pushed consistency to the ends of the earth and the bounds of rationality, but then stepped aside and made an exception for human uniqueness.
Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (1987)
An abstract, intellectual understanding of deep time comes easily enough - I know how many zeros to place after the 10 when I mean billions. Getting it into the gut is another matter. Deep time is so alien that we can really only comprehend it as metaphor. And so we do in our pedagogy. We tout the geological mile (with human history occupying the last few inches); or the cosmic calendar (with Homo sapiens appearing for but a few moments before Auld Lang Syne). [...] John McPhee has provided the most striking metaphor of all [in Basin and Range]: Consider the earth's history as the old measure of the English yard, the distance from the King's nose to the tip of his outstretched hand. One stroke of a nail file on his middle finger erases human history.
Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (1987)
Science is an integral part of culture. It's not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It's one of the glories of human intellectual tradition.
London Independent (1/24/90)
Objectivity cannot be equated with mental blankness; rather, objectivity resides in recognizing your preferences and then subjecting them to especially harsh scrutiny - and also in a willingness to revise or abandon your theories when the tests fail (as they usually do).
"Capturing the Center" in Natural History (12/98)
Scientists reach conclusions for the damnedest of reasons: intuitions, guesses, redirections after wild goose chases, all combined with a dollop of rigorous observation and logical reasoning [...] The myth of a separate mode [of scientific thought] based on rigorous objectivity and arcane, largely mathematical knowledge, vouchsafed only to the initiated, may provide some immediate benefits in bamboozling the public to regard [scientists] as a new priesthood, but must ultimately prove harmful in erecting barriers to truly friendly understanding and in falsely persuading so many students that science lies beyond their capabilities.
"In the Mind of the Beholder" in Natural History (2/94)
Some fashions (tongue piercings, perhaps?) flower once and then disappear, hopefully forever. Others swing in and out of style, as if fastened to the end of a pendulum. Two foibles of human life strongly promote this oscillatory mode. First, our need to create order in a complex world begets our worst mental habit: dichotomy, or our tendency to reduce an intricate set of subtle shadings to a choice between two diametrically opposed alternatives (each with moral weight and therefore ripe for bombast and pontification, if not outright warfare): religion versus science, liberal versus conservative, plain versus fancy, Roll Over Beethoven versus the Moonlight Sonata. Second, many deep questions about our livelihoods, and the fates of nations, truly have no answers - so we cycle the presumed alternatives of our dichotomies, one after the other, always hoping that, this time, we will find the nonexistent key.
Among oscillating fashions governed primarily by the swing of our social pendulum, no issue could be more prominent for an evolutionary biologist, or more central to a broad range of political questions, then genetic versus environmental sources of human abilities and behaviors. The issue has been falsely dichotimized for so many centuries that English even features a mellifluous linguistic contrast for the supposed alternatives: nature versus nurture.
As any thoughtful person understands, the framing of this question as an either-or dichotomy verges on the nonsensical. Both inheritance and upbringing matter in crucial ways. Moreover, an adult human being, built by interaction of these (and other) factors, cannot be disaggregated into separate components with attached percentages. It behooves us all to grasp why such common claims as "intelligence is 30 percent genetic and 70 percent environmental" have no sensible meaning at all and represent the same kind of error as the contention that all overt properties of water may be revealed by noting an underlying construction from two parts of one gas mixed with one part of another.
Nonetheless, a preference for either nature or nurture swings back and forth into fashion as political winds blow and as scientific breakthroughs grant transient prominence to one or another feature in a spectrum of vital influences.
"This View of Life: Dolly's Fashion and Louis's Passion" Natural History magazine (6/97)
Our searches for numerical order lead as often to terminal nuttiness as to profound insight.
115) The business of providing information - gathering, reporting, editing, organizing and disseminating news - has barely begun to respond [to new information technologies and the resulting torrent of available data]. One service traditionally provided by institutions like the newspaper [...] has been the sifting of information: editors use the limited space and varied typography of a newspaper to make [sic] judgments about what news is important. Their judgments are broadcast in more or less identical form to a million readers. Big newspapers and network news shows are culturally unifying, but, with a few exceptions, these organizations have been slow to adapt to the changing information marketplace. And cultural fragmentation seems to lie at the heart of the information services springing up across the telephone network.
James Gleick "The Telephone Transformed - Into Almost Everything" New York Times Magazine (5/19/93)
116) We're in danger of drowning under a deluge of information bases, online news services, electronic mail, bulletin board services, and publications, both electronic and print. The information available to us greatly exceeds our ability to absorb it. Worse, the electronic medium, bereft of the headlines and other visual cues that help us navigate through print media, gives us no sense of relative importance and makes it difficult to skim.
Bill Machrone "Discontent with Content" PC (5/11/93)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 864 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.